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Thursday, March 22, 2012

How Taco Bell, Now 50, Changed America

Posted By on Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 9:06 AM

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You may pledge allegiance to your favorite lonchera and swear that you'd never eat Taco Bell's new Doritos Locos Taco, but if your grandparents weren't born in Guerrero or Sinaloa, your love for la comida auténtica is due, in part, to Glen Bell Jr. That's what Gustavo Arellano, author of the forthcoming Taco USA, argues this week on the OC Weekly's food blog, where he honors the international fast-food chain's 50th anniversary.


"When Bell sold his first crunchy taco in 1951*, Americans outside the Southwest didn't know much about Mexico besides Hollywood's banditos and spicy señoritas," Arellano claims in a radio commentary reposted on the blog. "Now, tacos and Doritos and salsas and burritos are as American as pizza, gracias a Taco Bell. I'll make an even bolder claim: Taco Bell and its spawn became a gateway for Americans to accept Mexicans."

Not only did Taco Bell make investing in Mexican food businesses appealing to white folks, Arellano continues, it paved the way for the burrito -- no, O San Franciscan, you do not own the burrito -- to win the love of millions of Midwesterners.

* According to an email from Arellano, Bell sold his first taco in December 1951, though Taco Bell marked its 50th anniversary yesterday. 

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Jonathan Kauffman

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