9 Surprising Facts About Taco Bell

Posted Mar 18, by Jose Duarte

Well... kinda. The man who founded Taco Bell is a direct descendant of one of the pioneers of forensic science. He was the man that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used as a basis for the character of Sherlock Holmes.

Taco Bell’s founder was Glen William Bell, Jr. Born September 3rd, 1923 in Lynwood, California, he was a marine in World War II and started a hot dog stand called Bell’s Drive-In in 1948. 

Four years later, he built a new stand that sold burgers as well, and soon after tacos were added. Through the 1950’s, his taco business grew until 1962 came along. That year, he opened up Taco Bell. You may remember that Bell died two years ago, on January 16, 2010. 

His ancestor, Joseph Bell, had a very different story. Joseph Bell was born December 2nd, 1837 in Scotland. He was famous for being a professor at the medical school of the University of Edinburgh (and later being the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes). 

Bell often lectured on the importance of close observation, and, like Sherlock, would often pick a stranger and deduce his occupation and recent activities. As a result, he became known as a pioneer in forensic science. 

When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle met Bell in 1877, he was just his clerk at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. So impressed was he by Bell’s skills of observation that he turned Bell into the character we know today. Bell passed away in 1911. Regrettably, neither man lived to see the Dorito Taco. 


Taco Bell is nothing like real Mexican food, which is delicious. Mexicans don’t use ground beef in any of their tacos except one called picadillo and they rarely use chicken. 

Neither is there any such thing as a hard taco shell. The closest thing to a hard taco shell is called a tostada and it is flat and orange and often served with a layer of beans and cheese on it. It isn’t shocking that Taco Bell is a total flop in Mexico. 

They’ve tried t enter the market twice and bombed twice. Other American fast food chains that are popular are McDonalds, Dominos Pizza, and Carls Jr. Starbucks is HUGE in Mexico and Krispy Kreme is on the rise. 

Taco Bell was founded in 1962 in California by Glen Bell. By 1967 they had opened their 100th store. They tried to plant themselves in Australia in 1981. A few stores opened, but by 2005 the Taco Bell brand was yanked from the country. In 1981 they also began planting themselves in Canada. However, their Canadian owner, Priszm, went bankrupt in 2011 and the stores folded. 


fIn “Demolition Man”, Sylvester Stallone and Sandra Bullock discuss how in a post-apocalyptic future, only one fast food chain has survived the “fast food wars”; Taco Bell. 

While the accuracy of that prediction has yet to be proven, the movie did succeed in predicting (or rather controlling), the change of Taco Bell’s logo. When the movie was released in 1993, it didn’t feature the classic brown/red/green colored logo that can be seen in some ancient branches of the franchise, it featured the now dominant pink and purple logo. 

Maybe this change in logo was Taco Bell’s first move in fulfilling the film’s prediction. So far, Taco Bell has had fair success internationally. But in order to achieve world domination it needs to win over the one country it’s been laughed out of; Mexico. 


The Mir Space Station was a Russian (initially Soviet) spacecraft launched in 1986. It was originally only meant to stay for five years, but remained in space until 2001, when interest in its funding ceased. 

As the final part of its decommissioning, the Mir space station was to burn up during reentry into the atmosphere. It was to land over the Pacific Ocean, which Taco Bell identified as an excellent opportunity for advertising. Taco Bell brought a 40 by 40 foot target with a bell bull’s eye in the middle out into the Pacific Ocean. 

In the middle was large purple writing, stating “Free Taco Here.” It was left out off the coast of Australia. Taco Bell was prepared with a large insurance policy to cover the cost of so much free food, but ultimately Mir did not hit the target and the people of the United States went home without free tacos. 


\"\" The oldest Taco Bell and McDonald’s are located in the same town!

Glen Bell founded his original Taco Bell in Downey, CA in 1962. Coincidentally, the town is also home to the oldest surviving McDonald’s restaurant! Built in 1953, this Mickey D’s was actually the third to ever be opened, but it managed to survive longer than the first two. Because of low sales volumes, the lack of a drive-thru window, no indoor seating, and damage from an earthquake, the restaurant was temporarily closed in 1994. However, the public demanded this historic McDonald’s be saved, so the McDonald’s corporation spent two years restoring it!
(The oldest Mcdonalds that is still working and the first ever Taco Bell are located at Downey California\">source)

Taco Bell's taco meat is only 36% beef.

The list of ingredients for the Taco Bell's "beef" include water, soy lecithin, an anti-dusting agent, and 'natural smoke flavor.' An Alabama law firm is seeing a class action lawsuit against the restaurant franchise, claiming that Taco Bell should not be allowed to call their mixture "beef" at all! According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, ground beef is defined as 'chopped flesh and/or frozen beef with or without seasoning and without the addition of beef fat as such, shall not contain added water, phosphates, binders, or extenders.' We're pretty sure the Bell's concoction contains more than a few of these if almost ? of it ISN'T meat.

Although this recipe is undeniably gross, the issue here is not that they are selling fake beef - it is that they are selling fake beef and CALLING it beef. The Alabama law firm is not seeking any money; they would just like for Taco Bell to man up and call their meat what it is. The only trouble is that the USDA states that any food labeled as "meat taco filling" must be at least 40% beef! If this lawsuit is successful, it looks as though T.B. will either have to add more beef or come up with an even more questionable label for their product.

Do you wan to know what\'s REALLY in the Taco Bell meat?
McDonald's ketchup or Taco Bell hot sauce can be used to clean dirty pennies.

I know what you're saying..."the hot sauce seems reasonable...but ketchup? Really??" And yes, I probably would have agreed with you before doing this research. But it's true - both ketchup and hot sauce can be used to polish up your copper cents! These condiments do not necessarily need to be from McDonald's or Taco Bell, however. In fact, they don't even need to contain tomatoes or spices! The secret to the cleansing power of these flavorings is actually far simpler than you'd think. All you need is some vinegar and common table salt! The combination of salt and vinegar allows the copper oxide on a penny to be broken down and converted into copper chloride, or in simpler terms, the penny gets cleaned.

For all you science whizzes who'd like to know the chemistry behind this sort of reaction, read more here.
Update: Taco Bell says their meat is 88% beef.

In response to allegations made last week, Taco Bell is running an ad campaign to 'set the record straight.' The ads are entitled 'Thanks for suing us,' and go into detail describing the Bell's not-so-secret formula:

"We start with USDA-inspected quality beef (88%). Then add water to keep it juicy and moist (3%). Mix in Mexican spices and flavors, including salt, chili pepper, onion powder, tomato powder, sugar, garlic powder, and cocoa powder (4%). Combine a little oats, caramelized sugar, yeast, citric acid, and other ingredients that contribute to the flavor, moisture, consistency, and quality of our seasoned beef (5%)."

It's good to know the beef percentage isn't likely to be as low as originally alleged; however, keep in mind that this is damage control. Taco Bell's fare is probably no worse than most fast food out there, but the important thing to remember is that it IS fast food. No one said it had to be healthy, just quick. If you REALLY want to know what's going into your food, learn to cook it yourself...or marry someone who will do it for you.

See the Taco Bell response ad here.


Taco Bell’s founder was actually named Bell.

Glen W. Bell Jr. died just last year. The entrepreneur’s franchise actually began as a hamburger stand, Bell’s Hamburgers and Hot Dogs in San Bernadino, CA. He moved into the taco business when he decided to sell tacos from his hamburger stand. Though it may be hard to believe, many of his customers (this was back in the 1950s) had never had a taco before! Bell himself had been familiar with tacos for a while; his first burger stand was opened in a Hispanic neighborhood.

Bell’s tacos offered an alternative to the standard fast-food fare, which in 1951 consisted of burgers, hot dogs, fries and shakes. He also popularized the hard shell taco, because he found that the soft shell tacos available in Mexican restaurants took too long to make.

After his success with the hamburger stand Bell experimented with different taco-themed restaurants, with names like Taco Tia, and El Taco, and ultimately in 1962 he went with Taco Bell. Bell sold Taco Bell to PepsiCo in 1978, which also owned KFC and Pizza Hut. Pepsi’s fast food franchises split off into their own company, which we now know as Yum! Brands.

To read more about Glen Bell, founder of Taco Bell, check out his obituary.

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