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Glen Bell | Success Story of the Man Behind Taco Bell



Glen Bell

Glen Bell was an American entrepreneur. He established one of the most successful Mexican-inspired food chains, Taco Bell. Throughout his life, he worked hard to serve the Americans through his diligence. From a young age, he was passionate about food. Glen had done everything from growing and harvesting vegetables to serving the country during the war. His vision of bringing Mexican cuisine to Southern Americans became a reality when he started selling tacos at his small food stand. In 1962, he established the first Taco Bell store. Today, it is one of the major fast-food chains in the world. 


In the era of McDonald’s growing popularity, Glen Bell introduced Taco Bell to the world. The delectable, crunchy, and fresh tacos became an instant hit among the Southern American community. At the time, people in the Southern parts of America did not know much about Mexican cuisine. Glen revolutionized the fast-food world by adding tacos to his hamburger and hot dog food stall menu. Within five years, his taco business emerged profitably. Presently, the company he created serves more than two billion customers a year. Glen has inspired millions of people with his honesty, generosity, and commitment to serving the best food. 

Early Life

Glen William Bell Jr. was born on the 3rd of September 1923 in Lynwood, Los Angeles County, California. His father, Glen William Bell Sr., worked on a construction site. Whereas his mother, Ruth Elizabeth Bell, was a homemaker. When Glen turned five, he and his family moved to Oregon, a western part of the United States. After moving, the family began farming to earn a livelihood. During The Great Depression, Glen’s family was struggling to make ends meet. Consequently, young Glen started selling cottage cheese in the neighborhood. From a young age, he started working to help his family. In 1934, the family decided to move back to California. 

Upon returning, they started farming at a 10-acre orchard. Glen’s grandmother owned the orchard. Soon, the family was earning enough to lead a better life than earlier. They were growing apples, potatoes, and strawberries. They also had a garden and many chickens. Little Glen used to sell fruits, vegetables, eggs, and flowers that grew in the orchard. For schooling, Glen attended the San Bernardino High School. While he was still in high school, he used to travel from Iowa to Washington to seek jobs. After completing high school, he decided he won’t opt for further studies. Glen moved to Washington to his aunt’s place. His aunt owned a bakery. He spent the summer working at his aunt’s bakery. While working at the bakery, he learned how to bake blackberry pies. As a result, his passion for food grew. However, after the summer ended, he was enlisted to join the US Military Services. 

Initial Years of Career

During the Second World War, Glen joined the military. Initially, he worked in the forestry department. After that, he worked for the military near Barstow, California. Finally, he joined the Marine Corps of the US Military. During wartime, he prepared and portioned food for the top military brass. As a result, his cooking and portioning skills improved. He learned many things during his service. From cleaning to providing prompt service, Glen did everything. After the war ended, Glen returned to San Bernardino. He was more passionate than ever about starting his cooking journey. Soon, he built a food stand in 1946 with his sister’s help and part-time jobs. He named it Bell’s Drive-in. At the food stand, Glen sold hamburgers and hot dogs. For many years, he worked for more than 14 hours a day. In the late 1940s, he built another food stand. It was a new location, and McDonald’s had started gaining popularity. Moreover, there was a restaurant across the street. It was the Mitla Café. They sold Mexican food. People gathered in big crowds to have their hard-shelled tacos. Glen was amazed to see the popularity of Mexican food. Soon, he decided that he would learn how to make hard-shelled tacos.

Establishment of Taco Bell

Glen started visiting the Mitla Café regularly. He wanted to learn the secret behind their popular taco recipe. After many visits, the owners of Mitla Café finally agreed to share the hard-shelled taco recipe with Glen. In 1953, Glen started selling tacos for 19 cents at his hamburger and hot dog stand after mastering the art of frying taco shells. The tacos were an instant hit. Glen decided to expand the taco business. Within two years, he opened another two taco stands and named them Taco Tia.

To extend the business, he had partnered with two people. However, he decided to sell off his share from Taco Tia after some time. Glen wanted to take the Mexican cuisine to the Long Beach area. Hence, after selling his share from Taco Tia, he partnered with a few professional football players to establish El Taco. By the late 1950s, Glen opened four El Tacos in partnership. But this didn’t last long either. Soon, Glen decided that he wanted to establish an independent taco place. In 1962, he sold off his shares from the four El Taco restaurants to establish Taco Bell.

On the 21st of March 1962, Glen opened the first-ever Taco Bell store in Downey, California. People loved the freshly made, crunchy, and juicy tacos Glen served. Soon, Taco Bell became the talk of the town. Two years later, Glen franchised his business. After that, there was no looking back for Taco Bell. The company proliferated; within five years, there were more than a hundred Taco Bell restaurants across America. In 1978, soft-drink giant PepsiCo purchased Taco Bell for $125 million. At the time, Taco Bell had more than 800 outlets nationwide. 

Life after Taco Bell

After selling Taco Bell, Glen became a shareholder of PepsiCo. In 1985, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. However, he was an active philanthropist. He made notable contributions to animal welfare, railway association, and agriculture. He established “Bell Gardens” for students. Over sixty crops were cultivated at the Bell Gardens, and more than 100,000 people visited it yearly. Glen provided over $1 million every year for the maintenance of the gardens. In 2010, he passed away after battling Parkinson’s disease for twenty-five years. Glen Bell created history by establishing Taco Bell. Today, the company has more than $30 billion net worth. Glen’s legacy continues to stay with the world through Taco Bell.  

Also read: Wow! Momo | Success story of India’s Largest Momo chain

Is Glen Bell Mexican?

No, Glen Bell is American. He was born in Lynwood, a city in Los Angeles, California. He spent most of his life in America serving the Americans the most delicious Mexican-inspired dishes through Taco Bell. 

How old was Glen Bell when he passed away?

Glen Bell was 86 years old when he passed away in 2010 after battling Parkinson’s disease for 25 years. He was survived by his wife, children, and sisters. At the time, he was living in Rancho Santa Fe in California.

When did Glen Bell sell Taco Bell?

Glen Bell sold off Taco Bell in 1978 to one of the world’s most extensive food and beverage companies, PepsiCo. He sold the prominent fast-food chain for $125 million. However, after selling Taco Bell, he became a shareholder of PepsiCo. 

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