The untold truth of Taco Bell's breakfast

Breakfast has been called the most important meal of the day. Whether or not that's true is up for debate, but regardless, we can all agree that a tasty breakfast is great way to get moving. Unfortunately, not everyone makes time to start their mornings with a satisfying dose of sustenance. Fortunately, plenty of fast food places are well aware of the "I don't have for breakfast" dilemma, and they make it easy for people to grab a quick bite on their way to wherever they're going. Lucky for our appetites, Taco Bell is one of these places.

Taco Bell didn't always have an array of breakfast foods, but once they realized how successful other establishments were when it came to those morning wake ups, they hopped into the bandwagon, took the wheel, and cranked it into overdrive. There's a lot about the menu you might already know, but even the most dedicated Bell-heads can learn a thing or two.

Take a seat and prepare for a deep dive into the world of early-morning eats. This is the untold truth of Taco Bell's breakfast game. Let's play ball.

Taco Bell breakfast is served later than most competitors

What happens when you glance at the clock and realize you missed the 10:30 a.m. cutoff of nearly every fast food place around. You could trudge over to McDonald's again for their all-day breakfast, or you can take a much-needed detour to the nearest Taco Bell because they have your morning munchies covered a bit later than many of their competitors.

While competitors like Burger King and Wendy's give customers a hard cutoff one half hour after the clock strikes 10, Taco Bell extends breakfast until 11. The hours of operation vary by location, so be warned if you're looking for a super early meal, you might want to call before you haul. But, once they do open, that menu stays up until 11 in the morn'. 

Just think of all the amazing things that can happen in only 30 minutes. Well, Taco Bell did, and they acted on it.

Half of Taco Bell's breakfast items are only $1 in some locations

In a world where frugality is, more often than not, the name of the game, you don't want to rush out the door and stress about the expense of breakfast possibly taking a toll on the ol' wallet. We've all faced the conundrum of splurging on breakfast knowing full well we might not have enough left over for a satisfying lunch. It's a debacle no one wants to confront, and Taco Bell offers the answer.

Sure, you could use the quarters that make up a dollar to purchase four colored gumballs from those chintzy machines, but why not do something way more satisfying like buying a Grilled Breakfast Burrito? Or a Grilled Breakfast Burrito with the addition of Fiesta Potatoes? Yea, that sounds way better. In fact, that buck can get you one of seven of the 14 breakfast items Taco Bell offers, depending on your location. Now do we have your attention?

Not only can you get the above options, but if you're at the right Taco Bell, you can also leave with an order of Cinnabon Delights, a soft breakfast taco, a sausage flatbread quesadilla, hash browns, or a mini skillet bowl. Sounds too good to be true, but here the truth sets you free (well, your appetite, at least). 

Breakfast was Taco Bell's largest marketing campaign ever

Without some kind of creative marketing strategy, a grandiose plan falls on its metaphorical face. Taco Bell knew in order to lead people away from a life full of McGriddle's and Croissan'wich's, they needed a strategy unlike any before. So, they launched the largest marketing campaign of their existence, kept their fingers crossed, and then watched as the Bell-ball swish into the net.

For as long as people could remember, McDonald's had a firm grip on the breakfast game. But, when the massive unveiling of Taco Bell's breakfast menu hit on March 27, 2014, McDonald's knew another player stepped onto the court ready to slam dunk, and it worked. In the quarterly report that followed the launch, David Novak, the then-CEO of parent company Yum! Brands, noted Taco Bell was "one of the few companies in the history of the QSR industry to launch breakfast successfully and profitably in year one." 

The popularity makes one wonder why breakfast wasn't part of Taco Bell's repertoire from the very beginning, but they had a specific reason for leaving it off. They sat back to see how the breakfast landscape played out among competitors, and once they realized it was a goldmine, they cocked back the trigger and pulled it.

The healthiest item on Taco Bell's breakfast menu still packs some calories

It's hard to land a physique worthy of a fitness magazine's cover, and we all know grabbing a quick bite at the local fast food joint isn't the way to do it. But, sometimes convenience takes precedence, and Taco Bell's breakfast is certainly convenient. Just know when you decide to indulge, you're not exactly loading your body up with the nutritional equivalent of kale.

As delicious as Taco Bell is, we know the name isn't synonymous with "healthy." Some of us don't mind a little saturated fat in the morning, but for those who keep a detailed notebook of calorie counts, the menu options are limited. Sure, you could restrict yourself to coffee which lands at a measly 10 calories, but a cup o' joe ain't gonna do for you what food does.

Unfortunately, simply munching down some hash browns won't either, but if you're looking to order the healthiest item, those golden fried patties are the play. Just know you're packing roughly 160 calories into your body, which might not sit well with your Crossfit instructor. But hey, that's your little secret.

Taco Bell has a Mountain Dew breakfast soda

Plenty of people who opt out of breakfast every morning slam an energy drink in lieu of actual nutrition. But, what if  there was an energy drink made to pair with food instead of acting as its replacement? That's a question Taco Bell pondered. Then they unleashed the fuel beast.

It's called Kickstart, and you can thank the lovely people at Mountain Dew for giving the world the morning jolt it needs. With a name like Kickstart, you know what you're in for: a swift kick in the trousers while you rub the sleep out of your eyes and dread the next eight hours at the office. 

What exactly does Kickstart taste like? Well, imagine Mountain Dew met up with orange juice on top of a hill, and then an orange-flavored carbonated drink came rolling down (like a Jack and Jill situation). Is soda really the best thing to pair with Taco Bell on your way to the office, though? There's only one way to find out.

Taco Bell's breakfast may be hurting McDonald's

When it comes to quick-service breakfast, for the longest time, McDonald's reigned supreme. They offer a quick energy boost with the McCafe, the enticing pancake-bunned McGriddle, the famous Egg McMuffin, and just about everything else with a "Mc" in front of it. But, now that Taco Bell's a player in the game, those shiny Golden Arches look a little... tarnished.

Although it might seem like there's no toppling the almighty McEmpire, Taco Bell's proven otherwise. This quote from Steve Eastbrook, Mcdonald's CEO since 2015, says it all: "When you look at our breakfast performance overall... we've just begun to lose a little bit of share at that daypart." That's a sentence McDonald's never thought they'd say. Yet, they did. Believe it or not, that slight drop happened at the same that Taco Bell unleashed their breakfast menu.

The erosion of McDonald's numbers signal a change in the breakfast race. What once was almost solely run by those all-encompassing Golden Arches now has Taco Bell in the lane next to them.

No one like Taco Bell's coffee

Whether people like their coffee dark roast, light roast, sugar-filled, with creamer, or black, they'll say they owe much of their morning productivity to those brewed beans. At Taco Bell, however, even the people at the top of the corporate ladder admit their coffee isn't a selling point. But, ask them if they care.

They don't. Well, at least from a "will-people-still-come?" standpoint. Melissa Friebe, the senior vice president of brand and marketing, admitted to Forbes (via The Takeout) lots of people who come to Taco Bell looking for breakfast see coffee on the menu and think, "Uh no way am I drinking that Taco Bell coffee, where the hell is the nearest Dunkin'." That sort of admittance usually puts a dent in pride, but Taco Bell holds their head up high and knows just because their coffee game might suffer, the rest of the menu makes up for it.

The creativity of the breakfast menu, according to Friebe, causes consumers to forget about the comfortable morning routine coffee offers. "Our creative products have done really well, so that has been a pleasant surprise for us... Based on what our consumers said they wanted, we've done better than expected." Well played, madam.

Taco Bell's Waffle Taco took over the breakfast world

People feel like they've seen it all, and more importantly, eaten it all. But, every once in a while, something entirely unique hits the market that causes so much buzz you can't help but want –  no, need — to be part of the craze. And that's exactly what the Waffle Taco did.

The idea behind the Waffle Taco came from Heather Mottorshaw, Taco Bell's director of product development, after she saw a Facebook photo of her friend folding a waffle around eggs, avocados, and a few other breakfast ingredients. While some people only saw a cool idea, Mottorshaw saw lightning in a bottle. After showing the idea to the creative team, Taco Bell went through 80 potential variations before settling on a winner. "As soon as the team started to see it, there was this instant excitement, this buzz that this is a cool idea, this is a big idea," Mottorshaw said. 

Now, if you feel the excitement of the Waffle Taco quickly building in your gut, you have to shelve that craving. The item came and it went. It's now a distant — but delicious — memory for those lucky enough to have indulged while it lasted. Will Taco Bell ever re-release the epic creation? It's hard to say. But, until then, you can grab yourself a box of Eggos and MacGyver your own.