Food & Drink #8: Taco Bell in the 70s

I remember Taco Hell back in the day - and, yes, they did wear these ridiculous moustaches. They haven't changed much in the past 30 years; but then that's the hallmark of a successful fast food chain - make every restaurant the same and make everything taste the same. The only thing that changes over the years is the portion size, which keeps getting bigger and bigger.

My favorite chain restaurants when I was a kid was Shoney's (because they gave you crappy comic books), Sambo's (nothing like a good racist fast food chain), Burger Chef, and, of course, the Sizzler!. On special occasions we'd hit the Steak and Ale.
But then, we, like most families, rarely ate out.  The extent to which today's Americans blow money on fast food was simply unheard of in the 70s.  Plus, there wasn't a fast food joint on every corner - the majority of the eats were not franchises.... but I digress.

Here's a mildly irritating Taco Bell commercial from 1978.  Ever since I saw it, I can't get it out of my head - so, I thought I'd spread the misery. "Taca-taca-taca-taco Bell!"


  1. I can't remember going out to eat with my family a single time in the 1960s. When my kids were young, in the 1990's,I think we probably ate out at least once a week. We usually went to Friendly's Ice Cream because it was cheap and the kids would actually eat the food. Nothing was sure to drive me crazy like going to a restaurant with the kids and then have them pick at their food.

  2. That was ridiculously awesome! I couldn't help hearing "Taco Hell" instead of "Taco Bell" in the song and it made it much more tolerably dorky. Great find!

  3. Ah the old days.
    Satellite Hamburgers. Don't remember much about the burgers, but THOSE FRIES!! Pencil thin, crunchy, nothing on the inside but air, lovingly deep fried in pure LARD, and SWIMMING in salt.

  4. Dack ThrombosisApril 22, 2010

    I will never, ever get that first picture out of my head as long as I live.

  5. One of my favorite places to eat as a kid in the 70's was Tastee Freeze. They made a great grilled ham and cheese and had lost of ice cream choices.

  6. Gilligan, thanks for reminding me of family forays into the dimly lit world of terror and ptomaine known as Steak and Ale!

  7. Ooh, my favourite was this place in Northern California that I'm sure The Slaughterhouse from the Simpsons was based on. Massive great portions of beef and not much else on the menu.

    It was probably singularly responsible for obesity in the Bay Area at the very least.

  8. Love how the TV ad makes it seem you can go to TB for breakfast! I know it's the crew happily starting a day of serving tacos..

    My family, in 1975, was hosting another family at our home. Mom decided to not cook, and sent the dads and the kids to get KFC for supper. You woulda thought us kids were told we were goin' to Disney World!

    Al Bigley

  9. That photo looks like Mathew McConahay (sp?).

  10. Taco Bell has changed in the most important way possible - their beef.
    They basically serve bits of gristle mixed with (yeep!) cellulose, and spice it up in some grease.
    But back then, they used simple, real, honest-to-goodness hamburger meat.

  11. I remember when Taco Bell in the 70's was three or four little arched windows in front of the building you would walk up to (similar to Dairy Queens) at least the one in Napa, CA was like that. No enclosed dining area, just a bunch of tables outside with covers that resembled the sombrero on the sign. And tomatoes were sprinkled on tacos, I remember picking them off as a kid. Now tomatoes come on the more expensive tacos, as if it's some luxury item.