You’ve probably never heard of the recently deceased Todd Mills, but you’ve definitely heard of the greatest innovation in fast food since the portable diabetes tester: the Doritos Locos Taco. The brilliantly simple idea to combine Taco Bell’s signature Mystery Cow™ product with the powdery Doritos flavor (best described as “salty heroin”) didn’t spring from the mind of a marketing genius wearing khaki pants and earning more than most island nations. Instead, it was Todd Mills, a regular Joe who worked at the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce who cogitated the brilliant notion. Mills started the “Cheesy Shells” Facebook fan group and shared his idea of merging the two brands with Frito-Lay (owners of the Doritos brand) in 2009. He was promptly rejected, but in 2012 was invited to the Frito-Lay test kitchens to try a brand new product – the Doritos Locos taco.
To date, the Doritos Locos tacos have generated more than $1 billion in revenue. Mills never asked for compensation - just seeing his dream come true was apparently enough - but Taco Bell did contribute a whopping $1,000 to help pay for his medical bills (he tragically died of brain cancer). A selfless genius, Mills is what’s truly best in America – a person willing to share his creative genius for nothing more than the satisfaction of finally getting the snack he’d craved his whole life.
We were contacted by a representative from Taco Bell after this story was published. They requested to add the following statement:
“We know this is a tragic time for Todd’s family. He was a huge Taco Bell fan. He was passionate about the Doritos Locos Taco, and although he did not invent it, he founded a Facebook page to drum up support. In light of his passion, we invited him to be one of the first to try it. He became a true friend of the brand, so when we learned of his ill health, we made a $1,000 donation towards his medical expenses. We will miss Todd very much and our hearts are with his family and friends in this difficult time.”
Photos by Photo Courtesy of Facebook.com/cheesyshells