Wiernschnitzel is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year by bringing back the "Der" grammatical article that was the original name of the hot dog stand that John Galardi opened in 1961. The story is well-known that Galardi got the name from the wife of Glen Bell, Taco Bell's founder, after she looked through a cookbook. But the connection between the two true fast-food mavens goes deeper.
In 1958, the 19-year-old Galardi was just a week removed from his Missouri birthplace when he and his family walked down Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena looking for work. He was the last one to find a job--a a Taco-Tia, Bell's original taco chain, and hired by Bell's wife, Marty. Within a year, Bell hired Galardi to run the commissary for a new taco chain he was starting alongside some NFL players--El Taco. But Galardi quit after Bell cut his salary in half on the advice of consultants.
But there were no hard feelings. In the early 1960s, Galardi lent Bell $6,000, which he used as seed money to find locations to start his third taco chain: Taco Bell. Around that time, a lot that Bell owned in Wilmington became vacant after the business that leased it (literally, a guy who filled the place with trampolines and charged people to jump on them-wasn't that a Simpsons episode! It was! The cursed trampoline that Homer got from Krusty!). Bell's partners wanted to build a taco stand on it, but Bell refused since there was an El Taco nearby. Instead, Bell suggested someone sell hot dogs, because they always sold well at his original San Bernardino stands.
Galardi agreed to take on the concept. He borrowed Bell's chili sauce recipe for his chili dogs--and the rest, as they say, is historia.