Taco Bell thinks 'outside the bun' with new desserts

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Taco Bell is looking to keep customers coming in the door, even when they're not looking for an entire meal. The Mexican-style chain is set to add two desserts to its menu. It will be adding churros and cookie sandwiches to the current lineup of cinnamon twists and caramel apple empanadas.

It's part of a "snack strategy" that will be a part of a "Happier Hour" TV campaign early next year. The fast-food chain is also looking to add new savory snack, with the introduction of its "loaded grillers," which are nachos, chicken or loaded baked potato wrapped in a tortilla.

Keep the Customers Coming In 

The move follows a broader trend in the fast-food industry, with companies trying to find new ways to attract customers at all hours of the day. McDonald's has seen great success in recent years in large part because of the introduction of its specialty coffee drinks in 2009 and fruit smoothies in 2010. Burger King followed suit this year with its own specialty coffees and smoothies, and Wendy's is testing specialty coffees in select markets. 

Attracting customers to restaurants during those between-meal hours has become a critical way to drive sales, because chains have to pay for fixed costs such as electricity and labor anyway. The strategy is particularly relevant for Taco Bell because its younger customer base tends to snack around the clock, said Brian Niccol, Taco Bell's chief marketing officer. 

Taco Bell is owned by Yum Brands Inc., which also owns KFC and Pizza Hut.

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