Yum! Brands' (NYSE: YUM) Taco Bell chain has pushed its business forward in recent years by steadily introducing new dishes.

In some cases, that has involved some pretty ridiculous attempts to get attention. In others, it has produced menu items that fit well into the Mexican fast-food chain's lineup, and that aren't quite so outrageous. Of course, there are cases for both techniques working. The Doritos Locos Taco went from novelty to mega-success, and a number of regular menu items came from the company's innovation efforts.

Its latest new item, the Naked Chicken Chalupa, counts as smart innovation, not a gimmick -- even though it's certainly has a bit of a gimmicky angle. The dish spent two years in testing and development ahead of its planned national roll out on Jan. 26.

What is a Naked Chicken Chalupa?

It's a taco where the "shell" is made from fried, marinated all-white meat crispy chicken. Each shell contains four ounces of white meat chicken flavored with Mexican spices and seasoning. Inside, it contains shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, cheddar cheese and creamy avocado ranch, according to a press release.

"Something this delicious yet different is bound to ruffle some feathers; some might even cluck their tongues at it," said Taco Bell Chief Marketing Officer Marisa Thalberg. "However, we feel confident that once our fans get a taste of the Naked Chicken Chalupa they are going to understand exactly why this is our next big, fun and craveable innovation, following in the footsteps of the Doritos Locos Tacos five years ago and the Quesalupa just last year."

The new Naked Chicken Chalupa costs $2.99. It will also be sold in a $5 Box with a Doritos Locos Taco, a Crunchy Taco and a medium drink.

This is a smart idea

Unlike some products which are rushed to market, Taco Bell took the time to test its latest offering extensively. This unique twist on a taco should be an attention-getter, but it also should resonate with customers, based on the positive reactions it received during the testing period.

Taco Bell needs a steady flow of new products to keep its casual audience engaged. This one is unique, but familiar in a way that should encourage sampling.

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Daniel Kline has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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