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"Pioneering this change on our menu is a bold move for our industry, and it makes sense for Taco Bell," CEO Greg Creed said in a statement. But the company also noted that kids' meals also don't fit its strategy and have had an "insignificant" impact on sales.
In an interview, Creed said that the meals accounted for less than half of 1 percent of Taco Bell's sales, meaning that getting rid of them is no sacrifice. The chain hasn't dedicated national advertising to kids' items for at least 12 years.
Taco Bell aims to extend the success of its Doritos-flavored tacos, introduced last year, which means it must build its credentials with people in their 20s and 30s. Kids' meals don't fit with that image.
The move is notable because advocacy groups have criticized fast-food chains such as McDonald's for targeting kids in their marketing.
"We're trying to be this millennial, edgy brand, and having [kids' meals] was inconsistent," Creed said.
He said the energy the company had to devote to organizing the category of items throughout the year would be better spent on its core menu.
Taco Bell is owned by Yum Brands, of Louisville, Ky., which also owns KFC and Pizza Hut. KFC offers kids' meals in little buckets, but they don't come with toys.
(Read more: Yum earnings slide as China sales take a hit)
—The Associated Press