While Taco Bell might not quite match the global success of some its fast-food competitors, it’s pop-culture cachet is near untouchable. From branding coups like the “FourthMeal” slogan and the iconic chihuahua, to the invention of a language all of its own, the chain has captured our imagination with its sometimes bizarro antics and its munchies-friendly image. Among people who actively hate and avoid fast food, Taco Bell is often the one exception they’ll make. CrunchWrap Supremes have power like that.
Taco Bell was founded in California in 1962 by Glen Bell, an entrepreneur who had previously run a hot-dog stand called Bell’s Drive-In, as well as a taco joint called Taco-Tia. By 1967, there were 100 Taco Bells operating in L.A. next to dozens of other local fast-food Mexican chains. In his book Taco USA, journalist Gustavo Arellano argues that these Mexican-American hybrids were “a gateway drug…a bridge, a guide, for the American gut,” providing a safe entry point Mexican food even as it appeared to mangle its ingredients and origins.
Recently, Taco Bell has continued its assault on the popular conscience with meme-worthy creations like Doritos Locos Tacos, which sold more than half a billion units in their first year. It’s also been a game-changer in terms of how a big brand can use social media, running an infamously cheeky Twitter account, fostering a playful relationship with YouTube megastar Tyler Oakley, and even using the teen-favored app Snapchat to announce the return of the Beefy Crunch Burrito.
Regardless of what you think about the flavor of the ground beef, there’s no doubt that Taco Bell is one of the most creative fast-food joints in the game. Still, it’s had their fair share of slip-ups along the way. Here are ten things you might not know (or remember) about Taco Bell, including is role in Demolition Man and its beef with 50 Cent.