Taco Bell brings back Beefy Crunch Burrito in Chattanooga market test

Fans cheer return after 7-year campaign to bring menu item back

FILE - This Friday, May 23, 2014, file photo, shows the sign at a Taco Bell in Mount Lebanon, Pa. Taco Bell spokesman Rob Poetsch said Feb. 23, 2017, that theits Naked Chicken Chalupa, a sandwhich with a shell made out of fried chicken, will be pulled from menus as it was always intended to be a limited time offer. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

Taco Bell is bringing back its Beefy Crunch Burrito for $1 at its Chattanooga area restaurants for the next three months as a test to see if the menu item may be brought back nationwide.

Fans of the discontinued menu item, who have urged Taco Bell for seven years to bring back the Beefy Crunch Burrito via a social media movement (Beefy Crunch Movement), vowed this week to help make the Chattanooga test successful.

The test, which began Wednesday at some franchised Taco Bell locations, will be taking place in 30 Chattanooga restaurants through mid-July to judge consumer interest in the former menu item. Depending on its success in Chattanooga, fans who have been urging Taco Bell to bring the Beefy Crunch Burrito back for the past seven years could see a permanent return for all Taco Bell units next year.

More than 68,000 people like the Beefy Crunch Facebook page - which exploded with excitement when the Chattanooga news broke with some fans planning trips to Chattanooga to buy the Beefy Crunch Burritos and others urging Chattanoogans to buy the menu item to ensure its success. One person even offered to start a GoFundMe effort to raise money to pay for more purchases of the menu item to show its appeal.

"The next 12 weeks are literally the most important weeks ever," said Richard Axton, who has been leading the charge to bring back the Beefy Crunch Burrito since 2011 when the limited-time offering left Taco Bell's menu for the first time. "My flight is booked. I'm coming to Chattanooga on May 6th and 7th."

In a statement to supporters of the Beefy Brunch Burrito, Taco Bell said supporters of the menu item "truly are the most passionate and dedicated community of burrito lovers a brand could ever ask for.

"Bringing back the Beefy Crunch Burrito is not an easy task," the company said in a statement. "But we've been trying to figure it out."

Taco Bell said bringing back the Beefy Crunch Burrito means "we'll have to make changes to the menu to justify the return and this test will measure the success of those decisions."

But Taco Bell executives seem to have welcomed the protests over the menu over the past seven years.

"We love it, and we love to engage with folks that love our different products," Melissa Lora, Taco Bell's international president, told Business Insider. "You listen, and you respond."

Fans of the Beefy Crunch Burrito are already planning to come to Chattanooga to buy some of the Beefy Crunch Burrito. Danny R. Rowe from Kentucky said he is already making plans to travel to Chattanooga for his Taco Bell treat.

"I'm a bit peeved about the limited market location but I will be road tripping form Kentucky as soon as they start serving bcb (Beefy Crunch Burritos)," he said.

Harlee Milligan, who promised on Facebook to buy at least 700 of the Beefy Crunch Burritos, greeted the news of the Chattanooga field test with glee.

"I am never been so happy to be from Chattanooga in my life," she said.

Fans across the country appealed to Chattanoogans to help support their favorite menu item to convince Taco Bell to restore it on their menu.

"All I can do is cry and cheer you guys on from here in Boise, Idaho," Arlana Fletcher said. "For the love off burritos, everyone from there (Chattanooga) please get as many as you can."

Also this week, Taco Bell is debuting its new $1 Triple Melt Burrito and $1 Triple Melt Nachos across the United States.

Contact Dave Flessner at dlfessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340.