Having lived with Taco Bell my entire life, finding out the place was named for founder Glen W. Bell seems kind of funny.
But it’s true- Taco Bell, the nationwide chain purveyor of cheap and cheesy Chalupas and Meximelts, was the brainchild of a man named Bell. After starting out with burgers and hot dogs, Bell decided to switch the game up with tacos and drive-through service:
“Bell’s Drive-In first served a menu with hamburgers and hot dogs to its customers,” the company writes. “However, Bell soon decided to differentiate his menu by adding Mexican fare. He quickly realized the need to develop a convenient way to serve items such as tacos in a take-out environment. He also began experimenting with a drive-thru concept. Once he perfected his taco shell recipe, taco sauces and the convenient drive-thru concept, he was ready to introduce the tastes and textures of Mexican food to mainstream America.”
Indeed, if Ray Kroc introduced fast food to America, Bell certainly mexified it. The now ubiquitous chain still floats alone in a sea of burger-and-fries options in the drive-thruscape. Bell didn’t stop there with his innovating, and is also responsible for the less widespread but still popular chain of Wienerschnitzel restaurants. Bell also helped found California-area chains El Taco and Taco Tias after spawning Taco Bell.
Bell sold his namesake Taco Bells, numbering 868 at the time, to Pepsi in 1978. There are now more than 5,000 Taco Bell locations in the US. Bell is survived by a wife, Martha, and two sons.