Taco Bell's Mexican pizza makes a comeback as fast-food chains look to draw customers

Yahoo Finance Live’s Julie Hyman and Brian Sozzi discuss the return of Taco Bell’s ‘Mexican Pizza’ after a two-year hiatus.

Video Transcript

JULIE HYMAN: Into the [INAUDIBLE] Sozzi's Take. Brian Sozzi is getting excited about pizza. Yo quiero pizza, shall we say? Taco Bell is bringing back its beloved Mexican pizza. Is it so-called Mexican pizza?

BRIAN SOZZI: Yes, it is.

JULIE HYMAN: So this is-- and this is one of my old faves. So it's like two crispy--

BRIAN SOZZI: Tortillas.

JULIE HYMAN: Tortillas.

BRIAN SOZZI: And some beef and some sauce. It's everything you find at Taco Bell, except stuffed between that. And I'm essentially doing this take for you, Julie Hyman. I knew you are a big fan of this. So this was launched, the Mexican pizza, in 1985. Taco Bell took it off the menu in 2020, in large part as they just streamlined their menu, tried to finetune costs. But the response on social media is like, hey, guys, you got to bring this back. We love the Mexican pizza.

And we had Yum Brands CEO David Gibbs on with us for earnings a couple of months ago, and we asked him, hey, are you going to bring this back? And he sounded open to it. And I briefly caught up with him again last night via email. He's pretty jazzed up about this release. I think he's pretty excited, as he should be. This could be a key draft traffic driving move here for Taco Bell, which has about 7,800 restaurants now, mostly in the US, but some overseas, at a time when there's not a lot of innovation happening in fast food.

Look at these boring releases, Julie. We have Popeyes Surf and Turf. And no offense to friend of the show, Jose Cil, over at Restaurant Brands. Surf and Turf doesn't necessarily get me excited. We're talking Spicy Nuggets at McDonald's. Who cares about that? You want Spicy Nuggets? Go to Wendy's. Then you have the new McDonald's Szechuan sauce. Who really cares about that? Use barbecue sauce.

But still, this is a unique item for Taco Bell. They could come back, drive some traffic, and maybe get its stock going again. Yum Brand shares down 11.5% year to date. A lot of focus on just pressures on costs. And there I am, again, every day here, every day here on Yahoo Finance, a simple Sozzi take. Order me two, bro. And $4.49, you can get two of those for under 10 bucks. And I can help Yum Brands' bottom line.

JULIE HYMAN: I'm not sure I agree with your takes on the other lack of innovation. I think the Szechuan sauce is a popular item at McDonald's.

BRIAN SOZZI: I didn't expect that coming from you. I can't believe it.

JULIE HYMAN: No, listen.


JULIE HYMAN: I am not going to McDonald's.

BRIAN SOZZI: I can't. I can't.

JULIE HYMAN: But I think people were excited about that Szechuan sauce. That said, it is-- it continues to be remarkable to me at these fast food places the drivers of these individual popular items, right? The McRib or whatever, what have you. And so will people make special trips to Taco Bell now that the Mexican pizza is back?

BRIAN SOZZI: Well, you and me, we will make a trip. But you know what? Since you're so jazzed up about innovation-- I didn't expect that from you-- McDonald's recently started testing automated people at the drive-thru, meaning no people. So you drive up to your drive-thru, and I'm actually talking to a robot, who I place my order with, which is very, very fascinating. That's a look at the future. Not good for McDonald's employees, but as a user who goes in the drive-thru, I mean, I dig it.

JULIE HYMAN: That's fascinating to me. Does the robot sound like a robot, or does it sound like a person?

BRIAN SOZZI: It sounds like a person.

JULIE HYMAN: So would you even know that you are talking--

BRIAN SOZZI: No, and that is the point. But, you know, who would know? McDonald's corporate, who's going to probably save a couple of bucks on their bottom line.

JULIE HYMAN: Yeah, I wonder how much that technology costs.

BRIAN SOZZI: I'll get you a pizza.

JULIE HYMAN: Yes. All right, and there's a look at how some of those restaurant stocks are trading in today's session. We've got an increase in those stocks. Everybody running for their Mexican pizzas, I guess.