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In Alaska, Taco Bell feeds town with 10,000 free tacos (+video)

Tony Hopfinger
Hugh Dyment photo

Taco Bell on Sunday flew in 10,000 tacos to the remote Alaska town of Bethel, an event spawned after a local hoax claimed a Taco Bell franchise was opening in the town.

Although there are no official plans to open a Taco Bell in Bethel, somebody might want to jump on it after Sunday’s taco fest. It appears most of the town came out for the free tacos and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

The feast began at 1 p.m. after a Taco Bell truck was carried by helicopter from Bethel’s airport to the cultural center. For the next four hours, many of the town’s 6,200 residents stopped by to eat.

Hugh Dyment, a former mayor of Bethel, took five of his seven kids to the Taco Bell fest. He said at times it appeared there were at least 600 people at once feasting on tacos outside the cultural center. Bethel residents waited for their turn at tables, where the tacos -- hard shells made of Doritos Chips -- were handed out, Dyment said in a phone interview Sunday.

“You could take two if you wanted, then get back in line and take two more as many times as you wanted,” Dyment said.

Taco Bell’s introduction to Bethel began in early June when flyers went up around the city claiming the fast-food chain was opening a franchise in town. Residents were excited, as Bethel has a Subway, but no other restaurant chains. Yet, the flyers weren’t real, and it all turned out to be a prank, resulting from a feud between two locals.

Taco Bell executives heard about the hoax and decided to smooth things over. "If we can feed people in Afghanistan and Iraq, we can feed people in Bethel," Taco Bell CEO Greg Creed was quoted by media a few days before the event.

Dyment said he saw camera crews at the event and speculated that Taco Bell may end up using the footage for promotion or maybe a TV commercial. Either way, his family had a good time, even his dog.

“The puppy loved those Dorito-shell things,” he said.