Why The First Taco Bell Sale Was Interpreted As An Omen

In the early 1950s, future Taco Bell founder Glen Bell was at a crossroads in his restaurant career. He ran a few hamburger and hot dog stands in California, but wanted to pivot toward selling his newest invention: Pre-formed crunchy taco shells.

He launched a spinoff business, called Taco Tia, that quickly became more popular than his burgers and in 1962, Bell renamed the taco restaurant for his last name. Since then, the chain has sold billions of tacos and burritos every year and has over 7,000 locations around the globe.

Taco Bell has become notorious for its menu that never stays the same, as the chain constantly introduces new spins on Mexican favorites that repurpose similar ingredients. In fact, Taco Bell estimates that, when it comes to vegetarian meals alone, there are over 1 million unique combinations that creative customers can make from the menu.

But despite the immense variety and popularity of Taco Bell today, the very first taco Glen Bell sold, per Thrillist, was seen as a disastrous omen for the new venture.

Taco Bells messy start

Taco Bell's first-ever taco sale did not go exactly as founder Glen Bell had hoped. The first taco purchased, at what was then Bell's burger stand, was by a man in a suit and tie. When the man took the taco, he proceeded to spill the contents all over his formal clothing (via Thrillist).

Shocked and embarrassed, Bell took this as a sign of bad things to come. If he lost his first customer, how would his business ever succeed? But as it happened, the customer was not dismayed by the incident and immediately came back to Bell's stand for more tacos. "That was good. Gimme another," Bell recalled the customer said (via The New York Times).

The opposite of a bad omen, the spilled taco was just the beginning of Bell's burgeoning business. Today, 60 years later, all the food you buy is still put together by hand  — one of many things Taco Bell employees wish you knew. And when you're ready to eat, make sure to grab a napkin or two so your clothes stay clean while you live más.