On May 20, Taco Bell re-released its Naked Chicken Chalupa — a chalupa made with a fried chicken shell — marking the chain’s foray into the fast-food chicken sandwich wars.
In an announcement, Taco Bell said that its decision to re-release the Naked Chicken Chalupa was a way for customers to experience “a different way to enjoy chicken” amid the “chicken sandwich sameness.”
The Naked Chicken Chalupa originally came out in 2017. In 2018, Insider called it the chain’s “most controversial chalupa ever.”
The chalupa has a crunchy fried chicken shell wrapped around lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and an avocado ranch sauce that absolutely no one is emotionally or spiritually prepared for.
It’s no secret that I am a big Taco Bell fan. Its recent re-release of the Beefy Potato-rito derailed two workdays for me because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Plus, if something’s ever dubbed “controversial,” you bet your bottom dollar I will be trying it.
The Naked Chicken Chalupa made me question everything I thought I knew about the Taco Bell menu. Sure, sometimes there are secret menu hacks that I learn from teens on TikTok — like this DIY twist on the Baja Blast — but for the most part, I know what to expect with the food.
“When you look at the industry, you see the same sandwich being introduced as new everywhere, but at Taco Bell, being a follower isn’t our philosophy. We’ve listened to our fans and we’re confident this is the perfect time to bring back this fan-favorite,” Liz Matthews, Taco Bell’s chief food innovation officer, said in a press release.
First of all, how do I become a chief food innovation officer?
Second, this was an excellent call. I roll my eyes at “fan-favorite” menu items because they usually don’t live up to expectations, but I will be signing any and all Change.org petitions to make the Naked Chicken Chalupa a permanent fixture.
I’ve still never tried anything that matches up with Popeye’s chicken sandwich — McDonald’s attempt was a disaster — but the Naked Chicken Chalupa is just a whole different ball game. You could put the avocado ranch sauce on a napkin and I would eat it.
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