Taco Bell, the well-known fast-food chain, has a history that is as colorful as its menu. With its signature concoctions and quirky marketing strategies, the brand has carved a niche for itself in the food industry. Here, we unravel seven fascinating facts about Taco Bell that reveal its adventurous experiments, bold initiatives, and unexpected origins.
1. Sweet Experimentation in Wisconsin
In 2017, Taco Bell intrigued the sweet tooth of its customers by test marketing the “Kit Kat Chocoladilla” in select Wisconsin locations. This unique dish boasted of melted Kit Kat pieces enveloped in a grilled and folded tortilla, marking the brand’s venture into dessert territory.
2. The Taco Liberty Bell Prank
Creating quite the stir on April 1st, 1996, Taco Bell announced they had acquired the Liberty Bell, subsequently renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. This audacious prank sparked public outrage, simultaneously causing a significant spike in the sales of Taco Bell.
3. Chihuahua Mascot Controversy
Taco Bell found itself embroiled in a legal skirmish when it failed to compensate two Michigan men responsible for creating the famous Taco Bell Chihuahua mascot. The court eventually ordered the fast-food giant to pay a whopping $42 million in restitution.
4. Origins and Culinary Evolution
Taco Bell derived its name from its founder, Glen Bell, who initiated his journey by serving tacos at his first restaurant, Bell’s Hamburgers. He was inspired by observing the popularity of a local Mexican restaurant and, after successfully reverse-engineering their taco recipe, launched a stand exclusively selling tacos. The creation of the iconic Doritos Loco taco exemplifies Taco Bell’s innovative spirit, involving two years of culinary experiments and 40 different recipes. This creation not only became a sensation but also played a pivotal role in Taco Bell’s growth, enabling it to surpass giants like Pizza Hut, KFC, and even McDonald’s.
5. Astronomical Taco Giveaway
In a cosmic marketing move in 2001, Taco Bell promised to give away one free taco to every US citizen if the core of the Soviet Mir space station hit a Taco Bell target floating in the South Pacific Ocean. The target, bearing a bold “Free Taco Here” message along with the Taco Bell logo, showcased the brand’s penchant for out-of-the-box advertising.
6. Helicopter Taco Delivery in Alaska
When pranksters in Bethel, Alaska spread false rumors of a new Taco Bell opening, the disappointed residents were in for a surprise. To make amends, Taco Bell helicoptered in a truck laden with 10,000 tacos, providing an unexpected feast for the thrilled crowd.
7. Space-Grade Tortillas
In a collaboration that was out of this world, NASA utilized Taco Bell tortillas for their space missions, as traditional bread proved too crumbly. Taco Bell rose to the occasion in the 90s by crafting a tortilla with a nine-month shelf life, making it the preferred choice for astronauts’ sandwiches.