Fast Company has a fascinating look at how fast food and food industry innovation works. Writer Austin Carr gets deep into the history of how Doritos Locos tacos were conceived and executed. He learns that even though the first initial test failed to impress consumers, Taco Bell knew it had a hit on its hands. The company's gut instinct was correct -- the brand has now sold more than 450 million Doritos Locos.
And how did the team prove its point? Spray paint guns, of course:
To show executives how the companies could fuse the flavor of Doritos with taco shells, the dev teams "basically went out to Home Depot to buy a paint-spray gun, and then sprayed [Doritos] flavoring onto our existing yellow corn tacos," recalls Creed, with a chuckle. "It was pretty funny watching people from behind glass spraying our tacos with a paint gun. But it was enough for us to know conceptually that we had a big idea.
The company went through 40 recipes over two years to come up with a product that worked for the marketplace. There were issues with "crunch" levels, taste and seasoning. Regarding the seasoning, there were some amusing olfactory roadblocks:
In fact, the companies ended up creating a proprietary seasoner in the process, not least because for workers on the manufacturing line, the plumes of Doritos seasoning would create an almost Nacho Cheese gas chamber. "We realized pretty quickly that we had to seal that all in, because in the facilities, we couldn't have all that stuff in the air," Creed says. "It would've been too much seasoning and flavor for our workers. We had to enclose it so the seasoning wouldn't escape. It would've been overpowering."
Once the kinks were worked out, and the product hit stores, it was an immediate success. It is a huge revenue-generator for the company. So what's next? In the future, Carr reveals that Taco Bell may crowdsource a future Doritos Locos flavor. Imagine the possibilities.
Read the whole Fast Company article here. It's worth it!
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