This Happened: I Went to a Taco Bell® in Every State
Most people travel to go sightseeing or be immersed in new cultures. But how many people can say they’ve traveled for Taco Bell®? Kevin Freeman definitely can. He’s an engineer from New Mexico whose love for Taco Bell led him on an adventure around the nation, making sure to stop at a Taco Bell in every single state.
We sat down with Kevin to find out more about his incredible journey.
Question: What inspired you to start this project?
Kevin Freeman: I was driving back from a friend’s wedding in Missouri to Texas. This was my first time in Missouri and I was about to move back to New Mexico about three days later. I thought to myself, “… I may never be here again.” Everybody likes to get some form of a memento when they go someplace new and especially to a place they might not return to, so I tried to figure out what my memento would be. Due to my affinity for The Bell®, I figured I’d get photographic proof that I’d been to one over there. Thus began the next two years of my life.
Q: Why Taco Bell?
KF: This was right after I graduated college. Throughout my time in college, I had a reputation for being the Taco Bell guy. It was always a go-to for me; I rarely studied without a Baja Blast™. Junior year I had an entire wall in my apartment dedicated to a Taco Bell menu that I got during a menu-changeover when I worked there the previous summer. It seemed like the most "on brand" thing I could do at the time while also forcing me to get out and travel! I made sure to check to see if there was one in every state, and you bet your buns (or taco shells) there was.
Q: Did you have a go-to order?
KF: There was little consistency in my menu orders, but it did drift a lot towards the $5 Boxes and very specifically towards the 5-Layer Burrito, grilled, with no beans and potatoes added. On the days where I was conveniently up early enough to eat breakfast at its correct time, I couldn’t resist the Breakfast Crunchwrap® with Sausage.
Q: Which Taco Bell was your favorite?
KF: I mean, it’s REALLY hard to top the Cantina on the Vegas Strip, but if there’s one that can, it’s the one in Pacifica directly on the Pacific Ocean. It’s such a cool place to have any dining location, especially a Taco Bell! If you can catch it without the fog, I imagine a sunset would be a real beaut paired with a Chalupa.
Q: What was the best part of this experience?
KF: Traveling and seeing the states, specifically the west. My girlfriend Andrea and I are long-distance, her being in Rhode Island and me being in New Mexico. We’d try to have a plan once a month to see each other, often in a state that we hadn’t gotten to yet, and check out the local scenes, breweries, and national parks. Concerts helped a lot too; Our favorite bands lured us on a 10-hour road trip to Michigan, a 26-state 11-day road trip, then to California, Oregon, New York, and Arizona.
Q: What was the most difficult part of this journey?
KF: I took an 11-day road trip about six months after I started this goal to go see family and friends that encompassed 26 states, starting in New Mexico, rounding out the gulf and east coast to Massachusetts before doubling back through the Midwest. I wasn’t about to make that trip and NOT contribute to the Taco Bell notches. We had to drive up to 12 hours a day. If you look closely at the Kentucky picture, you can see the absolute struggle embodied in my face; I had just driven almost all night starting in Connecticut, hitting a snow storm in Ohio, and then pulled off I-71 into the Taco Bell outside Carrollton and took a two-hour nap. In total, I drove over 32,000 miles and took 23 flights, two trains, and one boat to make this all happen.
Q: Any cool things happen along the way?
KF: Two trips stand out the most for me: Me, Andrea, and our good friends Juan and Joe drove up to the Grand Tetons in Wyoming for the Total Solar Eclipse in 2017. That’s where I got to knock out Wyoming and Idaho! I also lost my wallet and a shoe, but that’s water under the bridge. The second one requires a big shout-out to my friends Stephen and Brooke for actually agreeing to my idea to drive to Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Texas over Labor Day weekend 2017. That was almost four days straight of driving through fields of sunflowers and corn! I had to make a pamphlet of all the sights to see to convince them.
Q: What’s next for you?
KF: Well, I don't think I can retire off of this success, so if anything, I’ll just keep trying to go to as many different Taco Bells as possible. I’ve already knocked out an additional 65 on top of the base 50, so there’s room to improve. I want to get to all of the National Parks and spend some more time in Idaho, California, and Montana.