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Cronuts, ramen burgers, and waffle tacos: The evolution of the food mash-up

Food mash-ups have a long, delicious history that predates the latest culinary sensations

With foodies still swooning over the cronut, many imitators are now trying their best to create their own equally delicious snack-food hybrids.

We're not just talking about the Dunkin' Donuts cronut knockoff, but rather all the combination concoctions that food companies have been rolling out to a salivating pubic, hungry for more gimmicky, greasy treats.

This week, Taco Bell announced that it would start widely selling its new waffle tacos after initial taste tests garnered rave reviews. The waffle taco, as the name suggests, is a waffle curled into a taco shape and then stuffed with breakfast food.

That a product comprised of two standalone foods slapped together would sell like hot cakes should come as no surprise. Companies have been turning two meals into one for years, with great success.

Taco Bell's waffle offering comes on the heels of the hugely popular Doritos Locos Taco, a product that simply replaced plain corn shells with flavored, branded corn shells. An aggressive marketing campaign promoting that creation as a breakthrough in faux Mexican fast food proved so successful that Taco Bell has since debuted new shell flavors that, like the original, are simply oversized Doritos stuffed with taco filling.

The latest offering, the Flamas Doritos Locos Taco, has it's own promotional hashtag, and was newsworthy enough to warrant breathless early reviews.

It's not just multinational corporations getting in on the game. A New York chef recently debuted the Ramen Burger — meat between two piles of fried noodles — while a Chicago eatery started selling an ice cream sandwich held together by doughnuts.

The recent trend toward food pairings reminiscent of what intoxicated college students dream up in their smoke-filled dorms is actually a tried-and-true practice in the food industry.

Remember a few years back when KFC unleashed the Double Down, which was comprised of meat stuffed between more meat and covered in sauce?

Denny's has the Fried Cheese Melt (mozzarella sticks stuffed in a sandwich); Friendly's has the Grilled Cheese BurgerMelt (a burger tucked between two — two! — whole grilled cheese sandwiches); and Dunkin' Donuts has a Glazed Doughnut Breakfast Sandwich (plain glazed doughnuts cradling meat and eggs).

The list goes on and on.

In perhaps the most famous case of splicing two foods into one, the common waffle cone was conceived when someone simply rolled up a waffle and packed it with ice cream.

Though the cronut is the new flavor of the month, the idea behind it is nothing new. And the cronut, for all its hype, is far from the best food mash-up ever invented.

That honor, of course, goes to Bagel Bites and their timeless jingle.

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