A New Jersey Taco Bell in 2006. (Photo by Sylwia Kapuscinski/Getty Images)

He brought us this. Sylwia Kapuscinski/Getty Images)

By Mark Memmott

Let's pause a moment to honor the passing of Glen W. Bell Jr.

As the Associated Press writes, the 86-year-old Bell was "best known as the founder of the Taco Bell chain." He died Sunday at his home in Rancho Sante Fe, Calif. The cause of death hasn't yet been reported.

Taco Bell's website tells much more of the founder's story -- starting with the Bell's Drive-In he opened in San Bernardino in 1948.

"Bell's Drive-In first served a menu with hamburgers and hot dogs to its customers," the company writes. "However, Bell soon decided to differentiate his menu by adding Mexican fare. He quickly realized the need to develop a convenient way to serve items such as tacos in a take-out environment. He also began experimenting with a drive-thru concept. Once he perfected his taco shell recipe, taco sauces and the convenient drive-thru concept, he was ready to introduce the tastes and textures of Mexican food to mainstream America."

A series of taco ventures followed -- and there was a brief time when Bell's career might have taken a very different culinary turn. Taco Bell says that:

In 1961, not content with just perfecting the quick-service Mexican food concept, Bell, together with his employee John Galardi, started Der Wienerschnitzel. Later, John went on to build Der Wienerschnitzel into a chain of his own.

But hot dogs apparently couldn't compete with Mexican fare in Bell's mind.

The next year, 1962, Taco Bell was founded. He sold the company to PepsiCo in 1978. It's now a subsidiary of Yum! Brands.

And thanks to Glen Bell, we now have the Beefy 5-Layer Burrito, the Gordita Supreme and the Volcano Taco.

categories: Food, Obituaries

2:40 - January 18, 2010