Taco Bell Welcomes Back Nacho Fries With Secret Aardvark Collab

Nacho Fries, one of Taco Bell's most popular — and elusive — menu items, are returning with a new condiment. The fast food company has announced a partnership with Secret Aardvark, a Portland-based hot sauce brand, to ring in the latest offering of the seasoned spuds with a specially developed Serrabanero Ranch sauce, touted to be a zesty blend of classic ranch sauce, green tomatoes, roasted tomatillos serrano, and green habanero peppers for some kick.

In addition to the new ranch sauce, the $4.99 Secret Aardvark Nacho Fries will come loaded with slow-roasted chicken, a three-cheese blend, reduced-fat sour cream, nacho cheese sauce, and pico de gallo. Per a press release, the latest iteration of the dish will hit Taco Bell restaurants nationwide on April 25 and be available through the summer, making it the dish's longest run on menus to date.

This isn't the first time the Mexican spice-seasoned potatoes have been given a tasty twist in collaboration with a buzzy condiment brand. In the fall of 2022, Taco Bell teamed up with Truff to introduce spicy truffle Nacho Fries while in the spring of 2023, the chain collabed with Yellowbird hot sauce to debut Nacho Fries with a Spicy Habanero Ranch sauce. Last fall, Taco Bell also released a "grilled cheese" version of the dish that was smothered in a melty blend of mozzarella, Monterey pepper jack, and cheddar. Safe to say, the latest release follows the tradition of creative flavor combos.

Nacho Fries' elusiveness has made them a success

While plenty of fans of the Taco Bell dish may bemoan its frequent comings and goings, the limited-release model of the Nacho Fries has proven to be lucrative. When the menu item debuted at Taco Bell locations in 2018 as a limited-time offering, it soon snowballed into the most successful product launch in the company's history. Between January and March of that year, Taco Bell reported more than 53 million orders of the Nacho Fries, prompting the chain to extend the item's availability for another month (via CNBC).

Since then, the Nacho Fries have disappeared and reappeared from the menu 10 times, with this latest release marking the dish's 11th return. Similar to McDonald's McRib sandwich or Shake Shack's Hot Chicken sandwich, the fleeting nature of Taco Bell's seasoned fries, and its various loaded iterations, is exactly what allows it to create continued buzz whenever it makes a comeback. In addition to inspiring a cult following of the dish among consumers, the elusiveness of the dish plays a key role from a marketing perspective. 

As Alexander Chernev, a professor of marketing at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, explained to CNN, "When you have these exclusive products, which exist for a short period of time, it gives people a reason to come to the store." Driving interest drives sales, and in the case of Taco Bell's Nacho Fries, the ploy seems to be satisfying the cravings of both the company and its customers.