One Saturday morning in January 2013, Heather Mottershaw was at home scrolling through status updates on Facebook when a photo caught her eye. A friend had uploaded a picture of his soon-to-be-devoured meal at a restaurant, which Mottershaw describes as a folded-over waffle sandwich filled with eggs and avocados and other fixings you’d expect in a Southern California meal. “I went, huh, that’s an interesting idea,” she says.
Mottershaw, director for product development at Taco Bell, ran out and picked up a box of generic waffles and started to ponder what to do with the sweet, grid-marked cakes. “I brought the waffles in Monday morning at 7 a.m. and just started playing with them in the kitchen,” she recalls. By taking the frozen waffle, leaving it to thaw at room temperature, folding it, and flash frying it in Taco Bell’s chalupa baskets, she ended up with a crispy waffle in the shape of a taco shell. By 9 a.m. it was stuffed with eggs, sausage, and cheese and being evaluated by executives at Taco Bell’s Irvine (Calif.) headquarters. “As soon as the team started to see it,” she says, “there was this instant excitement, this buzz that this is a cool idea, this is a big idea.”