What’s in a Logo, Taco Bell?

I know, I know. I don’t eat there either. Last time was at least ten years ago. But—they do have a bell prominently featured in their logo. Why’s that?

Taco Bell was started by Glen Bell in San Bernardino, California in 1946. Ok! Mystery solved! But let’s dig a little deeper. What’s the history of bells in Mexico?

The first bells in present-day Mexico were imports of metal crotals from Central and South America starting around 1000 A.D. (Crotals are hollow spherical bells with a clapper inside that rings when the crotal is shaken. Sleigh bells are examples of crotals.) It wasn’t long before the locals started making their own bells. Mixtecan warriors wore crotal bells on their ankles and wrists. Some of the smallest crotals ever cast (1.5 inches long and 0.3 inches in diameter) were made by Mixtecans and adorned exquisite jewelry. Those destined to be sacrificed to the Aztec gods would wear bells as a sign of their impersonation of the gods. These bells don’t look like the Taco Bell, though.

The Christian missionaries arrived shortly after Columbus and bells came with them. The mission settlements all over present-day Mexico mounted bells to regulate life just as in the Old World. The bells called the residents to services, announced meals, when to quit work for the day, among other things.

Bells at San Juan Capistrano
The Bells at Mission San Juan Capistrano in southern California

These bells resemble the one in the Taco Bell logo. Is Taco Bell referencing the missionary past or Christianity in Mexico today? Perhaps they are insinuating a religious devotion to their food in their patrons? Or a reference to the throbbing sound in your head after you’ve eaten their food? Ok, that was a low shot, Taco Bell. Sorry not sorry.

Eh, I’m not so sure it’s anything beyond wanting to use the founder’s name in the business name, which led to the obvious image choice, which in turn worked out because bells form an important part of Mexican history. Maybe it’s as simple as that. What’s your take?

Mission Bells Brand Fruit
Another logo referencing mission bells

4 Replies to “What’s in a Logo, Taco Bell?”

  1. A logo which is easy to recognize. The do a 12-pack of tacos in a little carrying case which can be just the thing for a pleasant repast. “Taco Bourdon” does not have the same cache, nor Taco Glockenspiel and the implications of Taco Postludio are too ominous.

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  2. I don’t want to cast aspersions on your lifestyle, but their new AM Crunchwrap does everyone has always said couldn’t be done and gives the Sausage McMuffin with Egg a run for its money. It’s real. It’s very real.

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    1. Well, BDF, maybe we’ll just have to “make a run for the border” the next time you’re in town. In the morning.

      Jim–Taco Postludio–ha! That does make me think of other things. If the logo was “Taco Chime” then they could make a jingle about “going to the Chime and only spending a dime” or something along those lines.

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