In the latest installment of the fast-food wars, Taco Bell is hoping to one-up KFC’s now-infamous “Double Down”—bacon and cheese sandwiched between two fried chicken filets—with the “Naked Chicken Chalupa.”
Originally dubbed the “Naked Crispy Chicken Taco,” and once available only at locations in Bakersfield, California, the creation is now ready to roll out nationally, according to BuzzFeed. The item builds on the concept that any foodstuff can be transformed into a taco as long as it’s folded down the middle (see: the “waffle taco” and the “biscuit taco”), but according to Taco Bell executives, the biggest hurdle to overcome has been public perception. Apparently, consumers aren’t taking the Naked Chicken Chalupa “seriously” yet.
“Think of all the crazy firsts that have existed in time and civilization,” Marisa Thalberg, the company’s chief marketing officer, told BuzzFeed. “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!’”
The shells reportedly taste like “a fried chicken wrap without the wrap” and contain cheese, lettuce, tomato, and avocado ranch sauce. According to Taco Bell, the few vegetables included in the item are leading customers to call it “healthy” and “fresh,” but the company promises not to market the deep-fried creation as a health food.
Still, past culinary mutations like the Double Down seem to have opened a Pandora’s box in the fast-food world.
“When you explain it to someone they create a visualization in their mind, but it you put it in front of someone and say, ‘Try it,’ then it’s like, ‘Okay, I get it,’” Steve Gomez, Taco Bell’s product development manager, told BuzzFeed. “Every year the benchmark gets higher and higher for new, big taco-innovation ideas.”