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Taco Bell mashes things up in search of new hit

What do you get when you cross a burrito with a quesadilla? Millions of customers, if Taco Bell has anything to say about it.

The fast-food chain on Monday unveiled the Quesarito, a burrito wrapped in a quesadilla. It's a permanent addition to the menu, one that executives hope will work some new magic after the Doritos Locos Tacos phenomenon revived the business.

"We're constantly hearing stories about two great things coming together to create something extraordinary and that takes on a life of its own," said Chris Brandt, chief marketing officer for the chain, in a statement announcing the new item. "We have just that with the Quesarito."

The Quesarito is available with a beef, shredded chicken or steak burrito. It includes rice, chipotle sauce and reduced-fat sour cream, and is wrapped with a grilled cheese quesadilla. It clocks in at between 620 and 650 calories, depending on the meat inside, and costs between $1.99 and $2.99.

With the Quesarito, Taco Bell is once again lifting a page from Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG). The upscale rival has its own version of the Quesarito, but it's on a secret menu that most customers don't now about, and Chipotle hasn't announced any plans to take it mainstream.

Taco Bell began testing the Quesarito earlier this year in Oklahoma City, and said it became its best-selling product in a test market since Doritos Locos Tacos. Those tacos, in a Doritos shell, singlehandedly reinvigorated Taco Bell's flagging business and turned the chain into a star at Yum Brands (YUM), which also owns KFC and Pizza Hut.

So how does the Quesarito taste? If you ask the Taco Bell diehards who made a point to get one on launch day, you'd hear some very good things. "Eating the Quesarito from Taco Bell has taught me what true love feels like," wrote one Twitter user. "Is this what heaven tastes like?" asked another. "My life is changed forever," chimed another.

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