“Cheese. Cheese. Cheese.”

That’s what consumer test panelists kept telling the Taco Bell Food and Beverage Innovation Team as it tested the new product. That new product went on to become the Crunchy Cheesy Core Burrito and the Spicy Cheesy Core Burrito.

“The Cheesy Core Burrito is Mike’s baby,” explained Taco Bell’s Steven Gomez when discussing the Crunchy Cheesy Core Burrito and the Spicy Cheesy Core Burrito. The Mike he is referring to is Mike Ciresi, a dairy scientist who works at Taco Bell in partnership with Dairy Management Inc. and the national dairy checkoff funded by the nation’s dairy farmers.

“Mike really expanded on this idea,” explained Gomez.

“We have this DMI dairy scientist here and he really exploded on ideas of how to bring this product to life,” added Heather Mottershaw, senior director on Taco Bell’s Food and Beverage Innovation team. “Mike built this product around cheese and dairy. The combination takes the product to a whole new level.”

Steven Gomez
“After a great deal of ideation, we created the Crunchy Cheesy Core Burrito and the Spicy Cheesy Core Burrito,” stated Gomez. “If you cut this product in half, it has a ring with a tortilla in the center with the x-factor — either cheese plus crunch or cheese plus spice. So every bite has warm, melted cheese and the x-factor.”

Cheese wasn’t always the focus, however.

“We really knew we had an idea when we went to focus groups,” added Mike Ciresi, a DMI dairy scientist dedicated to Taco Bell. “We tested five or six versions and overwhelmingly it had to be cheese. ‘Cheese. Cheese. Cheese,’ responded the focus groups.”

“That’s a good point,” added Gomez. “We had put other items in the core, but test panels always valued cheese.”

To learn more about Taco Bell’s Crunchy Cheesy Core Burrito and the Spicy Cheesy Core Burrito, listen to audio comments from Taco Bell’s Heather Mottershaw, who has 13 years of expertise with Taco Bell. A note to the listeners, at times there are questions from Hoard’s Dairyman Managing Editor Corey Geiger.

This Hoard’s Dairyman Intel article is part of an eight-part Dairy Food Maker series with Taco Bell. It details a partnership that began with Taco Bell and Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) in 2012 and continues to this day with Dairy Checkoff dairy scientists working directly at Taco Bell’s headquarters in the greater Los Angeles, Calif., area.

Click here to view previous reports from this Taco Bell series:

Cheese glues tortilla shells together

Cheese pull captures consumers

Breakfast is 90 percent dairy

To read more about the Taco Bell experience and the organization’s partnership with dairy farmers, turn to pages 648 and 649 of the October 25 issue of Hoard’s Dairyman for the Food Maker series.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2016
October 31, 2016
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