Taco Bell has gotten a lot of publicity for its shenanigans involving Mexican pizza. Yum!brand (Yum) – Get Yum!Brand Company Report The fast-food chain removed the item from its menu for pandemic-related reasons (hence it said) and then returned it this summer, but sold it out due to what the company described as unexpectedly high demand .
Now, the fan-favorite item is largely out of stock, and the fast-food chain is expected to bring it back later this year, possibly as early as the fall.
If this feels like a drawn-out publicity stunt giving you a headache, it probably is, but the chain will never admit it.The whole thing feels like a Coca-Cola (KO) – Get The Coca-Cola Company (The) report The New Coca-Cola event in 1985. The beverage company changed its classic recipe to horror for fans, only to bring back “Classic Coke” a few months later.
Many thought the whole thing was planned from the start, but Coca-Cola executives always claimed it wasn’t. Either way, these moves have attracted a lot of attention from the company, which seems to be the playbook Taco Bell has been following.
Now, companies that do business with Taco Bell may be doing the same with another beloved food item.
Is Choco Taco gone forever?
Although Choco Taco is Unilever (UL) – Get the Unilever PLC report Products sold under the Klondike brand have appeared on Taco Bell’s menu several times. It was even brought back for a short period earlier this year.
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“We are delighted to reunite with our Klondike partners and test the iconic chocolate taco with today’s consumers,” Liz Matthews, Taco Bell’s global chief food innovation officer, said in a press release. Bringing back such a nostalgic favorite afterwards – a year’s absence is special and doing so during our 60th anniversary is a perfect fit. “
So, with the two companies so closely linked, it’s not a stretch to think that Unilever, which recently and very publicly decided to stop making Choco Taco, wants to kill the beloved snack so it can come back stronger.
It’s possible, or even likely, that Unilever has a plan here. The company has been streamlining its portfolio with sales and closures, and it’s possible that it’s just trying to see what happens. If there is a wave of public support, we may see a revival of Choco Taco – perhaps through the program being a seasonal limited-time offer at Taco Bell,
If the public outrage is fleeting, the brand may actually die, or a third option may emerge.
Nostalgia has become big business
Well-known brands have become a bit like comic book characters. Sure, they can die, but death never seems to be that permanent, and the point of death is probably to return.
“Just because a beloved product goes out of production doesn’t mean it’s gone forever. After Hostess went bankrupt in 2012 and stopped making its beloved Twinkies, the company was quickly acquired by Apollo Global Management and Metropoulos & Co, and went public in 2016. Necco Wafers were discontinued in 2018 due to the bankruptcy of the New England Candy Company, but they return in 2020, made by Spangler Candy,” FoodDive’s Megan Poinski reports.
Choco Taco’s death feels like a publicity stunt (and the company insists it isn’t actually). If people miss the product and use social media, it seems to be coming back one way or another.