New York (CNN Business) Taco Bell's highly anticipated Mexican Pizza finally returns to menus Thursday following a roughly two-year hiatus.
The beloved menu item was eliminated in November 2020 as part of a broader culling of Taco Bell's menu during the height of the pandemic. That helped Taco Bell shed complexities and costs. But now, the $4.49 menu item is back -- permanently -- after fans demanded it.
The Mexican Pizza consists of a tortilla shell filled pizza sauce and either beans or ground beef. It's topped with another tortilla shell that's smothered with more sauce, cheese and chopped tomatoes. Taco Bell introduced the item in 1985 and originally called it the "Pizzazz Pizza."
Removing the Mexican Pizza sparked outrage among Taco Bell's loyal fans: An online petition asking for the pizza's return garnered nearly 200,000 signatures. Particularly outraged were vegetarians who saw the menu item as one of the few "fun" meatless options.
In its return, Taco Bell improved the pizza's packaging. The Mexican Pizza had sent more than 7 million pounds of paperboard into landfills each year, the company said. This time around, Taco Bell "worked to streamline operations and ingredient sourcing, and leave a lighter footprint at the same time," the company said in a statement.
To drum up excitement for the pizza, the chain enlisted Dolly Parton and Doja Cat to make a musical set to stream on TikTok on May 26.
Fast-food chains must constantly compete for customers' dollars and attention, and specialty offerings are a way to try to cut through the noise. Taco Bell, in particular, regularly experiments with its menu by adding limited-time offers to stimulate customer interest.
The brand is a strong performer for its parent company, Yum! Brands (. It reported same-store sales growth of 5%, beating expectations, in its most recent earnings report. )