Ask not for whom the (Taco) Bell tolls

Glen W. Bell Jr., founder of the Taco Bell chain, has gone to The Big Tortillera in the Sky. He was 86.

According to The New York Times, Bell opened his first Taco Bell in 1962, in Downey, California, and three years later sold his first franchise. In 1978, he sold his 868 Taco Bells to PepsiCo for $125 million in stock. Today, Yum! Brands is the boss, with more than 5,600 locations and 36.8 million customers per week, gobbling up 2 billion tacos and 1 billion burritos per annum. Yum! also owns Pizza Hut, Long John Silver’s, A&W and KFC, so if you get tired of eating fake Mexican food, you can have fake pizza, fake fish, fake burgers or fake chicken as an easy, greasy change of pace.

What with “the Daddy-O of SpaghettiOs,” Donald E. Goerke, shoving off last week at age 83, one might wonder whether God has had enough of people turning His plants and animals into tasteless, chemically “enhanced,” heavily processed foodlike substances. Probably not. Yum! claims to be the world’s largest restaurant company, with more than 36,000 outlets in 110 countries and territories.

One thing is certain. Bell and Goerke sure as hell didn’t make it into their 80s eating the shit they sold to the rest of us.

14 Responses to “Ask not for whom the (Taco) Bell tolls”

  1. 1
    khal spencer:

    I have no use for the shit they sell, but on the other hand, it could have been the genes that kept them alive, shit food or not. My step-granddad lived into his late eighties on a diet of meat, potatoes, whiskey, and cigarettes. Those four food groups did him well. Finally died from complications of cancer and total body failure. But he probably racked up more rotations around the sun than I will, all this health consciousness notwithstanding.

    One of my surviving uncles will turn 90 this March. He survived Patton, Hitler, and living on the south side of Buffalo for most of his life. Keeps a traditional Italian diet but he too has smoked his way to longevity. Go figure.

  2. 2
    Bruce M.:

    Patrick and Khal, remember the four basic food groups: Grease, Alcohol, Caffeine, and Sugar. “Live long and prosper.” :-) Go ahead, laugh! But isn’t this the way we eat?

  3. 3
    Boz:

    I love the new ads for the Taco Bell diet plan. I thought they were a joke, but then realized these D-bags are serious. Can’t wait for Hardees to introduce the Monster Burger Diet. WTF…

  4. 4
    Patrick O'Grady:

    Go figure. My grandmothers both lived into their mid-90s despite wicked-bad diets (think redneck Florida and Iowa) and nicotine addictions. The males in my family, on the other hand, all croak early due to a genetic passion for evil living. The O’Grady motto is “Vulneratus non victus,” meaning “Wounded but not defeated,” but it should be “Live hard, die young, leave a good-looking corpse.”

  5. 5
    Jeff in PetroMetro:

    I vaguely remember an interview on something like 60 Minutes where the CEO of Coke (at least three CEOs ago) claimed to drink six Cokes a day. There is no way.

  6. 6
    khal spencer:

    So Patrick, speaking of that proposed family motto….

  7. 7
    steve o:

    83 and 86 are not old. They’re older than average, but average is hardly something to which to aspire.

    I wonder, when you see one of those truck stops with the Taco Hell, A&W, and KFC co-joined, do they get credit for three store fronts? I found it odd that little ol’ Subway has more stores than McDonald’s, until I really thought about it. The average Subway is about one foot wider and two feet longer than the sandwiches they shill.

    McDonald’s may have been overtaken by other franchise, and one would think that even a relatively week health food movement would put a dent in their growth. But they’ve averaged better than 25% growth over the last three years.

    “Health food …” Funny that we have to put a label on that small percentage of food that doesn’t make us sick. Is it an old Italian saying that goes, pay your farmer today or your doctor tomorrow?

  8. 8
    khal spencer:

    Somewhat related.

    From: Michael Pollan: “You Are What You Grow.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/22/magazine/22wwlnlede.t.html?_r=1

    “…Compared with a bunch of carrots, a package of Twinkies, to take one iconic processed foodlike substance as an example, is a highly complicated, high-tech piece of manufacture, involving no fewer than 39 ingredients, many themselves elaborately manufactured, as well as the packaging and a hefty marketing budget. So how can the supermarket possibly sell a pair of these synthetic cream-filled pseudocakes for less than a bunch of roots?

    For the answer, you need look no farther than the farm bill…”

  9. 9
    Patrick O'Grady:

    Hey, Khal, I’m not dead yet, even though I look like it. And feel like it, too, come to think of it. I actually logged a little mileage last week — a whopping 126 miles — and my legs are about as lively as those tubes of traction sand I chuck in the back of the ’83 Toy to keep it from sliding around on the ice. I rode 90 minutes of mild hills today and felt like I was towing all of our inner children in a giant Burley trailer. Too many Twinkies as a lad, while Dad was inhaling martinis by the liter.

    And Steve — you ever buy any vittles from one of those Unholy Trinity Gas & Grease Pits? Man, it’s like the American Nightmare boiled down to its rank essence in there. I’m reminded of Mickey Rourke playing Charles Bukowski in “Barfly,” talking about needing “fuel” to thump Sly Stallone’s dumber brother.

  10. 10
    James:

    Patrick,
    You sure your math is correct? 36.8 customers per week in 5,600 locations? Huh? Something is not making sense there. Especially if those 1913.6 customers per annum are scarfing down over 1,567,725 times their number in burritos or tacos. My math might be wrong but I think you mean “per hour” compadre.
    I won’t say that this might explain the fascination with Jared and Subway ’sandwiches’ but sheit!!! That’s a lot of beef!!! I think Clara Peller would now know where all that beef went!

  11. 11
    khal spencer:

    Aye, mate…we’re not dead yet?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGFXGwHsD_A

    Aging is weird. I had no idea of what I’m supposed to look or feel like at this stage of life. I recall my aunts, uncles, and parents in their fifties, and they looked a little more worse for wear. They were a lot more sedentary and man, it showed.

    The Significant Other asked me tonight if I feared death. I said in the abstract, no, since none of us get out of this life alive. On the other hand when I woke up in the middle of the night a year ago this month with really bad chest pains and band-clamp chest tightness, I was scared shitless and looking for the proverbial rosary. Turned out to be a badly inflamed hiatal hernia. In the grand scheme of practical jokes, God 1, Khal 0.

  12. 12
    Larry T.:

    Fast food. I’m here in Italy getting close to slipping (more like squeezing) into a pair of CycleItalia tights with “Slow Food” proudly sublimated on the butt. Here in Viterbo, there IS a Micky D’s outside the medieval walls but quick eats here on the inside are freshly baked focaccia, pizza and other delectable treats with little in the way of noxious chemicals and no genetically modified stuff. We see the school kids walking around the cobbled streets with this “fast food” all day. Most Italian towns have a sign saying something like “Welcome to Viterbo, GMO free city” with a “Nuclear Free Zone” sign underneath. Gawd, I LOVE this country!

  13. 13
    khal spencer:

    I’ll have to look up Viterbo. When we were in Rome and various places in the North in 1992, it was easy to find good local food served up readily, as Larry mentions.

    We were surprised to see a Golden Arches right around the corner from the Spanish Steps. Several tour buses were pulled up in front. Why go to Rome to eat mass-produced burgers? We feasted on produce, cheese, and bread from local open markets, and amazed ourselves scoring really good four to six buck (5000 to 7500 lire, or whatever it was at the time) Italian wines.

  14. 14
    steve o:

    Looking at the index of my Larousse Gastronomique … can’t find the word “nugget” in there anywhere!

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