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Taco Bell to offer sweets as part of a snacks menu

NEW YORK — Taco Bell wants to become destination for snack-starved younger people, not just a place to get burritos for lunch or dinner.

The Mexican-style chain plans to announce this week an expansion of its sweet treats menu, with the addition of churros and cookie sandwiches to its current lineup of cinnamon twists and caramel apple empanadas. And in coming weeks, it will beef up its offering of savory snacks with the introduction of its ‘‘loaded grillers,’’ which are nachos, chicken, or loaded baked potatoes wrapped in a tortilla.

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There’s a grand scheme behind the new menu additions; by early next year, Taco Bell plans to launch a ‘‘Happier Hour’’ TV ad campaign touting its snack offerings.

Attracting customers to restaurants during those between-meal hours has become a critical way to drive sales, because chains have to pay for fixed costs such as electricity and labor anyway.

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