"Basically, in the early '90s, the demand for tacos was so extreme we needed to figure out a way to make our kitchens more efficient," Prince said. "So our engineers were tasked with figuring out a way to churn out tacos faster."
Instead of thinking about streamlining the kitchen process, the engineers decided to re-think the taco-making process completely. To innovate the industry like Henry Ford blew the lid off horseless carriages. Instead of using employees to make the tacos, why not move them to a customer-facing role and have a machine do the dirty work?
"What they came up with was a machine that made 900 tacos an hour. It was the first of its kind… and pretty much the last of its kind, too," Prince said.
The machine used an internal assembly line, going through the motions of taco building (adding meat, lettuce, tomatoes, and sauce mechanically) before popping out a fully formed taco every four seconds. Three ATMs were made and rolled out to three separate stores in Southern California, where they essentially replaced the kitchen staff.