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Waffle taco among items on new Taco Bell breakfast menu

By Candice Choi

AP Food Industry Writer

LAST UPDATED: 03:30 p.m. HST, Feb 24, 2014

NEW YORK >> Egg McMuffin, meet the Waffle Taco.

Taco Bell is readying for the launch of its national breakfast menu on March 27, with items such as the A.M. Crunchwrap designed to appeal to its fan base of younger men. And the chain says breakfast will be available until 11 a.m. -- a half-hour later than McDonald's offers its Egg McMuffins.

"We can turn the breakfast conversation into a two-horse race," Taco Bell President Brian Niccol said in an interview, noting that Taco Bell intends to be a "strong No. 2" after McDonald's.

McDonald's has long been the fast-food leader in the mornings, with its popular Sausage Biscuits, Hotcakes and other items pulling in roughly 20 percent of the company's U.S. sales. But the chain has been facing stiffer competition over the years, with places such as Starbucks and Subway looking for a piece of the growing breakfast business.

On March 4, for instance, Starbucks also plans to roll out new and revamped breakfast sandwiches, including a croissant sandwich with ham, cheese and egg.

It's not clear how Taco Bell's entry into breakfast will alter the fast-food landscape. Last year, an executive with Taco Bell's parent company Yum Brands said that breakfast accounted for about 4 percent of sales in locations where it was tested. But that was before the chain put its full marketing might behind the menu, he noted.

McDonald's, which has more than 14,000 U.S. locations, has also said it plans to step up its marketing of breakfast this year as new players enter the space. Separately, the president of McDonald's USA, Jeff Stratton, also told the Associated Press that the chain is in the early stages of looking at whether it can extend its breakfast hours.

Stratton noted that cutting off breakfast on the weekends at 10:30 a.m. "doesn't go very well" with people in their 20s and 30s in particular. Still, figuring out how to serve both breakfast and lunch poses an operational challenge given the limited kitchen space in restaurants.

In the meantime, Kevin Newell, U.S. brand and strategy officer for McDonald's, seemed unfazed in an interview late last week by Taco Bell's breakfast plans.

"I think they're going to find that going into the breakfast business is not like what they're accustomed to, in terms of marketing," Newell said. The breakfast menus of the two chains only have one main offering that seems to go head-to-head, a sausage and egg burrito.

Taco Bell has been testing and tweaking its menu in a select number of its nearly 6,000 U.S. locations over the past several months. For the national rollout, the company's restaurants have had to hire additional staff, train existing staff and buy new equipment, including for the coffee it plans to start serving for the first time.

To keep operations simple at the start, Niccol said Taco Bell will start with drip coffee before expanding to specialty coffees such as lattes.

The items on Taco Bell's breakfast menu are intended to be easy to hold and eat on the go. They include:

-- A.M. Crunchwrap -- scrambled eggs, a hash brown, cheese and bacon, sausage or steak in a flour tortilla.

-- Waffle Taco -- a waffle wrapped around a sausage patty or bacon, with scrambled eggs and cheese, served with a side of syrup.

-- Bacon and Egg Burrito -- Bacon, scrambled eggs and cheese wrapped in a flour tortilla

--Sausage Flatbread Melt -- A sausage patty topped with cheese wrapped in a flatbread and grilled.

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XML808 wrote:
If they serve a bean burrito in the morrning, that's good enough for me!
on February 24,2014 | 08:03AM
HAJAA1 wrote:
That should "propel" you throughout your day!
on February 24,2014 | 08:05AM
false wrote:
Yup, silent and violent. LOL
on February 24,2014 | 09:17AM
false wrote:
Makes no difference either way. Both very places serve very unhealthy foods.
on February 24,2014 | 09:16AM
Nevadan wrote:
Squeeze out the fat on napkins and it becomes less unhealthy
on February 24,2014 | 10:13AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
No problem if you work at the gas company.
on February 24,2014 | 09:39AM
Tahitigirl55 wrote:
The price and amount of food plays an important role. I don't care either way I eat only at McDonald because it is right on my way to work. As for Taco Bell it is far. I do want to try their need burrito's . They look good on TV.
on February 24,2014 | 11:33AM
GooglyMoogly wrote:
Fantastic! Now you can move that bout of crippling diarrhea up to mid-morning from its usual spot of late-at-night. Thanks Taco Bell!
on February 24,2014 | 01:07PM
cojef wrote:
MacDonald has good coffee, like it better than Starbucks which is more expensive to boot. Will like take a stab at waffle burger and see if it meets my expectations.
on February 24,2014 | 02:17PM
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