Taco Bell celebrated the return of potatoes to its menu with taco NFTs that sold out in minutes. Now, they’re reselling for thousands of dollars.

Taco Bell NFT
Taco Bell NFT.

Taco Bell just became the first fast food chain to jump into the NFT trend with five versions of digital art, selling five copies of each. Taco Bell is calling them “NFTacoBells.”

NFTs are digital assets that have been around since 2017, and in 2020 they became a $250 million market. Creators are already realizing the potential to make millions in the relatively new space. Grimes sold her digital collection for $5.8 million in a 20-minute auction. A Miami art collector sold a 10-second video for $6.6 million. The NBA Top Shot online marketplace has done over $65 million in sales in just the last week.

Taco Bell’s 25 total pieces of crypto-art sold in under 30 minutes on Sunday on the platform Rarible, the company told Insider. The five types were each related to Taco Bell’s menu in some way, and started out priced at $1 each. The “Ever-Crunching Tacos” piece received the highest bid of 2 WETH, or about $3,646, according to CoinGecko. One of the pieces is for sale now for 10 ETH, or $18,365.25.

Taco Bell NFT
Ever-Crunching Tacos.

Even with the low initial price of a dollar, the pieces can generate significant money for Taco Bell, which gets 0.01% in each subsequent sale. Taco Bell says all profits will go towards its Live Mas scholarship.

Another piece in the collection, “Tato Dimensions,” shows a 43-second clip of what looks like a spicy potato soft taco. The timing of these NFTs fits nicely with the return of potatoes to Taco Bell’s menu on March 11 after backlash from furious customers.

Taco Bell NFT
‘Tato Dimensions.

“Right now, we are in the experimentation phase of the market, so I would expect to see lots of different experiments from musical and visual artists, brands, tech companies, media companies, and creators of all stripes. Sometimes brands can be rewarded for embracing emerging consumer trends earlier than their peer group, so kudos to Taco Bell” Venture capitalist David Pakman, an investor in NBA Top Shot, told Insider in an email.

“That said, in the long run, I expect that there will be way more supply of NFTs than there is demand for them, and the cream will rise to the top,” Pakman said.

Taco Bell “may drop a second one in the future” the brand hinted.

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Taco Bell’s newest item is both a chicken sandwich and a taco, and it’s dropping in March

Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco_Regular
Taco Bell Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco.

  • Taco Bell is introducing a chicken sandwich taco.
  • It will launch in Tennessee and North Carolina in March ahead of a nationwide rollout.
  • Several fast food chains have introduced chicken sandwiches to compete with Chick-fil-A and Popeyes.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Taco Bell is becoming an unexpected participant in the chicken sandwich wars with a new Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco.

The hybrid menu item will first be available in Nashville, Tennessee and Charlotte, North Carolina beginning March 11, with a planned nation-wide rollout later this year. The Sandwich Tacos will retail for $2.49.

The chain is calling the new item “disruptive,” insisting it’s both a sandwich and a taco. It comes with white meat chicken marinated in jalapeno buttermilk, seasoned with spices, and rolled in tortilla chip coating. The chicken comes served in “puffy bread” folded into a taco shape with chipotle sauce.

Taco Bell will sell both regular and spicy versions. The spicy taco will come with jalapeno slices “for those who can take the heat,” the company says.

Crispy Chicken Sandwich Tacos
Taco Bell Crispy Chicken Sandwich Tacos.

Taco Bell is joining the ranks of nearly every other major fast food player with a crispy chicken sandwich option. 

Insider has reported on several chains gearing up to introduce competitors to Chick-fil-A and Popeyes, both of which sell crispy chicken sandwiches with pickles. In January, KFC introduced a crispy chicken sandwich at nine locations, available across the country by the end of February, and Jimmy John’s dropped its own version of the chicken sandwich in a Super Bowl ad. Burger King announced a new chicken sandwich coming later this year, and McDonald’s is bringing its own entry this month.

Taco Bell has been one of the most successful fast food chains throughout the pandemic of the last year. It cut more than a dozen items in 2020, including fan favorites like the seven-layer burrito and Mexican pizza. Despite outcry from fans last year, the leaner menu proved to be a smart decision as the chain shifted to more drive-thru orders, and sales grew 5% in the quarter following the menu change.

More menu changes are on the horizon too. Taco Bell announced potatoes would return to menus in March after months of protest. 

The company also teased that more chicken items are coming to the menu later this year, writing “Taco Bell fans everywhere will be excited to know this isn’t our only crispy chicken innovation arriving in 2021” in a statement.

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Taco Bell fans are demanding the chain bring back Mexican Pizza after announcing the return of potatoes. Here’s why a top Taco Bell exec says not to give up hope.

Taco Bell Mexican Pizza
Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizza.

  • Taco Bell removed Mexican Pizza from menus in November, and fans still aren’t over it.
  • An exec said “there’s always a chance” that the beloved dish returns.
  • Taco Bell just announced that potatoes would be back on the menu after they were slashed in 2020.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Taco Bell cut the Mexican Pizza from menus back in November, but some fans now have renewed hope that it might come back soon.

The Mexican Pizza was one of more than a dozen items cut from Taco Bell’s menu in 2020, alongside other beloved items like the seven-layer burrito and cheesy fiesta potatoes. Mexican Pizza consists of a flour tortilla shell filled with refried beans, seasoned ground beef, and Mexican sauce, topped with another tortilla, Mexican sauce, cheese, and chopped tomatoes.

Read more: Taco Bell’s Grilled Cheese Burrito – and its controversial decision to kill menu items like its beloved potatoes – send sales soaring

“While we know fans may be understandably sad to see some of their favorites go, this evolution of our menu truly paves the way for fresh new ideas,” Taco Bell President and Global Chief Operating Officer Mike Grams said in a September press release.

Since the announcement, fans have rallied around the Mexican Pizza and called for Taco Bell to bring it back.

@eatitkatie

First fiesta potatoes and now THIS?! TAG @tacobell to STOP THEM 🛑 ⬇️ ##Mexicanpizza ##eatitkatie ##tacobell

♬ original sound – Eat It Katie!

Fans shared recipes to recreate the dish at home, and a popup in Austin recreated the Mexican Pizza and other dishes fans missed the most.

Now, Mexican Pizza lovers might have reason to hope again. On January 14, Taco Bell announced potatoes would return to menus in March after months of protest. “We definitely heard from our consumers – because they love our potatoes,” Taco Bell’s global chief food innovation officer Liz Matthews told Insider. “We do have a direct line with our consumers and they’re loud and vocal, and we love that because they’re passionate about our brand.”

Taco Bell taco pizza

When Insider asked about the potential return of Mexican Pizza, Matthews said “I think there’s always a chance. We’re constantly listening to our customers. So, I wouldn’t pull that off the table.” 

Taco Bell frequently changes its menu, though rollout of new items slowed slightly during the pandemic. Despite outcries from fans last year, the leaner menu proved to be a smart decision as Taco Bell shifted to more drive-thru orders, and sales grew 5% in the quarter following the menu change.

Now, Taco Bell says it is working on new plant-based items in collaboration with Beyond Meat and new chicken items.

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I ate nothing but ‘healthy’ fast food for a week – here’s what happened

America has an obesity problem, but there are more 200,000 fast foods restaurants dotted throughout the country. Customers have been moving towards places with healthier menus and many traditional chains are adding items to address this. I tried eating these “healthy” fast foods for an entire week. I had every meal at McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Burger King, Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts or Chick-fil-A. Following is a full transcript of the video. 

Kevin Reilly: Fast food is cheap and convenient. But hidden in between the burgers and tacos are some “healthy” options: salads, grilled chicken, yogurts, oatmeal, power burritos. Doesn’t sound too bad, right? I spent a week eating nothing but these “healthy” fast foods and I lost six-and-a-half pounds. But even though I lost about a pound a day, it didn’t really go well.

I live in New York City, a place with every possible food you could want. Eating healthy here, it’s a breeze. But across America, there are more than 200,000 fast food joints, and they’re bringing in more than $200 billion a year in sales. And no matter where you go, you’re never far from a place like McDonald’s or Taco Bell. But in recent years, consumers want better, healthier choices, and the traditional fast food places have been losing customers to those fast casual healthy options.

The rules were pretty simple: Eat every major meal at a national fast-food chain and stick to the healthy options. McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Dunkin’ Donuts, Subway, and Chick-fil-A; nothing but them for a week. Yeah, I lost almost seven pounds, but let’s take a close look at the numbers.

On a normal day, I’m eating around 2,500 calories. An adult man should be having about 2,400 to 2,600 calories a day. But on this fast food plan, my calories plummeted. Most of these meals came in under 400 calories, and that was one of my first problems. I’d eat and just a couple hours later, I was starving. And I had days when I didn’t eat more than 1,000 calories.

Now, some of these meals were really good. My favorite was this grilled chicken market salad from Chick-fil-A. It had blueberries, strawberries, apples; it was delicious and it was actually healthy. However, a lot of the other salads from Burger King, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s were loaded with salt, often more than 50% of what I needed for the entire day, from a salad. In fact, excess salt was a problem the entire week. I thought I had hit the jackpot with Taco Bell’s al Fresco menu. They take off all the cheese and mayo-based sauces and replace it with lettuce and pico de gallo. One night I got tacos, another night I got a power cantina burrito, and these were meals with more protein than usual. So, I felt like I was getting enough food. They were good, too good. It was all salt. In fact, just one burrito had almost as much salt as I needed in just one day. The American Heart Association says we should limit our sodium to about 2,300 milligrams a day, but the ideal is closer to 1,500 milligrams a day, especially for a person like me with high blood pressure. But if you look at my sodium intake, it was high every day, yet I was barely getting the calories I needed. If I wanted to keep the sodium down, I was starving. If I wanted to feel full, salt through the roof. You see, that’s an issue in the fast food industry. Wendy’s even acknowledges on their website that there’s going to be a trade-off between salt and flavor.

It was weird. I didn’t feel healthy at all throughout the week, even though I was eating healthy foods and losing weight. And on the last day, I had this massive headache that was just infuriating. These places, they’re supposed to be tasty, cheap, and convenient. But it wasn’t cheap. Every healthy option was expensive, but left me hungry. For eight grilled nuggets and this tiny kale salad at Chick-fil-A, $12. For the power Mediterranean salad at Wendy’s, it was almost $8, yet I could get a cheeseburger, nuggets, fries, and a soda for only $4. That brings me to another problem. Walk into McDonald’s and you get hit with that sweet, sweet french fry smell, and I had to get a salad.

Would I recommend this to anyone? Nope, unless you’re stuck on the road with no other options. Though there was a bright spot: breakfast at Subway. They have these egg-white-and-cheese sandwiches, which I got covered in spinach and peppers. And let me tell you, it was good. But after all this, I just want a cheeseburger.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in May 2018.

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Fast food franchisees collected more than $1 billion in federal PPP aid earmarked for small businesses, analysis finds

Pizza Hut
A Pizza Hut location, which is owned by Yum Brands Inc, is pictured ahead of their company results in Pasadena, California, U.S., July 11, 2016.

  • The federal PPP program gave loans to small businesses to keep employees on payrolls. 
  • The maximum loan was $10 million, and loans could be forgiven under certain circumstances. 
  • Franchisees who owned multiple locations of fast-food chains received $1 billion in aid, the Counter reported.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Fast-food franchisees amassed more than $1 billion in federal aid through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), The Counter reported.

The PPP was created in the spring to help small businesses continue to pay employees as the COVID-19 pandemic led to widespread layoffs, with loans that could be forgiven under certain circumstances. The Counter’s analysis of loans over $3 million found that the largest loans to fast food and fast-casual restaurants went to companies that owned multiple franchises. 

A Taco Bell franchisee in Minnesota, a Wendy’s franchisee in Texas, and a McDonald’s franchisee in Florida were all recipients of the maximum $10 million in aid, The Counter found. Not all franchisees are exactly small businesses, either. One PPP recipient was a group that owned more than 200 Pizza Hut locations across California. 

Read more: ‘The ketchup has hit the fan’: McDonald’s makes changes to shift costs to franchisees, reigniting an internal battle at the fast-food giant

Over half of the $552 billion in PPP funds went to just 5% of recipients, the Treasury Department found, and $30 billion of the funding went to restaurants. Chain restaurants became eligible for PPP loans through a loophole lobbied for by the National Restaurant Association: they were eligible as long as fewer than 500 people were employed at any one location.

“As small business owners, the nearly 2,000 independent franchisees who own and operate McDonald’s restaurants across the country have been proud to continue to serve communities, first responders, and frontline workers while providing meaningful employment to more than 800,000 individuals during this incredibly challenging time,” McDonald’s USA told Business Insider in an emailed statement. “As the law intended, independent small business owner franchisees were able to use PPP loans to support payroll for the continued employment of their local employees and minimize economic impact to the communities that have always been there for them,” 

Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some fast-food or fast-casual chains opted to give back loans after public outcry, including Shake Shack, Potbelly, and Sweetgreen which all paid back PPP loans they were given.

Fast-food chains were only one of the controversial recipients of PPP loans. Business Insider found several other beneficiaries that raised some eyebrows, including Burning Man, the Ayn Rand Institute, and the national Girl Scouts of America.

Read The Counter’s full report here>>

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