Taco Bell is planning to release the Naked Chicken Chalupa, a taco filled with vegetables inside a shell made of fried chicken.
Although it hasn’t officially been approved for a nationwide launch, preliminary tests in California and Missouri have been promising, according to Buzzfeed News.
In 2013, Taco Bell senior director of innovation, Heather Mottershaw, initially came up with the idea of a shell made out of chicken Milianese. However, other senior managers were hesitant.
"They really weren’t into it because it is so different," said Kat Garcia, Taco Bell’s senior manager of marketing.
"Think of all the crazy firsts that have existed in time and civilization," said Chief Marketing Officer Marisa Thalberg, who was originally not sure that a chicken shell would be successful. "Dare we say even the creation of the wheel probably seemed a little odd at first until someone said, 'Ah, that’s really a good thing!'"
According to Garcia, the team needs to ensure that customers take the product seriously, a problem that Kentucky Fried Chicken experienced when they introduced a similar sandwich, the Double Down.
"People look at the Double Down and what do they think? Frankenfood, right?" Chief Marketing Officer Kevin Hochman told Business Insider. "The sad thing is that somebody in the back of the house was hand breading fillets and making the Double Down."
Made of two chicken fillets filled with cheese and bacon, the Double Down may have hurt the chain’s reputation in the long run.
"You can't just pivot from Double Downs to 'We make fried chicken in the back of the house' overnight," Hochman said.
However, unlike the Double Down, the Naked Chicken Chalupa is filled with lettuce, tomatoes, and avocado ranch sauce. Oddly enough, this has managed to make the product seem like a “health halo” to some customers.
"We were getting feedback like, 'It’s so healthy. It’s so fresh,'" Garcia explained. "That really surprised us because it’s fried chicken."
If the Naked Chicken Chalupa is successful, the chain will probably expand and create more variations and flavors of the product.