The founder of Taco Bell, Glen Bell, started with a hot dog stand in San Bernardino, California in 1946. After experimenting with alternative food items, he opened three Taco-Tia (named after his daughter) stands between 1954 and 1955, which he later sold to his partners. He then opened the first Taco Bell in Downey, California on March 21, 1962.
The first Taco Bell franchise was sold in 1964 and the company went public in 1969. In 1978, Bell sold the chain to PepsiCo. The chain was spun off along with Pepsi’s other fast food restaurant holdings as Tricon Global Restaurants in October 1997. Tricon became Yum! Brands, Inc. in May 2002.
The old Taco Bell logo was used from 1969 to 1999. In the early-1990s, Taco Bell changed its menu due to pressure concerning the nutritional value of items labeled “Lite”. It was believed the term lite was vague or possibly deceptive. Many of the items were dropped entirely from the menu; one such item was the “Taco Lite”, a fried flour tortilla shell with lean beef, fat free sour cream, lettuce, reduced fat cheese and tomatoes. Some items were altered to change the nutritional values, such as the removal of black olives from the list of ingredients, in an effort to reduce sodium.
In early-1995, Taco Bell transformed the familiar rainbow logo, in favor of a simpler pink/purple combo logo in an effort to revitalize their almost 20 year old logo.
On April 1, 1996, Taco Bell took out a full-page advertisement in The New York Times announcing that they had purchased the Liberty Bell to “reduce the country’s debt” and renamed it to “the Taco Liberty Bell.” Thousands of people who did not immediately get the April Fool’s Day hoax protested.
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