Taco Bell is thinking so far outside the bun, to borrow its old advertising tagline, that it’s reached further on to supermarkets shelves.
The Mexican fast-food arm of Louisville-based Yum Brands announced Thursday that it’s launching a line of tortilla chips, which will be sold at grocery and convenience stores.
The new chips are yet another example of how fast-food makers have tried to make inroads outside their eateries, extending their brand into new sales realms. Taco Bell already has had a line of packaged products through a deal with Kraft, including meal kits, beans, crunchy taco shells and bottled hot sauces.
Coming in May, the chips will come in three different degrees of relative spiciness — from none, mild and “Fire,” which takes its name from Taco Bell’s hot sauce packets.
The Mild chips will be powered by three kinds of chili peppers and cumin while the Fire flavor will pack the punch of jalapeño, chili peppers and paprika, according to the company.
All three flavors will come in one-ounce, 3.5-ounce and 30-ounce bags. The Classic chips will also be available in a 13-ounce bag and the Mild and Fire versions in an 11-ounce bag.
Taco Bell didn’t release the prices, explaining that retailers will set those.
“This launch of our first line of sauce packet-inspired chips gives our fans a new way to access a taste of Taco Bell,” the company’s chief brand officer, Marisa Thalberg, said in a statement. “Our sauce packets are one of the brand’s most unique aspects and were the natural choice for both the flavors and packaging of our tortilla chips.”
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Snacking is a growth area. That’s important for the highly competitive and increasingly crowded fast-food industry. For example, this past fall, McDonald’s formed a partnership with Coca-Cola to sell ready-to-drink McCafé Frappé drinks.
Last year, 98% of U.S. households bought at least one snack item, according to consumer data company Nielsen.
Last month, Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol quit to become CEO of Chipotle Mexican Grill.
Besides Taco Bell. Yum Brands also owns Pizza Hut and KFC.