Waffle tacos, bacon milkshakes... it's a trend!

A screenshot of Taco Bell's new breakfast menu, including the Waffle Taco.

There's the Waffle Taco. Red Robin's got its bacon milkshake. KFC had the double down.

It's officially a trend. "We are seeing quite a bit of more indulgent, more interesting, and more innovative items coming out especially from fast food," says Darren Tristano with food industry research group Technomic.

But what are the ingredients behind these culinary chimeras?

1. "Whats driving it right now is that the quick service restaurant industry as a whole is not growing. The packaged food business is not growing. The need for innovation is critical right now" – Gary Stibel, The New England Consulting Group.

2. The need for buzz. Even if a flavor combo doesn't take off, it still creates hoopla. "If you shorten the product cycle and come out with new flavors that are only going to be a limited time thing, you effectively encourage more frequent trial by consumers" – R.J. Hottovy, restaurant analyst with Morning Star.

3. Millennials. Turns out they like to try new things, and they are helping fuel the trend. "It's a trend that has gained traction with younger consumers, and ultimately brands look to what's successful." “-- Darren Tristano with food industry research group Technomic

4. Laziness. Well maybe that's not fair. Busy-ness? Either way, Taco Bell's Waffle Taco is built to be portable and easy to deliver to the mouth. "What we have seen as a longer term trend is portability, the ability for the consumer in one hand have a sandwich and in the other hand steer their car or text." -- Darren Tristano with food industry research group Technomic.


Five food mashups to make your mouth water -- or your stomach turn

By Shea Huffman

Taco Bell's Waffle Taco is only the latest novelty food combination to hit the culinary market. There have been plenty of mashups from fast food chains, retail brands, and hipter chefs that have either provided the answer to our munchie-prayers, or unleashed abominations that nobody asked for.

1. The Cronut

 

(Via Wikimedia Commons)

Probably the most popular mashup in recent food history, the combination of croissant and doughnut took New York -- and subsequently your local doughnut shop -- by storm in the summer of 2013.

2. The Ramen Burger

The latest foodie trend out of New York is spreading as quickly as the cronut, and our taste buds couldn't be happier.

3. Doritos Locos Tacos

(Courtesy of Taco Bell)

Taco Bell actually has a fairly long history of . . . interesting food combinations. A taco shell covered in the popular tortilla chip's seasoning might not be appealing to those with more discerning palates, but for the fast food chain's target demographic, it was a no brainer.

4. Pop-Tart Ice Cream Sandwiches

(Courtesy of Carl's Jr.)

These fast food companies sure do know how to cater to their more . . . munchie-prone customers. The Pop-Tart Ice Cream Sandwich never made it out of test markets, but that can't stop you from getting out that ice cream scoop.

5. Baconnaise

(Courtesy of J&D Foods)

There's a reason this stuff comes up whenever someone talks about the obesity epidemic:

About the author

Sabri Ben-Achour is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the New York City bureau. He covers Wall Street, finance, and anything New York and money related.

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