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10 Little-Known Facts About Taco Bell and its Journey to the Top of the Franchise 500 While you might believe you're familiar with everything there is to know about this fast-food giant and its beloved menu, there's always more to discover.

Key Takeaways

  • The brand's founder, Glen Bell, opened the first Taco Bell in 1962.
  • Taco Bell has since grown into a global powerhouse with over 8,300 locations and nearly $16 billion in sales in 2023.
  • Taco Bell's community efforts through the Taco Bell Foundation have awarded over $188 million in scholarships and grants.

Did you know Taco Bell is Entrepreneur's top-ranked franchise in the 2024 Franchise 500 Ranking? With a staggering network of over 8,300 locations worldwide, Taco Bell has become synonymous with quick-service Mexican-style cuisine, raking in nearly $16 billion in sales in 2023 alone.

While you might believe you're familiar with everything there is to know about this fast-food giant and its beloved menu, there's always more to discover. Dive in as we uncover 10 fascinating facts about the number one franchise, revealing the secrets behind its sizzling success.

Related: Considering franchise ownership? Get started now to find your personalized list of franchises that match your lifestyle, interests and budget.

1. It didn't start with tacos.

Taco Bell founder Glen Bell initially focused on selling burgers and hot dogs. Tacos were merely an additional item on his menu. It wasn't until he saw the popularity of tacos that he decided to make them the primary focus. Before establishing Taco Bell, he operated a taco stand called Taco Tia. Eventually, he opened the first Taco Bell restaurant in Downey, California, in 1962, which solely served tacos and other Mexican-inspired dishes. This shift in focus paved the way for Taco Bell to become the iconic brand it is today.

2. The first location did not have indoor seating.

The first Taco Bell was an outdoor hangout with just a walk-up window where customers could order their food. There was no indoor seating; instead, patrons would enjoy their meals outside, making it a casual and social dining experience. This original setup was quite different from the Taco Bell restaurants we know today, which typically include indoor seating, outdoor tables, and drive-thru services.

Related: Yes, You Can Buy a Franchise In a Bad Economy — But First, Ask These 5 Questions

3. The Doritos Locos Tacos added 15,000 jobs.

Featuring a taco shell made from Doritos chips, the Doritos Locos Tacos were extremely popular when they debuted in 2012, and their success contributed to significant job creation at Taco Bell.

The overwhelming demand for these tacos was a major factor in driving increased sales, which in turn necessitated the hiring of more employees to meet customer demand. While it's not solely the Doritos Locos Tacos that caused the surge in employment, they played a substantial role in the overall growth and expansion of the company, leading to the addition of around 15,000 jobs.

4. You can get married at a Taco Bell in Las Vegas.

If you and your partner are loco for Taco Bell, you might consider getting hitched in a Taco Bell. At the Las Vegas Taco Bell Cantina, you can get married and enjoya a 30-minute ceremony in a private chapel within the restaurant, a reception area with Taco Bell food, a sauce packet bouquet for the bride and custom Taco Bell wedding swag.

Related: Find Out Which Brands Have Ranked on the Franchise 500 for Longest, Earning a Spot In our New 'Hall of Fame'

5. Taco Bell Foundation has awarded more than $188 million.

Taco Bell gives back to the community and its employees through the Taco Bell Foundation, focusing on eliminating barriers to education. Since its inception in 1992, the Taco Bell Foundation has awarded over $188 million in scholarships and grants, benefiting more than 5 million young people.

The foundation aims to eliminate barriers to education and empower the next generation of leaders by providing resources and opportunities for personal and professional development. Through programs like the Live Más Scholarship, the foundation helps students achieve their educational and career goals.

6. Taco Bell helps music fans discover new artists.

Taco Bell has a program called Feed The Beat to support up-and-coming artists. Taco Bell believes hard-working artists should not have to worry about food on tour, so artists get awarded $500 Taco Bell gift cards.

In addition to the gift cards, selected artists may also have opportunities to feature their music in Taco Bell commercials or at Taco Bell-sponsored events and concerts. Feed The Beat has been a significant initiative in supporting the music community and helping emerging artists gain exposure.

Related: Why Taco Bell's New Boss Says He's 'Not the Dictionary Definition of a CEO'

7. The Automatic Taco Machine is locked away.

According to Taco Bell lore, the automatic taco-making machine that Taco Bell tried to debut in 1992 is locked away behind many secure doors at Taco Bell HQ. The machine was capable of making 900 tacos an hour, but maybe it was too early in history, or maybe the tacos lacked a human touch, and the machine was retired.

8. Move over Golden Globes, Taco Bell has the Golden Bell.

The top Area Coaches and General Managers at Taco Bell get invited to the Golden Bell. In 2023, the top employees were invited to Hawaii.

Related: How Taco Bell Became the Top Franchise in the World

9. Taco Bell was a pioneer in hiring women managers.

According to the first Director of Operations for Taco Bell, John Gorman, Taco Bell was "the first chain to hire women managers to run the stores." Founder Glen Bell realized there weren't enough good managers to go around — and noticed they were all men. So, Bell hired women managers and never looked back.

10. Taco Bell played an April Fool's Day joke on America.

In a 1996 April Fool's Day marketing stunt, Taco Bell convinced everyone that it purchased the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and renamed it "The Taco Liberty Bell" in an effort to relieve the national debt.

Clarissa Buch Zilberman

Entrepreneur Staff

Freelance Writer, Editor & Content Marketing Consultant

Clarissa Buch Zilberman is a writer and editor based in Miami. Specializing in lifestyle, business, and travel, her work has appeared in Food & Wine, Realtor.com, Travel + Leisure, and Bon Appétit, among other print and digital titles. Through her content marketing consultancy, By Clarissa, she leverages her extensive editorial background and unique industry insights to support enterprise organizations and global creative agencies with their B2B, B2C, and B2E content initiatives. 

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