Everyone’s probably eaten at Taco Bell, but did you know the “Bell” came from the founder’s name, Glenn Bell? He pioneered the sale of crunchy tacos to the world over 50 years ago. The first Taco Bell opened March 21, 1962.
Taco Bell Begins
Glenn, a 23-year-old former Marine, arrived in San Bernadino, California, just after World War II. He opened a one man hot dog stand, but was interested in mexican food. He wanted a quick way to grab Mexican food on the go.
He first started selling hot dogs paired with a sauce that would later become Taco Bell’s hot sauce. Soon, he experimented with ways to prepare tacos quickly and efficiently. He also had the novel idea of frying the taco shells ahead of time. Later, food manufacturers picked up his idea for commercially fried taco shells.
Originally, tacos sold for 19 cents.
“I’ll never forget the first taco customer because naturally, I was really concerned about his reaction. He was dressed in a suit, and as he bit into the taco the juice ran down his sleeve and dripped on his tie. I thought, ‘We’ve lost this one,’ but he came back, amazingly enough, and said, ‘That was good, I’ll take another one!’”
Business picked up, and Bell opened a second stand and hired Ed Hackbarth, who later became the founder of “Del Taco!” Hot dogs were abandoned for a more taco-focused menu. He opened three Taco-Tias, and later sold them to his partners. He finally opened the first Taco Bell in Downey, California, on March 21, 1962.
By 1975, Bell made a deal with PepsiCo, selling them his controlling shares of Taco Bell.
PepsiCo opened its first international Taco Bell in Guam in 1977. Taco Bell would later be sold to Yum! Brands, a fortune 500 company that also owns Pizza Hut, KFC, and WingStreet (among other brands).