Taco Bell is an iconic American fast food restaurant founded by Glen Bell in 1962 that specializes in its own version of inexpensive Mexican food. It operates in some 30 countries and saw U.S. sales in excess of $11 million in 2020.
Bell himself invented the crunchy taco that’s now an intrinsic part of Mexican-American cuisine. He developed the prefabricated shells to be quickly stuffed with seasoned beef and cheese. The menu has expanded to include burritos, quesadillas, nachos, chalupas and proprietary items such as the Crunchwrap, and hybrids such as the quesarito.
Bell sold Taco Bell to Pepsico in 1978. In 1997 the beverage giant spun it off, along with sister chains Pizza Hut and KFC, into Tricon, which was rebranded as Yum! Brands in 2002.
Taco Bell has remained affiliated with Pepsico, selling Pepsi-owned beverages including proprietary blends developed with Mountain Dew. In 2012 it teamed up with Pepsico subsidiary Frito-Lay to develop Doritos Locos Tacos, one of the most successful rollouts in restaurant history.
Innovation has continued with the nationwide launch of breakfast in 2014 and Nacho Fries in 2016.
Although known as a good source for hearty, inexpensive food favored by the 18-34-year-old demographic, Taco Bell is also praised by animal rights and vegetarian groups for its vegetarian repertoire thanks to its wide use of beans.
Headquarters: Irvine, Calif.
Segment: Quick Service
Restaurant Segment: LSR Mexican
Number of U.S. Locations: 7,249
2020 Sales: $11,307,907
Source: Datassential Firefly 500
CEO: Mark King
Parent Group: Yum! Brands Inc.