Taco Bell is a fast-food restaurant chain.
It is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc.
Today, there are more than 7,400 Taco Bell locations across 30 countries.
According to Taco Bell’s website, Glen Bell originally created Bell’s Drive-In and Taco Tia in San Bernardino, California, in 1954. It wasn’t until 1962 when the name was changed to “Taco Bell” after Bell opened a restaurant in Downey, California. His customers specifically referred to the food as “tay-kohs.” The restaurant was then franchised in 1964, and it only took three years to open 100 more. Three years after that, Taco Bell went public with a whopping 325 restaurants. What was once a tiny drive-in restaurant has become astaple fast-food chain, and is even considered one of the healthiest fast food chains.
In 1978 PepsiCo Inc. purchased 868 Taco Bell restaurants for about $125 million. It was this sale that began Taco Bell’s shift from a regional hit to a national sensation.
Several locations in the Midwestern United States were converted from Zantigo, a Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Mexican chain which PepsiCo acquired in 1986.
In 1990, the Hot ‘n Now chain was acquired. Taco Bell sold Hot ‘n Now to a Connecticut company in 1997.
In 1991, Taco Bell opened the first Taco Bell Express in San Francisco. Taco Bell Express locations operate primarily inside convenience stores, truck stops, shopping malls, and airports. Taco Bell began co-branding with KFC in 1995 when the first such co-brand opened in Clayton, North Carolina. The chain has since co-branded with Pizza Hut and Long John Silver’s as well.
Taco Bell has been resent in Canada since 1981, with the first store opening in Windsor, Ontario.
Taco Bell once operated shops in Tokyo and Nagoya in the 1980s but withdrew several years later. Since then, there were shops only at United States Forces Japan bases. In 2015, Taco Bell returned to the Japanese market with a new shop in the downtown area of Shibuya, Tokyo. It had “Taco rice” and “Shrimp and avocado burrito” on its original menu.
The United Kingdom was the first European country with a Taco Bell. In 1986, a location was opened in London on Coventry Street (between Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus) followed by a second location in Earl’s Court near the Earl’s Court tube station.
In the early 1990s, PepsiCo opened several Taco Bell locations inside the Moscow metro system, including Metro Park Kulturi and Metro Komsomolskaya.
Spain is the most important market for Taco Bell in Europe. There are 67 Taco Bell branches by late 2019, more than twice than in 2017 when Taco Bell had 32 branches in Spain.
In 2003, Taco Bell entered the Chinese market by opening a restaurant in the Shanghai People’s Square, named “Taco Bell Grande”.
A Taco Bell opened in the United Arab Emirates in November 2008 in Dubai at the Dubai Mall.
The menu has gone through some changes over the years. The original restaurant served up crunchy tacos along with something called the chiliburger, but the restaurant’s offerings evolved over the years to include beloved discontinued Taco Bell menu items like the Enchirito, Extreme Nachos, and the probably best forgotten Seafood Salad.
Since 2000, Taco Bell has continued to find distinctive ways to brand and partner in order to attract customers. In 2001, for instance, the company promised a free taco to everyone in the United States if Mir, a Soviet space station, hit a target placed by the company in the Pacific Ocean. In 2004 the company partnered with Mountain Dew soda and released Mountain Dew Baja Blast, which, for some time, could only be purchased at Taco Bell. A similar promotion began in 2012 in a partnership with Frito Lay; the result, Doritos Locos Tacos, saw considerable success.
In September 2000, up to $50 million worth of Taco Bell-branded shells were recalled from supermarkets. The shells contained a variety of genetically modified corn called StarLink that was not approved for human consumption. StarLink was approved only for use in animal feed because of questions about whether it can cause allergic reactions in people. It was the first-ever recall of genetically modified food (GMO). Corn was not segregated at grain elevators and the miller in Texas did not order that type. In 2001, Tricon Global announced a $60 million settlement with the suppliers. They stated that it would go to Taco Bell franchisees and TGR would not take any of it.