Taco Bell puts Chattanooga's breakfast-eaters to the test (with video)

Taco Bell puts Chattanooga's breakfast-eaters to the test (with video)

August 9th, 2013 by Ellis Smith in Business Around the Region

Taco Bell started offering breakfast food in some of their Chattanooga restaurants at 6 a.m. on Thursday.

Photo by Patrick Smith/Times Free Press.

Breakfast selections

Waffle Taco - Suggested price: $1.79

Fruit Topped Yogurt Parfait - Suggested price: $1.99

Fruit Topped Oatmeal - Suggested price: $1.99

AM Crunchwrap™ (Bacon or Sausage) - $2.49

Cinnabon® Delights™ - Suggested price for 2: $1.00; 4: $1.49; 12-pack: $4.49

Bacon and Egg or Sausage and Egg Burrito - $1.49

Steak and Egg Burrito - $2.29

AM Griller Bacon or Sausage - $1.00

Hashbrown - $1.00

POLL: Would you eat a taco waffle?

Fourth Meal, meet First Meal. Taco Bell has rolled out a heart-stopping Chattanooga breakfast that will compete directly with similar a.m. offerings from McDonald's, Burger King and Subway if customers approve.

Born from the same spirit that spawned KFC's Double Down and Hardee's Monster Thickburger, the signature item - a waffle taco stuffed with sausage and eggs - kicks the grease level up a notch with a high-calorie snack that commuters can take on the road.

Thanks to science, Taco Bell has found a way to cook waffles that are both crispy enough to crunch properly and flexible enough to bend into the familiar taco shape. Though the version sold Thursday at Chattanooga's South Broad Street location appeared different from the one advertised - the sausage is cut up into small marbles instead of served in a patty as the photos show - it still appeared to be popular with customers, who steadily streamed into the store on the first day of the breakfast test in the Scenic City.

But there's also a kinder, gentler breakfast on sale alongside the meat-and-cheese celebration. Conscious of its customers' health concerns and following on the heels of its decision to ax its kids meals, Taco Bell also is offering a duo of longevity-friendly foods for those who are in a hurry but are worried about getting grease on their steering wheel.

A bowl of oatmeal topped with a sprinkling of brown sugar or a yogurt parfait with fruit offer legitimately heart-healthy options as a nod to the changing U.S. food landscape. The oatmeal is made with real Quaker oats, and the fruit is real fruit.

The effort is part of a nationwide trend to expand sales during the morning, picking a piece of what Nation's Restaurant News estimates is a $42 billion breakfast market. If customers say "si" to Taco Bell's new food, the Yum! Foods-owned chain could roll it out to all 6,000 of its locations, from just a few test markets currently.

Unsurprisingly, the chain offers a breakfast burrito, too. But it's no ordinary breakfast wrap. After McDonald's stole Taco Bell's thunder with its own breakfast burrito, Yum! Foods had to amp it up.

This A.M. Crunchwrap, as its called, is a circular burrito that fits nicely in the hand and in the mouth. Stuffed with bacon, hash browns, eggs and cheese, it combines an entire breakfast in a package that goes wherever you go.

Chase it down with some Mountain Dew Kickstart - a breakfast version of the high-caffeine beverage - or a cup of joe to wash away the morning sleepies.

Taco Bell's First Meal is available at the 25 company and franchise restaurants in Chattanooga. The company is also testing breakfast in Omaha, Neb., and Fresno, Calif.

"Our consumers tell us they want the classic tastes of breakfast with that Taco Bell twist, so we've created innovative new breakfast items like the Waffle Taco and the AM Crunchwrap" said Taco Bell spokesman Rob Poetsch. "If these destination menu items do well in our tests, we'll roll them out nationwide"