Fading empire finds hope, solace in new Waffle Taco

To cleanse the palate, when was the last time we had an old-fashioned “insane gluttony” thread? I remember writing two or three dozen posts about the KFC Double Down back in the day, but not since Starbucks unveiled the coffee bigger than a human stomach have we paused to marvel at America’s descent into dietary madness, I think.

There are 846 results for the term “waffle taco” on Google News as I write this, such is our nation’s interest in fast-food chains rolling out unorthodox new can-you-top-this offerings. Can’t decide between scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast or a big fluffy waffle with syrup on it? Good news — now you don’t need to.

[Taco Bell] says the waffle taco, which includes scrambled eggs, sausage and a side of syrup, was the top seller during breakfast hours at the five Southern California restaurants where they were tested earlier this year. Now the company wants to see how it would fare on a bigger scale; the waffle tacos and a full breakfast menu will be expanded to about 100 restaurants in Fresno, Calif.; Omaha, Neb.; and Chattanooga, Tenn., starting Thursday…

Taco Bell isn’t alone in trying to serve food in different parts of the day. Since restaurant chains are already paying for fixed costs of such as rent and electricity, the thinking is that they want to ring up as many sales as possible throughout the day, not just during the busy lunch and dinner hours. In industry jargon, executives often refer to this concept as “expanding dayparts.”…

Since they were introduced in March, the waffle tacos have undergone some tweaks, including the frying time and temperature, Niccol said. The shape of the taco, which has 460 calories and 30 grams of fat, was changed to make it easier to hold the stuffing.

Also on the new TB breakfast menu: The magnificently named “A.M. Crunchwrap” (which doesn’t appear to have anything crunchy in it) and, for the more diet-conscious, some sort of Cinnabon concoction. The LA Times tried the Waffle Taco last year when it was being test-run in California and found it “mushy” and “rubbery,” i.e. fast food, but the promotional effort has been sensational. Not only is it getting wide coverage in media, as noted, but “Taco Bell” was trending earlier on Twitter.

Having been backed into a corner by TB’s bold breakfast gambit, McDonald’s now has no choice but to go nuclear:

McDonald’s is in the early stages of looking at whether it can make breakfast available later in the day…

McDonald’s has long entertained the idea of serving breakfast throughout the day. But the chain has been inching closer to making the idea a reality as it faces heightened competition and slumping sales. Last year, for example, the company began offering an “After Midnight” menu at select locations. The menu, available from midnight to 4 a.m., consisted of a limited mix of breakfast and lunch items so kitchen operations wouldn’t be overwhelmed.

The push to make breakfast outside normal hours also reflects how McDonald’s is working to keep pace with shifting habits. In particular, executives have noted that customers increasingly want foods personalized to their tastes and schedules.

As Taco Bell gobbles up some of McDonald’s breakfast market, McD’s gobbles up some of TB’s dinner clientele with the promise of all-day McMuffins. From there the escalation will be steady and ruefully predictable: Taco Bell extends its breakfast menu to all hours, then McDonald’s releases the Bacon Mac served on bacon strips instead of a bun, then TB counters with the Triple Bacon Burrito dipped in Bacon, and soon they’re putting together special “all bacon” menus to maximize their social-media presence. This way lies madness, my friends. But, as with American decline, I fear it’s inevitable.

Did any of our California readers try this thing? ‘Fess up. Exit question: Isn’t this basically just … a McGriddle?

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David Strom 4:01 PM on October 03, 2022