Taco Bell is an American-based chain of fast food restaurants originating in Irvine, California in 1962, by founder Glen Bell. Taco Bell is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc. The restaurants serve a variety of Mexican-inspired foods, that include: tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, novelty and specialty items, along with a variety of "value menu" items. As of 2018[update], Taco Bell serves over two billion customers each year, at 7,072 restaurants, more than 93 percent of which are owned and operated by independent franchisees and licensees.
,PepsiCo purchased Taco Bell in 1978, and later spun off its restaurants division as Tricon Global Restaurants, which later changed its name to Yum! Brands.
,Taco Bell was founded by Glen Bell, an entrepreneur who first opened a hot dog stand called Bell's Drive-In in San Bernardino, California in 1948. Bell watched long lines of customers at a Mexican restaurant called the Mitla Cafe, located across the street, which became famous among residents for its hard-shelled tacos. Bell attempted to reverse-engineer the recipe, and eventually the owners allowed him to see how the tacos were made. He took what he had learned and opened a new stand in 1951. The name underwent several changes, from Taco-Tia through El Taco, before settling on Taco Bell.
,Glen Bell opened the first Taco Bell in 1962 in Downey, California.
,In 1964, the first franchisee opened, in Torrance, CA. In 1967, the 100th restaurant opened at 400 South Brookhurst in Anaheim. The first location east of the Mississippi River opened in Springfield, Ohio in 1968. Original Taco Bells featured walk-up windows only, with no indoor seating or drive-thru service. In 1970, Taco Bell went public with 325 restaurants.
,In 1978, PepsiCo purchased Taco Bell from Glen Bell. On November 19, 2015, the original Taco Bell building in Downey was moved to the Taco Bell Corporate Headquarters in Irvine, California. 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.
,In 1997, PepsiCo experimented with a new "fresh grill" concept, opening at least one Border Bell restaurant in Mountain View, California on El Camino Real. Close to the time that PepsiCo spun off its restaurant business in 1997, the Border Bell in Mountain View was closed and converted to a Taco Bell restaurant which was still open in 2018.
,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. 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.
,PepsiCo spun out Taco Bell and its other restaurant chains in late 1997 in Tricon Global Restaurants. With the purchase of Yorkshire Global Restaurants, the owners of A&W and Long John Silver's chains, Tricon changed its name to Yum! Brands on May 16, 2002.
,In March 2005, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers won a landmark victory in its national boycott of Taco Bell for human rights. Taco Bell agreed to meet all the coalition's demands to improve wages and working conditions for Florida tomato pickers in its supply chain. After four years of boycott, Taco Bell and Yum! Brands agreed to make an agreement called the CIW-Yum agreement with representatives of CIW at Yum! Brands headquarters.