Thou shalt envy thy neighbor's chain
September 6th, 2011
09:15 AM ET
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Kevin Clark really, really wanted a Meximelt. He longed for the seasoned ground beef, melted three cheese blend and fiesta salsa wrapped in a soft flour tortilla. He craved its melty goodness. The only problem – Kevin was living in Australia where alas, there are no Taco Bells.

So, Kevin thought outside the bun. He’d been corresponding with a friend in the states who’d asked Kevin what he missed the most. After describing his dilemma, he convinced the friend to mail him a Meximelt. Yes, you read that correctly; it was sent in the mail.

Two weeks later a box arrived at Kevin’s doorstep with the coveted food item tucked inside. Given the lack of refrigeration, Kevin did the unthinkable – he ate the taco.

Unfortunately for him, it didn’t live up to the expectations his memory had built, and he was left rather disappointed. He admits he probably shouldn’t have eaten the taco, but credits youthful indiscretion for his bravery. Now chef/owner of the aptly named Atlanta eatery Home Grown (which prides itself on farm-to-table freshness), Kevin’s food philosophy has changed.

It’s a serious condition.

Chain envy has long affected residents of this fine country. The condition is mostly caused by the convenience of getting what we want, when we want it. The thought of not being able to have our favorite food can be terrifying.

Chain envy is usually brought on by a cross country move of some sorts. For example, a West Coast resident newly transplanted to the East Coast might suffer from chain envy upon realizing that In-and-Out Burger cannot be found east of Texas. Or, an East Coast resident might be alarmed to learn that they won’t (yet) be drinking Dunkin' Donuts coffee when visiting the West Coast.

The list of chains unavailable country-wide might surprise you. Some of the most missed include Zaxby’s, Krystal, White Castle, Chick-fil-A, Waffle House, Chuy's and Jack in the Box, among others.

Ignorance is bliss.

If you've never had a warm chicken biscuit from Chick-fil-A on a cold Georgia morning, you wouldn’t know what you’re missing and therefore are not affected by chain envy. The rest are probably plotting ways to either recreate this southern comfort, begging friends to bring you one, or making the two, three or four hour trek to get one yourself. Chain envy can be a serious problem. Thankfully, help is available and you do have options.

If you’re going to get someone to bring you a food item, make sure it’s transported properly. Separate items that need to be refrigerated or that wouldn’t travel well. For example, deconstruct your burger so the lettuce and tomato don’t make the buns soggy and ask for the sauce on the side for the same reason. Remove and refrigerate the patty and then reassemble the burger upon arrival. Most popular single-coast chains are used to requests like this and are happy to help pack your precious cargo.

You can also try making your own version. A simple Google search of your favorite chain restaurant item usually brings up at least one or two forums filled with like-minded people trying to figure out just how much Sriracha goes in zesty mayo. It can be fun to experiment with a group of friends who suffer your same predicament; you can even compete to see who gets the closest to the real thing.

Some food delivery services will go get your favorite North Carolina barbecue and bring it to your home in Tennessee for the right price. Just be sure to check the delivery fee before placing the order.

Chain envy does not always have to leave one in dire straits. While nothing is likely to replace your beloved chain, it’s always a good idea to explore new places. Who knows? You may even develop a brand new obsession.

Previously - Regional favorites may be a click away

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Filed under: Chain • Hungry for Home • Restaurants

soundoff (733 Responses)
  1. Snycheck

    This is EXACTLY how I feel about Sonic.

    September 21, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  2. North Dakota Boy

    Cold Georgia morning? Wait... What?

    September 16, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  3. Tiz

    I know where every Tim Hortons is on the drive From ATL to Michigan. Coffee and TimBits are stocked up on before the last one. Also my mom mails me Timmy Ho's coffee whenever I run out. She also brings a Case of Faygo Rock N Rye with her. And when i fly, i bring a Buddy's pizza with me on the plane.
    She used to pack frozen Coney Sauce for my brother who lives in Boston.

    September 14, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  4. Katie

    After living overseas for 14 years while in the military, I have to admit of craving for certain fast foods. While in the Philippines, we used to drive to the Air Force base just to eat at Burger King! I have missed Seattle's Best, Jack in the Box, Popeyes, Papa Johns, Dunkin Donuts and even Taco Bell. There are still places I miss now that I am back in the mainland US, but they are generally not fast food, like Dixie Grill in Hawaii or sushi shops in Japan!

    September 12, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  5. random

    i used to love certain fast food items 'til i learned how to make them myself at home.. i don't crave for any fast food now cuz my homemade version are tastier/healthier/cleaner lol..... i'd advise most people to do the same. screw paying for overpriced garbage!!

    September 11, 2011 at 2:53 am |
  6. Robert

    Isnt White Castle basicly Krystal's?

    September 8, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • Richard

      Yes and Carl Jr's is just Hardee's with a different name. Heck Carl Jr's and Hardee's are owned by the same company they have to be the same. One thing that I miss after moving away from East Tennessee is Dr. Enuf. Thats a drink if you have never heard of it before, thats fine it only ships about 125 miles away from Johnson City, TN. I have to find a way to buy it online and have it shipped up here. Central Indiana.

      September 8, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  7. Linda

    As a Texan, and stationed overseas in the Philippines, I dreamed of Schlotzskys!!!!! Never want to live that far away from my favorite sandwich again!!

    September 8, 2011 at 2:07 am |
  8. Lisa

    My favorite local chain is Portillo's!! They have the best hot dogs and burgers (when they're made right!) I have had some bad experiences there in the northern Chicago burbs, but I keep coming back for the food. I like that they ship packs of hot dogs with the fixins and packs of beef! I told my husband that if we moved out of state, I would order those packs at least once a month. :)

    September 7, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
  9. None so strange as..

    I've lived all over the country so now I have a fair # of chains from various regions to miss :(
    California Centric: Togos, Super Taqueria, In n Out
    West Coast: Jack in the Box, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
    Texas: Freebirds
    South East: Popeyes, Whataburger, Taco Cabana, Hungry Howies
    South West: Jamba Juice

    No, I'm not the size of a house, but I do like to try out different foods from different chains and restaurants along my travels.

    September 7, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • Hehe101

      Tell me about it. I don't go a day with out wanting:

      Southwest: In 'n Out Burger, Paradise Bakery, Panda Express
      Midwest: Culvers
      Southeast: Chill

      September 7, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
    • Amayda

      In n Out burgers are the best!!!!!

      September 8, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Amy_CK

      Where are you now? A lot of these chains are now national.....I'm in PA and we've got a couple of these.
      Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory is in a outlet mall near me in PA. There are two Popeyes in Pittsburgh and recently a Jamba Juice opened on a college campus.

      September 10, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  10. frank

    First thing I did when I got back from Egypt was go to McDonalds.

    September 7, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  11. joe

    There's no Arby's in/near Rhode Island. When I drive home I have to stop at the ones in Pennsylvania for lunch.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  12. Briana

    I moved to New York five years ago and have been in hell ever since. The extreme distance from Zaxby's has caused me to go crazy. I regularly post on Zaxby's wall about how much I miss them and the things I would do if they would just open up an NYC franchise. I made a tribute video for Zaxby's that they re-posted on Facebook.

    (This is all, of course, to say nothing of my yearning for Sonic, Bojangles, Hardee's, Rush's, etc. ad infinitum)

    September 7, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Stephanie

      Rush's! You must be from SC. Since I moved from there three years ago, Rush's has become a treat that I rarely get!

      September 8, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  13. niki b

    Living on the west coast now, I miss Zaxby's (thanks to your mention!), Moe's SW Grill & Chik-Fil-A. On a layover in Charlotte, NC, a friend met me at the airport w/ a Chick-Fil-A breakfast. Happiness!

    September 7, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • Ronco@niki b

      I am flying into Philly next month and CANNOT wait to hit B/C connection for some Chik Fil a! I have not had it in YEARS

      September 7, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  14. RichardHead

    Not a chain,but still THE Best kept secret in Texas.......Fletcher's Corny Dogs !! Only available during The Great State Fair of Texas and also at Nascar races in Ft.Worth. @ Snowbunny...Only with mustard Baby.....miss you.

    September 7, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  15. Dee

    Fast food is disgusting and is contributing to this country's rapidly growing obesity epidemic. This article is moronic for encouraging people to eat this junk. Why not encourage healthy eating habits, CNN??????

    September 7, 2011 at 8:35 am |
    • Markus

      Why don't you lighten up and eat some fries?

      September 7, 2011 at 8:39 am |
      • Ronco@Markuc

        He doesn't want to, he is still scarred for life cuz he has to ask each customer if "they want fries with that"

        September 7, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • Mala...@Dee

      This is a blog that is food-centric, hence its name "Eatocracy." The overused catch phrase "obesity epidemic" isn't caused by CNN, or any other news site, posting articles about food. What this contributed to was a light-hearted nostalgia for something nice people might be interested in reading about. If you're that easily influenced by what you read, seek help. The so-called obesity epidemic is cause by people who won't get up off their ponderous duffs to exercise.

      If you don't like what's been posted here, maybe you can find a Jog-ocracy or Walk-ocracy in the stfu cafe.

      September 7, 2011 at 8:54 am |
    • RichardHead@Dee

      Another Vegan blowing smoke out of their ass.

      September 7, 2011 at 8:58 am |
    • Truth@Dee

      Let me guess, you are single, never went to your prom, own several cats and have a long list of criteria that your potential dates never seem to meet.

      You must be a freakin joy to be around.

      September 7, 2011 at 9:28 am |
    • Possum

      Hey, actually read the article before puking up your shallow criticism. The guy started a healthyfarm fresh restaurant, "Kevin’s food philosophy has changed," per the article. I don't eat meat and I grow my own vegetables but I love fast food fries and Krispy Kreme donuts. Do I eat them everyday? No. I indulge now and then and maintain a normal height/weight ratio. Every news or interest story does not have to be a lesson. If you want to make a point about fast food and obesity, then, get off your own butt and stand outside the drive through at McDonalds with a mirror, a scale and a sign that asks incoming customers, "R U 2 FAT 2 Graze Here?"

      September 7, 2011 at 10:00 am |
      • Jerv@Possum

        Excellent, thank you Possum!

        September 7, 2011 at 10:03 am |
  16. Josh

    A local hot dog place will actually ship what they call a "doggie pack" to anyone, anywhere. They target parents to buy and ship a "doggie pack" to their home sick college kids.

    September 7, 2011 at 8:29 am |
  17. BigAl

    happened to me. went from west to east cost. couldn't find jack in the box or wienerschnitzels. discovered and liked hardees, had never heard of 'em. now in TX, there aren't any hardees or wieners (in my area)

    September 7, 2011 at 8:25 am |
  18. Nunya

    Not fast food, but certain grocery items yes. Chocolate Malt O Meal is available in the Midwest but not the SF bay area. And I've brought or mailed bagels to some friends who had a particular bagel shop they liked above all others. (House of Bagels)

    September 7, 2011 at 5:22 am |
  19. Nirvana1221

    I have never eaten at Chick-fil-A, but a new location recently opened in Santa Clarita, CA if you happen to pass through and have a hankerin' !

    September 7, 2011 at 2:58 am |
  20. Cynthia

    Recent Las Vegan transplant – my gracious brother and family checked in a cooler filled with kolaches (sausage and cheese) from The Kolache Factory and frozen deboned whole chickens stuffed with rice, crawfish and eggplant from Hebert's in Houston. For those in the hill country in La Grange, TX, Weikel's has awesome kolaches too – fluffy dough and meaty sausage.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:34 am |
  21. Barbara

    I miss Long John Silvers Seafood Shoppes in Utah. There was one years ago on Main Street in SLC. It closed down long ago. I had to go to Vegas on business and finally got a shrimp dinner before I left.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:22 am |
  22. oh please

    dont freaking risk dying thats stupid

    come on....I mean.....COME ON!

    September 7, 2011 at 1:47 am |
    • Daniela

      I'm thinking the same thing. I mean TWO WEEKS and you eat it??? I think that is a form of insanity, not envy.

      September 7, 2011 at 5:56 am |
  23. ATL Native

    When I was in the Navy in the 1980's, I would occasionally have family members mail me an insulated package of frozen Varsity all-the-way dogs. The buns suffered a little from the freeze-thaw phenomenon, but ooooooooweeee! They were such a welcome reminder of home.

    September 7, 2011 at 1:42 am |
    • Ronco@ATLNative

      Whaddaya have, Whaddaya have, Whaddaya have,

      September 7, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
      • john

        love it. please visit

        September 13, 2011 at 1:07 am |
  24. Catherine

    I live in rural Georgia after 30 years in Atlanta. The ONLY fast food we have within 50 miles is a Church's chicken so I miss almost all of them. About once a month, we go to the nearest city and eat out. But there are still some things I miss. There is a small local chain in the Atlanta suburbs called "Martin's" that has the best bisquits I have ever eaten. Tendenloin and scrambled egg on a two-handed bisquit...I can taste it now!

    September 7, 2011 at 1:31 am |
    • Kiel

      Who spells biscuit with a "q?"

      September 7, 2011 at 2:02 am |
      • teeF

        bisquick spells it with a q... probably an honest mistake due to that

        September 7, 2011 at 2:38 am |
      • John Up North

        The manufacturers of "Bisquick" baking mix ?!

        September 7, 2011 at 2:38 am |
      • kuntry bumpkin

        i lik biskitts!

        September 7, 2011 at 9:07 am |
      • lzcobb

        It's a South Ga extended family does the same thing

        September 13, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  25. John

    He got a roaring case of Taco Bowel.

    September 7, 2011 at 1:30 am |
    • Nathan

      I bet he loved the Taco Smell.

      September 7, 2011 at 9:18 am |
  26. AF

    THERE'S NO SONIC IN CLEVELAND! But, we have to endure, day in and day out, multiple Sonic commercials, with happy people eating and laughing and eating their Sonic delectables. I've been to Sonic in KCMO, and I fell in love with the food. I want a Sonic here so badly.

    September 7, 2011 at 1:17 am |
    • Jenn

      I completely agree! Why do they waste their money showing us ads when we can't even buy their food? It's just cruel! ...Now I want a slushie.

      September 7, 2011 at 1:50 am |
    • jp

      There are sonics in Parma and Brunswick. And almost one in Avon but it never got built.

      September 7, 2011 at 8:49 am |
    • RichardHead@AF

      No one in Cleveland knows how to roller skate,hence no Sonic car hops and NO Sonic for you. :)

      September 7, 2011 at 8:52 am |
    • Katie

      They may not have a Sonic right near you, but they do have them throughout Ohio. Hence the reason you probably get commercials for them!

      September 12, 2011 at 11:47 am |
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