Do you enjoy Nacho Fries, the spicy-seasoned potato menu item that comes with warm nacho cheese sauce at Taco Bell? That’s too bad, because as of January 2022, the fries are not currently being offered at the taco chain’s locations.
But why not? If it’s a popular order, why not make it available all the time?
While it might seem logical to just keep the fries on the menu, there’s a business strategy at work. According to Business Insider, the 2018 launch of the fries saw 53 million orders between January and April, an apparent scramble to consume the fries before they disappeared from stores. The introduction was so successful that Nacho Fries even triumphed over Taco Bell’s famed Doritos Locos Taco.
“We're seeing fries in one out of every three orders, compared to one out of every four for [Doritos Locos Taco],” Taco Bell spokesman Matt Prince said in 2018.
Their periodic reappearances—Taco Bell has reintroduced them seven times since, with the last being in July 2021—add to their appeal. When they’re on the menu, people order. When they’re not, people keep awareness of them high by lamenting their absence on social media. By the time they’re available again, the pent-up demand leads to another burst of sales.
A similar strategy has long paid off for McDonald’s, which keeps its vaunted McRib sandwich as a limited-time order. Even Disney used the artificial scarcity ploy when they would insist their animated classics would be available on VHS only for a limited time as part of the Disney Vault program in the 1980s and 1990s.
There’s no word on when Taco Bell’s Nacho Fries will return, but pondering the question is almost as important to the company’s bottom line as the food itself.
[h/t Business Insider]