Enter the Recombinator

Breakthrough innovations seem to happen suddenly and all at once. We adjust to the status quo, lament our devices’ shortcomings and take for granted the amazing things they do. Then, something totally new arrives, changes everything, and the cycle refreshes. WiFi, smartphones, HDTV, the Triple-Double Crunchwrap — the world waits for things it doesn’t know it needs and then never looks back.

At Particle, it’s our job to take that status quo and figure out how to make it better. Most of the time we’re working on new technologies and digital experiences, but periodically inspiration strikes in other spaces. Like fast food.

It was February when the idea came to us. In February, in Portland, Oregon, life can feel repetitive. It’s wet again. Rain jacket again. At Taco Bell again. A Crunchwrap Supreme again. Why does everything on the menu feel so familiar? Why does it take so long to discover new combinations made from the same basic ingredients? How can we, as a product design agency, accelerate the pace of taco and taco-related innovation?

Enter the Recombinator. The Recombinator takes a list of 50 Taco Bell ingredients (including breakfast items, of course), and uses them to randomly generate a new menu item. The smallest items consist of a single ingredient, the largest pile on 9. That’s about 12,565,671,221* possible combinations. It’s a lot of tacos.

The Recombinator also generates a name for each item using Taco Bell’s naming conventions as inspiration, and a few liberties to keep the names effectively recombinated. Some of the resulting names might be difficult to order at the drive-thru, but we think they’re more fun to share with the world.

So enter the Recombinator. Find your new favorite combo. Share it with fellow taco lovers. And who knows, you might be the one to discover the next great taco breakthrough.

*Note: If Taco Bell made one item from the Recombinator every second of every day, it would take about 398 years to get through all the possible combos. Let’s get started!

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