Best New Menu Item: Doritos Locos Tacos from Taco Bell, Irvine, Calif.
These taco-shaped nacho cheese Doritos stuffed with Taco Bell filling were introduced across this Yum! Brands subsidiary’s 5,670 units on March 8, 2012. One hundred million Doritos Locos Tacos were sold in the first 10 weeks of the release, resulting in a same-store sales increase of 13 percent — making it the most successful product launch in the chain’s 50-year history. The tacos were introduced at a suggested price of $1.29 for a regular Doritos Locos Taco and $1.69 for a Doritos Locos Taco Supreme.
Best Menu/Line Extension: Slow braised naturally raised pork from Noodles & Company, Broomfield, Colo.
This 314-unit fast-casual chain augmented its existing line of , steak, shrimp and tofu with this new protein, which can be added to any dish for $2.69. Marinated, seared, slow-roasted and then hand-pulled, this item has about 160 calories per serving and was promoted with two limited-time offerings: a pulled pork sandwich on ciabatta, and pork-topped macaroni and cheese drizzled with barbecue sauce and topped with crispy onion.
Best Menu Revamp: Red Lobster, Orlando, Fla.
On October 15, 2012, this 705-unit Darden Restaurants subsidiary launched the most comprehensive menu transformation in the brand’s 40-year history, addressing concerns about high prices and limited variety.
The chain now features more entrées priced under $15; vegetarian options; expanded beverage options including handcrafted lemonades, flavored teas and skinny cocktails; and it’s first-ever pork chop — wood grilled and topped with apple compote and peach bourbon barbecue sauce.