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NEW YORK (AP) - Taco Bell fans can finally mark their calendars: Doritos Locos Tacos in Cool Ranch flavor will be launched March 7.

The chain is rolling out the new variety a year after the Doritos Locos Tacos were launched in a Nacho Cheese flavor. Taco Bell says it already sold more than 350 million of finger-staining tacos, making them the biggest ever product launch.

CEO Greg Creed has told the Associated Press that Doritos Locos Tacos now account for about a quarter of all taco sales. Creed says he plans to keep introducing new Doritos flavors as well. Next up is a "Flamas" flavor, a Doritos variety sold in select regions of the country with higher Hispanic populations.

The tacos have helped Taco Bell stage a comeback after a lawsuit in 2011 alleging its beef shouldn't be labeled as such because of its other ingredients. The suit was later dropped.

Taco Bell had originally planned to release the Cool Ranch variety last year. But the chain says it postponed the launch after the Nacho Cheese flavor got such a strong response. Speculation had been building online over when the Cool Ranch variety would come out. Taco Bell made the announcement Wednesday on social media sites Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

The chain says it will support the launch of Cool Ranch tacos with its biggest ever marketing campaign.

Creed said Nacho Cheese was chosen as the first variety last year because it's the most popular Doritos flavor, while Cool Ranch is second-most popular.

Creed said Frito-Lay, which is owned by PepsiCo Inc., had to build special equipment to make the taco shells, which use a special formula to make them crunchier and are dusted with Doritos flavoring. He noted that the advantage of Doritos Locos Tacos is also that it's a proprietary brand; competitors can't respond because there are no other corn chips that are so widely known.

Taco Bell is owned by Yum Brands Inc., which also owns KFC and Pizza Hut.


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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