Here in Massachusetts we have enough Dunkin’ locations to give Godzilla the coffee shakes. But there are some national chains that have zero presence in the Bay State. For instance, I don’t even know what goes on an In-N-Out Burger. They’re all the rage in Los Angeles so I’ll guess they’re topped with ketchup and mustard and plastic surgeon business cards. Am I right?

Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) Magazine says the 10 most popular fast food chains in the US are: McDonalds, Starbucks, Chik-fil A, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, Dunkin’, Burger King, Subway, Dominos, and Chipotle – in order of popularity from #1 (the most popular) to #10 most popular. Massachusetts has all ten of those – but – dig a little deeper past the Top 10 Most Popular fast food restaurants and we start seeing some gaps, chains that for one reason or another aren’t found in Massachusetts.

The fast-food industry in the United States is a multi-billion dollar market with total annual sales reaching hundreds of billions of dollars. The industry is a major employer in the United States, providing millions of jobs to both part-time and full-time workers. When I started my working career I, like so many, worked at a couple fast food restaurants. I learned a lot working fast food and I was always surprised how much I looked like a wax figure from Madame Tussaud’s when I got home from work due to that layer of grease on my skin.

So what fast food joints do we have to go traveling out-of-state to devour? Peep the list below. And if you’ve tried any of the following restaurants, let us know what you thought! Would you like to see them come to Mass or stay far faaaaarrrrrr away?

  • FIREHOUSE SUBS

    Closest location I could find: North Smithfield, Rhode Island

    With over 1,200 locations, this sandwich shop is all over the country, just not here in Massachusetts. But don’t worry, the folks at Firehouse say “Rest assured there’s a Firehouse coming your way.” So maybe soon?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86K35jnQzGE

  • Krispy Kreme

    Closest location I could find: Mohegan Sun in Connecticut

    Krispy Kreme has been churning out glazed goodness of the donut kind since 1937 in North Carolina. At one point back in the early 2000s, the famous chain did make inroads into Massachusetts, but it didn’t take. (We must love our Dunkin’ way too much!)

  • Steak & Shake

    Closest location I could find: Boardman, Ohio

    The Illinois based chain started in the 1930s. According to their corporate lore, their founder “pioneered” the hamburger and shake combo. But they haven’t made it to the Bay State yet.

  • White Castle

    Closest location I could find: Nanuet, NY or your freezer section but that doesn’t count!!

    Boasting that they’re the first fast food burger chain in the world, White Castle has been serving up sacks of burgers since 1921. Do yourself a favor and road trip down to New York for an authentic White Castle experience. Like we said, the frozen food version doesn’t do it justice.

  • Whataburger

    Closest location I could find: Buford, Georgia

    Starting in Corpus Christi, Texas in the 1950s, Whataburger has over 800 locations, mostly in Texas and the Southern US. It hasn’t made it up here to New England yet though.

  • Hardee's/Carl's Jr

    Closest location I could find: Ripley, New York

    The parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. has over 3,600 franchised or company-operated restaurants in 44 states. One of the half dozen states it doesn’t have a location in? You guessed it, Massachusetts.

  • Jack In the Box

    Closest location I could find: Somewhere in North Carolina

    Mostly on the West Coast, Jack in the Box first opened its doors in 1951. With over 2,200 locations nationwide, while mostly out west, Jack in the Box franchises have popped up in major urban areas across the country, just not Boston.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veo9JmgB0qk

  • Zaxby's

    Closest location I could find: Athens, Georgia

    A relatively “new” fast food chain, Zaxby’s was founded in 1990 in Georgia. It has just under 1,000 locations nationwide now, mostly in the Southeastern US. They did recently open up a couple of locations in Utah, but nothing close to us here in Massachusetts yet.

  • Bojangles

    Closest location I could find: Quakertown, Pennsylvania

    This cajun style fried chicken joint is a staple of North Carolina. Opened in the 1970s, Bojangles is mostly in the South with some locations overseas, and planned expansions as far north as New Jersey. Just not here yet.

  • Roy Rogers

    Closest location I could find: Pattersonville, New York

    One of the smaller chains on this list, Roy Rogers only has 41 locations. They’re spread across 7 states, mostly in the Mid Atlantic. Where they are not, is Massachusetts.

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