I worked at a Taco Bell
for eight months when I was sixteen
. Oh, what great memories I have of that place ..
Most of the food comes to the store pre-prepared. This encompasses the spicy ground beef, refried beans, steak, chicken, nacho cheese, nacho chips, lettuce and gaucamole/sour cream.
The meats and the nacho cheese come in convenient boil-in-bags which you just drop into boiling water to heat them up. Once ready you just slice the top off the bags, empty the contents into the metal containers and drop them into the steam tray and you're ready to go.
The refried beans come as a dry powder which you mix with a few quarts of boiling water, and 15 minutes later, voila, tasty refried beans!
The lettuce was pre shredded. The cheese wasn't though, back then. It came in huge 30 pound institutional size blocks. We used a Hobart cheese shredder to shred it. We had to use a piece of steel wire with a handle on it to slice the huge block into pieces small enough to fit into the Hobart. This cheesy tug-of-war was great fun for us employees who had regular contests to see who could slice up the cheese block in record time.
The tomatoes are actually peeled and sliced daily.
The various sauces come from powder you mix with hot water.
The tasty mexican pizza and taco salad shells are made from these special floury tortillas which are fried in hot oil. There is a special tool you fit over the tortilla which forms it into the shape of the taco salad shell. This chore absolutely sucks. Generally you have to fill an entire cabinet full of these shells, so you'll have to fry thirty of forty of them at a time, all the while getting covered with grease. The cinnamon twists come from these tiny egg noodles which you also fry in the grease. They swell up to many times their original size. Then you toss them with cinnamon sugar and you're done. The cinnamon twists are actually replacements for these things called cinnamon crisps, which were much better. But these got canned because supposedly they were too hard to make.
Lard is not used in frying, it's 100% vegetable shortening.
Ahh yes, the caulking guns. The sour cream and guacamole come in tubes which conveniently fit into the squeeze-handle guns. Very handy for making tacos and burritos on the fly. Also great for launching said sour cream and gaucamole long distances. As I recall, with a quick pull on the handle, the sour cream wouldn't go but a foot or two, but the guacamole had the perfect consistency and it would fly fifteen or twenty feet if you did it right. Perfect for nailing your manager from across the store. Nasty stuff to clean up though.
Don't tell anyone, but when we washed dishes we were supposed to use this techique called the Three Sink Method. There were these three sinks in the back of the store. The first one you filled with soapy water, the second with clean water, the third with water and this powdered sanitizer. You were supposed to Wash, Rinse, Sanitize, in that order. Usually this took way too long when there was a 10 foot high pile of dishes waiting on me, so I just used my One Sink Method, which was to just spray the dish off and dump it in the sanitizer. Record dishwashing time.
Moreover, Taco Bell food is really not that bad at all. It's all pre-made, so it has very little chance of spoiling or getting ruined before it gets inside your meal. Now, how the employees manage to screw it up is a totally different subject ..
The Taco Bell I worked at was pretty busy, and would do somewhere between $3000 and $4000 of business in a day.