Lest any of you need a reminder, the fast food Chicken Sandwich Wars are far from over. In the two short years since Popeyes released the new gold standard in Southern-style fried chicken sandwiches, many imitators have come and gone, and some have even given Popeyes a run for its money. Nearly all the major players have gotten in on the game: McDonald’s, Burger King, Hardee’s, KFC. But I say “nearly” because one very important name in fast food hasn’t yet jumped into the fray—until now. Taco Bell’s new Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco will be rolled out nationwide starting September 2, one week from today.
Glad you asked. We first learned of the hybrid sandwich/taco concept back in February, when it was being test marketed in Nashville, Tennessee and Charlotte, North Carolina. I can’t tell you how many times I pulled up the driving directions from Chicago to Nashville in the ensuing six months, wondering, “Could I? Should I?” I mean, just listen to this description from a Taco Bell press release, and you might consider driving eight hours, too:
The Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco features all-white meat crispy chicken marinated in jalapeño buttermilk, seasoned with bold Mexican spices and rolled in a crunchy tortilla chip coating. It’s served on a warm soft flatbread shaped in an iconic taco form and flavored with Taco Bell’s signature creamy chipotle sauce. Enjoy it Regular or Spicy with crunchy jalapeño slices for those who want an extra kick.
While this description left me obsessed with tasting the Chicken Sandwich Taco for myself, fast food chicken sandwich progenitor Popeyes was quick to mock the concept, releasing a TikTok video about how to turn a Popeyes chicken sandwich into a taco. And the marketing language around Taco Bell’s newest item clearly anticipates a healthy amount of debate: “Is this disruptive, delicious new item a sandwich or a taco, you ask?” the press release asks. “Well, it’s a sandwich AND a taco. And it doesn’t have to explain itself to be this delicious.”
Taco Bell is so ready for the world to be confounded by the Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco that it has recruited both the University of Georgia debate team and the Clemson University debate team to hold “The Great Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco Debate.” It’ll air as a series of ad spots during the Georgia vs. Clemson primetime college football game on Saturday, Sept. 4, presumably after each team has had ample time to taste test the topic of discussion.
“Even the masterminds from our test kitchen couldn’t decide if it was more taco or sandwich, which is why we’re excited to bring in the debate team experts to have some fun,” says Taco Bell’s Global Chief Food Innovation Officer Liz Matthews in a press release.
This is a level of dedication to food philosophy that The Takeout can get behind. Is a hot dog a sandwich? Is a Taco Bell Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco a sandwich? The answer probably can’t be known until we get our hands on one, to taste at last the strange mash-up we’ve been waiting for. Let’s hope it lives up to our considerable expectations. And hey, at $2.49 each (or two for $4.49), they’re the right price to take a risk on.