5 Things You Didn't Know About Taco Bell

Theoretically, Taco Bell could solve the world’s hunger problem. Taco Bell has developed a system that provides the most calories per dollar of any commercial “food” in the world. The only problem with using Taco Bell to solve world hunger, is that the world’s health problem would be significantly exacerbated. In a time where most restaurants are listing calories on the menu and providing healthier alternatives, Taco Bell has been a stalwart in the fight for obesity. Rather than create a healthier menu, Taco Bell, a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, has introduced new tantalizing ways to generate revenue. The Doritos Locos Tacos for example are even worse for one’s health than a regular taco, but the vibrant color (artificial coloring), neat concept (Taco wrapped in Doritos!) and cool name (Doritos Locos Tacos, holy alliteration batman!) have kept the company growing steadily. Here are five things you didn’t know about your favorite late night snack, Taco Bell.

At 23-years-old, Glen Bell opened his first restaurant, which was a hot dog stand in San Bernardino, California called Bell’s Drive-In. After measured success, he quickly sold that business and opened another under the same concept called Taco Tia. He was the first to offer fast food tacos, which were an instant hit. He eventually sold Taco Tia, which offered many fast foods to open Taco Bell in 1962 to focus on what had become his signature product.

Mexicans are not has fond of Taco Bell as Americans. The stereotype around the world is that American’s have poor taste in food, and the rest of the world may have a point. After all, the fast food hamburger is the signature American dish. So while American’s may think Taco Bell is great-tasting “Mexican” food (especially after a night at the bar) all the tequila in Tijuana can’t get Mexican residents to feel that way. Taco Bell tried and failed to enter the Mexican market in both 1992 and 2007. In 2007, they tried to brand it as Americanized Mexican food by adding French fries to the menu (Anyone else see the irony there? Also, please see my point about traditional American food from earlier). Both attempts failed miserably.

Taco Bell and McDonalds have a lot in common, including having the same hometown of Downey, California.  (If you missed it, I wrote about 4 interesting things you didn’t know about McDonald’s here.) The first and oldest Taco Bell built by Glen Bell is still open in its original location, which opened 13 years after the McDonald’s brothers opened their first location near by.

Taco Bell invented the hard shell taco. Another innovation from the fast food industry! Bell realized early on that he would have to reduce the time it took to make a taco if he wanted to have a successful fast food business. Warming then stuffing a tortilla took too long and was too messy, so he got out a deep fryer, bent a tortilla, and created the hard shell. The hard shell has allowed for quicker preparation time and a crunchy alternative to the traditional soft taco. It also allowed for future innovations.

The Doritos Locos Tacos are the most recent innovation of Taco Bell, but it didn’t happen overnight. In fact, it took over three years to create it. What started as a brainstorming session for a co-branded product led to months of testing and product modifications. The most challenging part of creating this menu favorite was matching the texture and flavor of the nacho cheese Doritos chip with the yellow corn taco shell of Taco Bell. It took three years to get it right, but it was well worth it. The Doritos Locos Tacos were first sold in 2012 and are responsible for adding 15,000 jobs to the company. Over 500M of the new product were sold in the first 14 months for over a $1B. Some things are worth waiting for.  

When you stop at Taco Bell on your way home from the bar this weekend, ask the person working the drive through window or the counter if they knew these five interesting things. If not, feel free to enlighten them. I’m sure they’ll appreciate your knowledge of their company.

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