Logo Evolution: Taco Bell

Taco Bell was founded in 1962 by Glen Bell, who had owned hot dog stands and other taco stands as far back as 1946. The first Taco-Tia stands opened in the early ’50s and were the forerunner of Taco Bell. The first Taco Bell opened in Downey, California on March 21, 1962, and today the franchise boasts over 7,000 locations.

As with any of my other logo capsules, dates may not be totally accurate. As is often the case with logos, older logos can stick around in advertising and building design for a while after their official expiration dates.


Taco Bell logo: 1962-1972

Taco Bell logo and sign: 1962-1972

The original Taco Bell logo design had two separate elements — there was a colorful, blocky wordmark and a festive sombrero/bell sign. This was in widespread use for the first decade of Taco Bell’s existence. Despite its first use in the 1960s, the original Taco Bell retains a decidedly 1950s aesthetic. It’s the most fun logo the company used, although lacking any kind of sophistication.

Here’s a great example of the logo (albeit in black and white) along with some other imagery that would probably not fly today, from a 1968 newspaper ad:

1968 Taco Bell newspaper ad

The Taco Bell Five!


Taco Bell logo - 1972-85

Taco Bell flew headlong into the earth tones of the 1970s with this update. Not much to say about this one.


Taco Bell logo - 1984-1994

Hmm, now I can’t decide if the original logo is my favorite or if this one is. Anyway, the intent of this redesign was to help the chain become more mainstream yet not become so Americanized as to lose its ethnic identity. Another part of this marketing blitz involved a glassware giveaway tie-in with Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, as Burger King had done with Star Wars movies in previous years.


Taco Bell logo (1992-94)

The 1990s finally came to Taco Bell with this logo, which was rolled out around 1992 and used, among other places, on the chain’s Taco Bell at Home line of prepackaged foods. It also was a sneak preview of things to come.


Taco Bell logo - 1995-present

Yeah, not feeling this one. Never liked it or the color scheme at all.


Taco Bell logo (2016-present)

The newest Taco Bell logo was unveiled to coincide with the opening of its flagship restaurant in Las Vegas. Which is kind of strange when you think about it, as this logo is minimalist in the extreme and not loud or gaudy at all. Let’s just say I don’t care for it any more than the previous one. Oh well, that’s progress I suppose.

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Catalog Goodness #3: Late ’70s Exercise Equipment

I know that making fun of 1970s fashion is an easy thing to do, and I certainly enjoy a good bell-bottom or earth tone joke as much as the next guy. But one thing that gets overlooked in ’70s jokes is how primitive the home exercise equipment of that time looks compared to now.

To illustrate, here are three pages from the Fall 1977 Sears catalog that showcase home workout equipment made up of approximately 86.3% pipes and belts. Let’s get physical!

Late '70s Exercise Equipment from the Fall 1977 Sears catalog

Triple Action Progress-A-Cyzer. Dig it.

Late '70s Exercise Equipment from the Fall 1977 Sears catalog

OK, that thing on the bottom is literally just a board with some rods attached.

Late '70s Exercise Equipment from the Fall 1977 Sears catalog

I’m pretty sure half of this stuff is banned by the Geneva Convention.

Before We Was Fab: Benny Spellman, “Fortune Teller”

Before We Was Fab looks at some of the best songs of the pre-Beatles era, in search of great singles that have largely been forgotten.

If you’ve heard of Benny Spellman at all, chances are it’s because of his association with groups such as The Rolling Stones, The Who, The O’Jays, or The Hollies — all of whom covered his songs.

Benny Spellman, "Fortune Teller"As it happens, I was listening to the iconic Who album Live at Leeds and paid particular attention to their live rendition of “Fortune Teller.” The Who, as with many English rock bands of the time, had a deep love and appreciation for popular and obscure R&B, and that’s where “Fortune Teller” comes in.

The song was written by the great Allen Toussaint under the pseudonym Naomi Neville, and was first recorded by Spellman as the B-side of his only hit single, “Lipstick Traces (on a Cigarette).” That single was released on Minit Records in the spring of 1962 and debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 on May 5. The A-side peaked at #80 on June 2, but did find greater success on the Hot R&B Sides chart (#28).

Musically, there is very little difference between Spellman’s original and the versions recorded by The Who or The Rolling Stones. Toussaint’s production has a little more bounce and flair (courtesy some extra percussion and barely noticeable horns), but doesn’t have the same bombast (Who) or speed and urgency (Stones). But otherwise, even the greatest rock groups ever knew to leave a great tune largely alone.

Benny Spellman never had another hit and released only a few singles after 1965. He was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2009, and died of respiratory failure in June 2011, at the age of 79.

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