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Taco Bell Tests Egg-Stuffed Waffles in California Stores

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May 14 (Bloomberg) -- If there’s a chain that can pull off selling scrambled egg-stuffed waffles, it’s Taco Bell, which brought the world the Doritos Locos Taco mashup.

The fast-food chain owned by Yum! Brands Inc. is testing a waffle rolled up like a taco in “a handful” of restaurants in southern California, Rob Poetsch, a company spokesman, said in an e-mail.

“We’re pleased with the initial reaction from our customers and if the Waffle Taco does well in testing, we’ll roll it out to all our restaurants that serve breakfast,” he said.

Taco Bell, long a favorite among the late-night party crowd, has recently been trying to attract customers in the morning. Last year, it started selling breakfast foods, such as the A.M. Crunchwrap and Cinnabon-brand doughnut bites, in about 820 U.S. stores, pitting it against McDonald’s Corp. -- the leader among fast-food chains selling breakfast.

“It’s a battle for share today,” said Darren Tristano, executive vice president at Technomic Inc., a Chicago-based consultant. Selling breakfast foods gives Taco Bell the opportunity to “steal share from other fast-food chains and ultimately raise unit-level revenue and hopefully profitability,” Tristano said in an interview.

Cravings Menu

Still, it will be tough to match McDonald’s in the breakfast market, Tristano said. “They’re enormous, so it’s hard to imagine anyone catching up.”

Yum, which also owns Pizza Hut and KFC, rose 1.8 percent to $70.15 at the close in New York. The shares have gained 5.6 percent this year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has increased 16 percent.

Taco Bell is also testing a $1 Cravings Menu that it may roll out later this year across the U.S., the company said earlier this month. It includes items such as churros and a beefy-nacho loaded griller.

Yum, based in Louisville, Kentucky, had 5,695 Taco Bell stores in the U.S. at the end of last year, 18 percent of which were owned by the company.

To contact the reporter on this story: Leslie Patton in Chicago at lpatton5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Robin Ajello at rajello@bloomberg.net

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