Bring Back Taco Bell’s 1962 Menu Immediately

Now is the perfect time to reintroduce the world to Taco Bell's spin on a burger.

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Photo: Afro American Newspapers/Gado (Getty Images)

There are so many clues that Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizza will soon return. There was that Taco Bell tweet back in January trolling us all. Then last month, Doja Cat released a Mexican Pizza rap on TikTok. We even have Dolly Parton joining in on the fight, and she’s someone who gets shit done. But now all we can really do is wait for the beloved item’s inevitable resurgence on menus across the country.

In the meantime, it’s worth contemplating what other, lesser known Taco Bell items should be tapped for a triumphant return. May I submit for your consideration an item born out of Taco Bell’s original menu: the Bell Beefer. 

What was on Taco Bell’s first menu?

Before unleashing iconic innovations like the Crunchwrap Supreme and the Cheesy Gordita Crunch, Taco Bell’s original menu in 1962 focused on five simple items:

  • Frijoles
  • Tostados
  • Tacos
  • Burritos (red or green)
  • Chili Burgers

As indicated in a photo of one of the first franchise locations published by NewsNation, each item went for 19 cents and was sold only via walk-up window. In the 1970s the price got jacked up to 25 cents a pop, and some other small details on the menu changed. “Tostados” became “tostadas” and the Chili Burger was renamed the Bell Beefer.

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What is the Bell Beefer?

The Bell Beefer was more like a sloppy joe than a burger, according to Greatist, with loose taco meat as the main protein topped with shredded lettuce, diced onion, and mild sauce, all heaped on a hamburger bun. You could mix things up by ordering a Supreme version, which added shredded cheese and tomato.

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The messy but delicious sounding sandwich faded off the menu in the 1990s, when the franchise was pivoting to only focusing on Tex-Mex items. Former Taco Bell employee Shaun Quinn tells Greatist he believes that item in particular got cut because “it just seems wrong.”

Well, with all due respect, Shaun, nothing has ever sounded more right to me, and as recently as 2019 the Facebook group “Taco Bell Please Bring Back the Bell Beefer” was fighting for its return. “They just never learn!” one post from 2016 reads, reacting to the creation of the Quesalupa. “You can combine all your menu items into strange creations.... We just want THE BELL BEEFER!”

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Why Taco Bell needs to bring back the Bell Beefer

We need to reignite the charge. Clearly the demand for this sloppy taco burger is there from those who were lucky enough to taste it when it was still around, and now there’s a new generation of Taco Bell obsessives clamoring for the return of other beloved items. Taco Bell, you have our attention, and we will taste anything you decide to unleash.

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The timing for revisiting a classic menu item couldn’t be more perfect: This year marks Taco Bell’s 60th anniversary, and the company already has plans to release limited-edition merch and a special anniversary meal for two. Why not add some revived nostalgic dishes to the mix, which can act as a reflection on the history of the restaurant while gaining new fans?

Not everything on the Taco Bell menu knocks it out of the park. Most recently, we found the Flamin’ Hot Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco to be lackluster, and the Crispy Chicken Wings were just okay. But we love Taco Bell because they take wild swings. They don’t color inside the lines—they think outside the bun. And sometimes the most outside-the-bun you can be is to redefine the bun altogether, with a big ole sloppy, beefy, taco-sauced burger.

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