Taco Bell: A History

Did you know that Taco Bell is named after its founder? His name was Glen Bell, and without him we'd be down one seriously major fast food chain.

The story of Taco Bell begins with, of course, Glen Bell, and a hot dog stand called Bell's Drive-In that he opened in San Bernardino, California in 1946, at age 23. Four years later he opened a hamburger stand called Bell's Hamburgers and Hot Dogs in a Latino neighborhood in San Bernardino, and noticed that a Mexican restaurant across the street called Mitla Cafe attracted long lines for its hard-shelled tacos.

Over the next two years, Bell dined there frequently, attempting to reverse-engineer the hard-shell taco recipe. Eventually, he became good enough friends with the owners that they showed him how they were made. By early 1952, he had opened up a taco stand of his own, which he dubbed Taco-Tia.

The restaurant took off, and over the next few years Bell bought several more taco stands, including four called El Taco. In 1962 he sold off his existing restaurants and opened the very first Taco Bell in Downey, California with a franchise plan. Within two years he'd sold his first franchise, and by 1967 100 Taco Bells were in business. The rest, as they say, is history.