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The Chipotle effect is in full effect. In what we can only assume is a response to the burrito roller’s sweeping popularity, Taco Bell has announced that they are testing a health-conscious “Power Protein” menuNation’s Restaurant News reports that the trials begin on July 25 at an "about 40" locations in Dayton, Ohio. Which begs the question. Are there really 40 Taco Bell locatoins in Dayton, Ohio — population 142,000? Good lord. The official TB website lists fewer. But we're unsure if the total includes the combos. But we digress…

“Millennials are asking for more nutritionally balanced performance options,” says Taco Bell product manager and registered dietician Missy Schaaphok in the article. “Protein definitely skews more toward men, but it’s what our consumers are asking for.”

In a menu design that echoes Chipotle’s proven pick your protein and add carbs with caution model, the test line will feature burritos, as well as lettuce-forward burrito bowls. Healthier add-ins like roasted corn, pico, guacamole and low-calorie sour cream will also be available. The new menu items will ring in at 20 grams of protein and less than 450 calories per serving.

The test, which in an unusual move is being announced to the public in advance, could mark a sea change for a company that has proudly sold over-sized tacos (sometimes wrapped in more oversized tacos while endorsed by over-sized professional athletes) and hard shells engineered from the dust of a popular nacho cheese chip. It also tips to the fact that men of a certain age — that’s some of YOU — are thinking more about what is going into their bodies — including what is ordered at the fast food counter. We applaud this effort and hope the test run in Dayton goes well. And if you live nearby (the Indians are doing pretty OK this year!), let us know if you visit one of the leaner TBs. The trials begin on July 25.


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