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"Junior Achievement has a special meaning for me because it acquaints young people to the full potential of the free enterprise system,'' said Bell. "In America, it is possible to have humble beginnings and, through hard work, succeed beyond your wildest dreams,'' said Bell.
Bell had a vision for something different and an entrepreneurial drive to introduce a revolutionary concept. He founded Taco Bell in 1962 with $400 in his pocket and an idea for a new kind of fast food -- tacos. He opened the first Taco Bell in Downey, Calif., and the Mexican fast-food concept placed Bell in a unique position at a time when hamburger stands were an emerging trend.
Tacos quickly caught on because of the food's distinctive flavor and texture, and in 1969 Taco Bell went public making Bell a millionaire at the age of 46. In 1978 Bell sold the company to PepsiCo for $125 million.
Since 1997, Taco Bell has been a part of Tricon Global Restaurants Inc., a PepsiCo spin-off, which also includes Pizza Hut and KFC. Today, Taco Bell is the largest Mexican quick-serve restaurant in the world, commanding 72 percent of the Mexican QSR segment.
This year, Bell is among five notable laureates to be honored for reshaping and improving the manner in which American business operates.
"This honor is presented to the few entrepreneurial visionaries who have demonstrated business excellence, courageous thinking and actions, vision and innovation, inspirational leadership and community mindedness,'' said James Hayes, president and CEO, Junior Achievement Inc.
Other honorees this year include Henry W. Bloch, H&R Block Inc., Mike Curb, Curb Records, David Hall McConnell, Avon Products Inc., and Maggie Lena Walker, St. Luke Penny Savings Bank (St. Luke Bank & Trust). This year's distinguished individuals will be included with the past Business Hall of Fame Laureates in a permanent exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.
In 1999, a biography titled "Taco Titan: The Glen Bell Story'' was published by The Summit Publishing Group. The book chronicles Bell's life from his humble beginnings to the enormous successful enterprise he created with his own two hands.