Ex-Interns: We Invented the Doritos Taco ... in 1995

And they offer up some proof
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2014 9:51 AM CDT
Ex-Interns: We Invented the Doritos Taco ... in 1995
This photo provided by Taco Bell shows a new advertisement for Doritos Locos Tacos shells.   (AP Photo/Taco Bell)

While interning for Taco Bell's ad agency in the summer of 1995, four college students took part in a competition. Their idea—which didn't win, yet might seem familiar: a taco shell made out of ... Doritos. Of course, Taco Bell ultimately came out with just that roughly 17 years later, and its insanely successful line of Doritos Locos Tacos has netted the firm more than $1 billion in sales. Andrea Watt, one of the former interns, tells the Huffington Post she doesn't want money ("I’m sure I signed away that anything I pitched to them was their property anyway"), but she wouldn't mind at least some credit—for an idea that she recalls being told wasn't "really that marketable." The Huffington Post has all sorts of proof of their idea, including promotional materials the team created. They suggested calling the product "Dorito Tacos," charging 79 cents, and having Matthew Perry shill for the item.

Another team member, Mark Rader, adds that the two flavors the team pitched—Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch—ended up being the first two flavors offered by Taco Bell. A former account supervisor for the ad agency at the time says "the client certainly saw all the pitches." But others have claimed to be the brains behind the taco, including a man whose 2013 obit widely touted him as having pitched the idea to Frito Lay in 2009, and a former prison inmate who's actually suing over the matter; he claims a mystery person stole a letter containing the idea from the USPS and gave it to Taco Bell. In response to the new claims, a rep for Taco Bell pointed out that concept and execution are two different things. Indeed, it ultimately took years of unusual testing to bring the taco to life. (More Taco Bell stories.)

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