TACO BELL was great pre-90's formerly on ChowHound

Hi All, This is Hungryman8 from ChowHound fame. I just noticed ChowHound was shutdown. Probably because it revealed to the public how Taco Bell is not the same as it was in the early 1990’s and prior by the Founder Glen Bell. How it turned into a inferior cafeteria style food of preservatives, additives, and no longer “The Fresh Food Place” (slogan) it once was since YUM Brands took it over. Let’s start a new discussion here and bring back the knowledge of our experiences of those who ate Taco Bell when it was authentic and healthy. Not to mention the most delectable taste ever. remember when every Taco Bell cooked, and prepped the raw ingredients on-site in their kitchens? From the 10 lb. raw meat blocks to the blocks of cheese, and crates of fresh vegetables including frying the nachos on site in natural healthy coconut oil. Then YUM brands removed all the kitchens with their K-minus plan, and now make the stale food in a central commissary only to ship it around the country in plastic bags to all Taco Bell locations. They also fry their chips and shells in toxic man made vegetable oils. This is why your nachos taste rancid. Unlike how delicious the chips were in the early 90’s and before. Plenty more to discuss. I hope the other veterans see this board and chime in again.

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You “just” noticed it was shut down? Obviously not a keen user from one claiming"fame", as it shut down nearly a year back.

An interesting post for a first day of being here. Do you have a particular issue with this American fast food chain? It’s just that comparing how it is now with how it was 30 years back seems sort of odd. Everything changes over time - I was great fun when I was in my 40s, more grumpy old man now I’m in my 70s.


I didn’t like Taco Bell 30 years ago.

At least it tolerated me then. It full on hates me now.


I remember that Chowhound thread, in which you suggested that the reason Taco Bell is not good now is because the YUM Brands headquarters is located in Korea. So no.


Ah, foreign acquisition of food brands is an interesting thing. I’m predicting a decline in the quality of the UK premier coffee shop brand - Costa Coffee - now it’s owned by Americans.


I abandoned TB when they deleted green sauce from their condiments.
Haven’t missed it.

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I have never eaten at a Taco Bell in my entire life - not the 80s, 90s, 00s, etc., and I’ve yet to experience #FOMO about it.



Had to Google it. Then nearly pissed myself laughing.


There’s #FOMO and #YOLO. The older I get the less I experience the former & the latter becomes more and more apparent :wink:


So nice to know I’m not the only one.


I was never interested in Mexican food (and yes, I use the term loosely given the context) until an Oaxacan taco place opened up in town. Why on earth would I eat crappy, mass-produced garbage if I can support a small business that makes fantastic food?

Maybe one has to have grown up in the land of chains, I don’t know.


Hi my friend, I have been busy with the passing of my mother who died January '22 and did not have extra time to go onto all the forums I have visited. I also had to sell my house, etc.

YES, I have a beef with Taco Bell now called Toxic Hell. I know many things change, but good food is not one of them. The same as when Coke tried to alter the original formula and call it New Coke, it flopped. Or when a recipe is passed down from generation to generation - why because it’s good and should remain. That is what makes a great recipe.

I hope the original poster from ChowHound chimes in on here. I can’t remember his name, but he had started a similar titled thread about this subject in 2010. Between him, myself, and many former Taco Bell managers, workers, and enthusiasts - we had a great thread of instructions on how to duplicate REAL Taco Bell from the glory days. You can even see commercials on Youtube from the 1980’s of Taco bell when they were The Fresh Food Place and great menu items. Notice how the black olives and green onions are gone? To save a penny, that’s why. Taco Bell up until the early 90’s was satisfying like something you buy on the street corner in the night. That is how good it was. The flavors are no more.

But Taco Bell is not Mexican food.


Correct, It is Tex Mex. Or I should say WAS Tex Mex. Oh here is some more info. I had gathered in the past describing the real Taco Bell…

“ The “Bell” in Taco Bell harkens back to Glen Bell, who founded the chain back in 1962. Glen Bell and the Bell family were very much concerned with providing quality fast food. It’s why you’ll hear many tales among the answers here about all of the painstaking steps that were once taken to prepare their tacos and burritos … most of which are unheard of today in fast food.

But another large part of it was the source of their ingredients. I can’t speak for anywhere outside of California, but here in the 70’s and 80’s while I was in school, their meat came from a restaurant supplier called Tully. I don’t think they’re around anymore, but at the time, Tully also supplied meat to many 4-star restaurants in the Los Angeles area. I remember seeing the same Tully trucks that stopped and unloaded ground beef at the Taco Bell on Carson and Western (the first franchised location), could also be seen unloading meat at many much higher priced sit-down restaurants in the area. This was also unusual for fast food … even back then. The food at Taco Bell was very good. So much better than anything available in fast food today, that the difference is almost indescribable!

But the 70’s and 80’s were also the beginnings of the so-called “Burger Wars”, a period where the fast food landscape grew exponentially, quantity and low pricing began to rule the day for luring customers, and, in an effort to increase profits, most fast food chains were forced to continually cut corners just to survive the onslaught of price cuts and heavy advertising by giant corporations like McDonalds.

None of this fit well with Glen Bell’s vision and business model. To his credit, the food remained delicious and inexpensive through this period, but predictably, Taco Bell’s profits started to slip noticeably. Eventually, he sold out to PepsiCo in 1978.

For a while, PepsiCo didn’t rock the boat. I graduated from High School in 1982, and remember eating lots of Taco Bell food until then, with little or any change. I had read that PepsiCo now owned Taco Bell, but short of not being able to get a Coke at any location, I didn’t notice much difference. However, sometime while I was in College (1982–1987) things changed drastically.

First to go were the fresh chopped onions and other veggies that were a subtle signature of a Taco Bell taco or burrito versus other chains. But the last straw was when they changed the meat! Overnight, you went from fresh ground beef that was seasoned and prepared on-site, rivaling and tasting very much like what you would prepare on “taco night” in your own home, to this nondescript “paste”, which tasted horrible by comparison. To be fair, it wasn’t unlike what was being served at any other fast food chain that offered tacos at this point, but up until then, Taco Bell had always been radically different.

And that was pretty much it. Taco Bell became corporate owned. They also became very profitable compared to the Bell family’s struggles at the time of the sale. The bean counters did what they had to do to make the chain survive, but the quality of the food served suffered irreparably in that process.

These days, I almost never eat at Taco Bell. Where I live, there are just as many Del Taco locations, and while their food doesn’t light a candle to the Taco Bell I remember from the 70’s and 80’s, it is in my opinion still a couple of steps ahead as far as taste is concerned. There’s just something about the meat at Taco Bell that I can never get used to … and it might just be me remembering just how truly good it once was!”

“I trained in Taco Bell #1 and opened #17. (1964) Back then we cooked the taco shells in pure coconut oil daily. We Cooked the beans from scratch and refried them. We shredded the lettuce every morning. We cooked the taco meat as needed throughout the day. No hot sauce packets, we filled little 3/4 ounce cups (100’s) of them daily. The ingredients were fresher and tasted better than the central kitchen prepared ingredients you find in a Taco Bell today. Plus you could get a taco and a small Pepsi for 25 cents!

There were only 6 menu items. I could run the place with two people when it was slow and four if it got real busy. Fun times for a 14-15 year old. Fresh made tastes better”

“They are a victim of an acquisition by YUM foods. The same thing has happened to KFC and Pizza Hut. YUM likes to cut corners so Pizza no longer spends all day making pizza dough, they have them delivered frozen and it takes less than an hour to cook. It saves YUM money but doesn’t taste as good as the old way Pizza Hut made their pizza. Like Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC also have most of their food coming from the freezer and unfresh ingredients. It saves money and YUM makes great profits but the food isn’t as good as it used to be at Pizza Hut, KFC, or Taco Bell.”

Some might say it’s not even food :wink:


Today yes. It’s more like oscar meyer playdough rather than food. Those here that never had Taco Bell in the 1980’s or earlier will never understand what the passion is about or how good their food used to be. Night and day to today’s items sold. No comparison. I knew the first day Taco Bell changed the frying oils of their nacho chips. My Nachos Belgrande went from ecstasy to rancid tasting blah. I tasted the bitterness of the vegetable oil immediately. THAT is when I knew something bad happened. Then the green onions were gone, and then the black olives, and then the 100% beef changed into beef/sawdust blend. Yes, sawdust is used as filler. Same as oatmeal. The refried beans are shipped in plastic bags now and warmed. Even the tortillas that used to be refrigerated are now the shelf stable type. And do you know why the burritos no longer have one open end? They are now closed on both ends. Because YUM lessened the amount of filling. For example the bean burrito used to be 2 SCOOPS of refried beans and now is only one. Basically it is a DOUGH burrito. When I used to get them in the 80’s they were filled and heavy and had that one open end. The company’s excuse for changing the folding was “because drive through customer’s complained the filling would fall out”. Think about that. It is laughable. No they just wanted to cut costs. So I make them myself now and they are exactly the same as they used to be. I have not bough a bean burrito from them since 1998 or so.

Nah, plenty of chains where I grew up. I guess there were enough Mexican and Tex-Mex places to scratch my occasional quesadilla or fajita itch.

Back in the late 70’s/early 80’s we had an interesting Taco Bell in Redondo Beach that had a walk up bar in front of a kitchen you could watch your food being made. My fav was the Burrito Supreme. Unfortunately, there has been nothing “supreme” about it for many years.

Another fav was the JimBoy’s shredded beef Super Burrito, but year’s ago they discontinued their shredded beef due to costs, and the Super Burrito was gone.

Now a days it is pretty much home made or the local taqueria that makes the best carnitas I have ever had (this from a guy who used to live in San Diego).

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I think the only chains we had in my hometown were McDonald’s, Wienerwald (a pretty basic roti chicken chain), and Nordsee. McDonald’s was an occasional ‘treat’ or lazy teen/twen food, and Nordsee was a pretty solid choice for all kinds of fish sammiches - fried, pickled, smoked, and other prepared seafood things like fish fry, and fresh fish & shellfish to prepare at home.

I was just there recently and looked through their windows… they may have a few more fried takeout items now, but not much has changed.

Sorry, serious thread hijack here. … slinks away :dotted_line_face:


I never experienced Taco Bell in the 80s - my first time was sometime in the early 90s when one finally opened in my small hometown. It has changed somewhat since then, but I would never have described it as legitimately great or high-quality food, even in the 90s. However, I’m not ashamed to admit that I LOVE Taco Bell. I also love actual Mexican food - no reason not to love both since they are apples and oranges that just happen to share some vocabulary. Taco Bell is absolute trash but in the most delicious, terrible for you, hangover-curing, stoner way possible. One of my top two road trip fast food favorites (the other is Arby’s). Long live the Bell!