An audio engineer took the fast-food chain's signature bong and used it to recreate the Westminster chimes.

By Food & Wine
November 20, 2018
TangMan Photography/Getty Images

If you happened to be walking through London’s Westminster neighborhood yesterday you might have noticed something a bit peculiar. First, you would have heard the chimes of Big Ben ringing on the hour every hour from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. That, in and amongst itself, wouldn’t be odd, except that, due to renovation work which isn’t set to be done until 2020, the bells have been shut down from regular operation since last year. But even more bizarre, the sounds you would be hearing weren’t the Elizabeth Tower’s normal chimes… No, those were the sounds of the Taco Bell.

On Monday, Taco Bell essentially hijacked Big Ben for a marketing campaign intended to raise awareness of the chain’s first ever London location – set to open later this week. According to Nation’s Restaurant News, the fast-food brand worked with an audio engineer to take Taco Bell’s signature bong and use it to recreate the Westminster chimes. From there, the new musical creation was blasted from speakers placed around the vicinity of the famous tourist location. The sound was apparently specifically masked in a way to make it difficult for people on the street to identify where these strange new chimes were coming from.

“We took an urban camouflage approach, and mounted the speakers on unbranded rickshaws which travelled around the vicinity of Westminster Bridge and Big Ben, sharing the chimes for all to hear,” Taco Bell was quoted as saying.

Taco Bell is actually not new to the U.K.; Brits are already graced with 28 locations across the country. (The one by me in Sheffield even occasionally offers Taco Tuesdays where you can get a taco and a Sol for £2!) However, the popular California-based chain has yet to infiltrate Great Britain’s biggest city. That’s set to change as four new locations are planned in London throughout early next year with the first one arriving this Friday. The company has said these urban outposts will be taking Taco Bell’s “Cantina” approach featuring pints of beer and frozen cocktails in a modern atmosphere with open kitchens. It’s definitely fitting that Taco Bell is going the Cantina route in the always hip city of London – though, at the same time, if you’ve only been to a Taco Bell Cantina, can you really say you’ve been to Taco Bell?

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