How Facebook Helped Give Us the Waffle Taco

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
May 30 2014 10:35 AM

How Taco Bell Created the Waffle Taco

13446416393_8b4df68c15_b
Eighty iterations comes up with this?

Photo by Mike Mozart via Flickr

The Waffle Taco may be the buzziest thing to hit the breakfast industry this year. The eggs-and-syrup drenched concoction rolled out in March as part of Taco Bell's new breakfast menu and has proven a marketing gem for the chain and parent corporation Yum! Brands. But how did it come to be?

Bloomberg Businessweek has the sweet and sticky details in a groundbreaking report on Taco Bell's recipe creation process. As reporter Venessa Wong tells the story, Taco Bell director for product development Heather Mottershaw got the idea while scrolling through her Facebook feed one Saturday morning. A photo posted by a friend showed a waffle folded around eggs, avocados, and other Southern-California style ingredients. Inspired, Mottershaw ran out to purchase a box of generic waffles so that she could test the idea herself:

“I brought the waffles in Monday morning at 7 a.m. and just started playing with them in the kitchen,” she recalls. By taking the frozen waffle, leaving it to thaw at room temperature, folding it, and flash frying it in Taco Bell’s chalupa baskets, she ended up with a crispy waffle in the shape of a taco shell. By 9 a.m. it was stuffed with eggs, sausage, and cheese and being evaluated by executives at Taco Bell’s Irvine (Calif.) headquarters. “As soon as the team started to see it,” she says, “there was this instant excitement, this buzz that this is a cool idea, this is a big idea.”
Advertisement

Taco Bell's team went through 80 iterations (waffle shape, weight, thickness, amount of vanilla flavoring, and fillings) before the fast-food chain settled on its final version. And despite its status as a fast-food novelty, the Waffle Taco is in fact not the best-selling item on Taco Bell's new breakfast menu. That title goes to the A.M. Crunchwrap: a tortilla shell stuffed with a hash brown patty, eggs, bacon, and cheese.

Alison Griswold is a Slate staff writer covering business and economics.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories to the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 12:44 AM We Need More Ben Bradlees His relationship with John F. Kennedy shows what’s missing from today’s Washington journalism.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 22 2014 6:00 AM Why It’s OK to Ask People What They Do David Plotz talks to two junior staffers about the lessons of Working.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 22 2014 8:13 AM Good Teaching Is Not About Playing It Safe Classroom technology can make learning more dangerous, and that’s a good thing.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 22 2014 7:30 AM An Illusion That Makes Me Happy and Sad
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.