As a beloved late-night haunt and purveyor of the quintessential fourth meal, Taco Bell stands out among competition in the fast-food industry by straying away from the traditional burgers-and-fries model. In fact, that was founder Glenn Bell’s exact vision when he started selling tacos from his hamburger and hot dog stand in San Bernardino, Calif., in 1951 — and as a way of seducing customers from the McDonald’s original location, located just two miles down the street. In 1962, the very first Taco Bell opened in Downey, Calif., in a miniscule 20-foot by 20-foot building.
Today, there are over 15,000 Taco Bell locations across the United States dishing out now-famous menu items like the Beefy Crunch Burrito and the Crunchwrap Supreme. Love for the chain has also blossomed outside the borders of the U.S. with a total of over 55,000 locations worldwide.
Largely driving the chain’s success is its history of clever marketing, which often entails handing out millions of free tacos. These signature giveaways started in 2001 when the company promised everyone in the nation a free hardshell taco if the core of Mir, a Soviet Space Station, hit a floating Taco Bell target the company placed in the Pacific Ocean. Though the offer was met with much anticipation, Mir unfortunately missed its target. Six years later, the company launched the still-active “Steal a Base, Steal a Taco” initiative to kick off its iconic partnership with Major League Baseball, which promises one free taco per person for every base stolen during the World Series each year. The brand has further cemented itself into the American food zeitgeist through now-staple collaborations with brands like Mountain Dew and Doritos, which gave rise to the beloved Baja Blast and Doritos Locos Tacos, respectively.
Perhaps the most exciting moment in Taco Bell’s history was the opening of the very first Taco Bell Cantina in Chicago. Unlike typical locations, Taco Bell Cantinas offer beer, wine, sangria, and alcoholic versions of the restaurant’s classic drinks — Baja Blast included. Today, the Cantina chain has expanded with approximately 30 locations nationwide.
Curious to know how many Taco Bells are near you? Read on to discover which states have the most Taco Bells and see how your home state compares to others across the country.
The Number of Taco Bells by State
|State||Number of Taco Bells|
|District of Columbia||3|
*Image sourced from Joaquin Corbalan – stock.adobe.com