Taco Bell, Transformed: Major Revamp of the Menu, Slogan, Restaurant Vibe

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The last several years haven’t been good ones for Taco Bell. There was the E. Coli outbreak in 2006, the salmonella illnesses last year and the accusation that the fast-food chain’s beef is barely beef. (Taco Bell strongly denies this.) So, understandably, the restaurant is gearing up for a total makeover, complete with a new slogan, breakfast foods, Chipotle-style options and a taco made with Doritos chips.

Starting March 8, Taco Bell will begin a national rollout of a much-hyped new menu item: the Doritos Locos Taco. It’s aptly named, because instead of just your everyday tortilla shell, the Locos Taco has a shell made of cheesy Doritos chips and even has a special cardboard holster so you don’t get that fluorescent orange Doritos cheese dust all over your hands. The taco is two years in the making, and many people in the industry are expecting it to be an enormous hit. “Taco Bell could have a McDonald’s-like year,” an industry analyst told USA Today.

(MORE: McDonald’s Drops ‘Pink Slime’ From Hamburger Meat)

The chipmaker is also betting that the new product will boost its own brand. The chief marketing officer of Frito-Lay, which makes Doritos, told USA Today that after consumers eat a Doritos Locos Taco, a couple hours later, “you’re going to want a bag of Doritos.”

Along with the new taco, Taco Bell is attempting something it’s tried and failed at three separate times: breakfast. But this go-around, the Mexican food chain says it has learned from its mistakes and has discovered that most Americans just don’t want spicy items first thing in the morning. Instead, we generally want to eat more traditional foods like eggs and sausage. So this time, Taco Bell is going to use more of those types of breakfast foods and stuff them inside burritos. Cinnamon buns, made with baked-good chain Cinnabon, are also being served.

(MORE: Getting Real About the High Price of ‘Cheap Food’)

What’s more, Taco Bell has taken notice of Chipotle’s success over the few years and believes that it can start competing with the more upscale Mexican restaurant. Taco Bell has begun testing a “Cantina Bell” line of higher-end foods with natural ingredients like all-white-meat chicken in cilantro dressing and grilled corn salsa, and it’s offering these items for few dollars less than Chipotle.

Considering the sweeping changes the 5,600-unit chain is undertaking, it will also soon roll out a new slogan. Say goodbye to “Think outside the bun” and welcome in “Live Mas.” Mas is Spanish for “more,” and it evokes the rather popular “Yo quiero Taco Bell” that the fast-food chain successfully used along with their recognizable talking Chihuahua. It’s a move to make customers think of Taco Bell as a lifestyle choice rather than just a place to pick up a cheap taco. Taco Bell is hoping that the new slogan, as well as its series of bold moves, will translate into customers visiting and spending mas as well.

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