25 Iconic Hamburger Spots You Have to Visit

Adam Wilson, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND-2.0
Adam Wilson, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND-2.0

Hamburgers are ubiquitous on menus across the country, but not all restaurants treat burgers with the reverence they deserve. Whether you prefer simple beef patties, loaded bacon cheeseburgers, or plant-based veggie burgers, we've got something for you. From historic fast-food joints to fancy eateries, check out these 25 iconic hamburger spots you have to visit.

1. H&F Burger // Atlanta, Georgia

cheeseburger at H&F Burger
Wally Gobetz, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Originally, the H&F Burger was a special at Atlanta gastropub Holeman and Finch, served only after 10 p.m. Because the kitchen only made two dozen of the burgers each night, just a few customers got the chance to sink their teeth into the juicy, buttery burgers. Today, though, burger lovers can order the H&F Burger—two beef patties with American cheese, red onions, and house-made pickles and ketchup—any time of day at its own Ponce City Market location, without worrying about the kitchen running out of grub.

2. Amy's Drive Thru // Rohnert Park, California

Amy's Drive Thru
Tony Webster, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Located north of San Francisco near the 101 Freeway, Amy's Drive Thru serves organic, vegetarian fast food from scratch. Opened in 2015 by the owners of natural foods company Amy's Kitchen, the drive-through has quickly become one of the most popular spots for veggie burgers. Try 'The Amy,' a double veggie patty with cheese and secret sauce, and wash it down with an organic chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry milkshake.

3. The Oldest McDonald's // Downey, California

Photo of the original McDonald's location in Downey, California.
Thomas Hawk, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Even burger elitists can’t deny the impact that McDonald's has had on the international fast food scene. Located in Southern California, the oldest surviving McDonald's opened in the summer of 1953, almost a decade before Ray Kroc bought the company from the McDonald brothers. Because this location remained an independent restaurant until 1990, when Kroc finally acquired it, its exterior looks slightly different than a regular McDonald's (for example, there's only a single golden arch rather than the instantly recognizable double Golden Arches). But in terms of food, customers can order typical McDonald’s burgers and fries, as well as a deep-fried (rather than baked) apple pie. The store also has an impressive collection of McDonald’s ads, toys, and other memorabilia.

4. Shake Shack // New York City

Burgers at Shake Shack in New York City
Lucas Richards, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If you've walked through New York City's Madison Square Park, you've no doubt noticed the long line of people waiting for burgers and frozen custard. In the early aughts, restaurateur Danny Meyer served hot dogs from a cart in the park before morphing his business into Shake Shack in 2004. Today, there are over 100 Shake Shack locations around the world, and hungry customers enjoy chomping down on the ShackBurger, a 100 percent all-natural Angus beef burger (sans hormones and antibiotics) on a non-GMO potato roll. Vegetarians usually order the 'Shroom Burger, an impressive heaping of portobello mushroom with melted cheddar and Muenster.

5. Jim's Drive In // Lewisburg, West Virginia

a cheeseburger with ranch dressing
iStock/prapassong

At Jim's Drive In, the no-frills décor and simple food facilitate time travel, as you step back to a simpler era when curb-side service and drive-in movies were common. Located on Route 60, the restaurant has satisfied West Virginians' stomachs and taste buds since the early 1950s. Today, you can order a variety of burgers such as the bacon cheeseburger, pizza burger, or Famous Ranch Burger.

6. Town Topic // Kansas City, Missouri

Town Topic Hamburgers in Kansas City, Missouri
Chris Murphy, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Back in 1937, Town Topic was a small diner in downtown Kansas City that sold burgers for just a nickel. Today, the restaurant honors its culinary history by making burgers the same way as when they started—beef patties, grilled onions, and steamed buns. And you can order a single hamburger for just shy of three dollars. Still a great deal.

7. The Cherry Cricket // Denver, Colorado

The Cherry Cricket in Denver
Tadson Bussey, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Opened in 1945, The Cherry Cricket has become so legendary that not even a major fire in late 2016 could keep patrons away. After a temporary closure, the burger and beer spot reopened in April 2017, and happy customers could once again order the popular Cricket Burger. No insects are used, fortunately; rather, it's a Black Angus chuck patty masterpiece, complete with bacon, an over-easy egg, American cheese, and sautéed onions. They also have build-your-own options, starting with a beef, turkey, bison, or black bean burger. Toppings include everything from cream cheese or peanut butter to candied bacon and jalapeño jelly.

8. Sid's Diner // El Reno, Oklahoma

Sid's Diner
peggydavis66, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Located outside of Oklahoma City, Sid's Diner is famous for its Fried Onion Burger, a one-pound patty with caramelized onions cooked into the beef. The restaurant is known to make its own spatulas out of brick trowels (which are typically used to lay mortar between bricks). Sid's takes the wedged knife end of the trowel and fuses it to a spatula, allowing chefs to flatten the top of each beef patty and press a handful of thinly sliced Spanish onions down into the meat.

9. Schuberg's Bar // Big Rapids, Michigan

hamburger with onion rings and barbeque sauce
iStock/grandriver

In the late 19th century, Leonard (later renamed Big Rapids) was a town full of lumberjacks, thanks to the plentiful forests. Schuberg's Bar served drinks to the locals, and over a century later, it's now an iconic spot for hamburgers. The original Schu-Burger is a 1/3-pound chargrilled patty, topped with cheese, onion, pickles, green olives, ketchup, and mustard. For a more tangy twist on the Schu-Burger, try the Cowboy Schu, which comes with barbecue sauce and onion rings.

10. The Apple Pan // Los Angeles

The Apple Pan in Los Angeles, California
Larry Gaynor, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND-2.0

Los Angelinos craving authentic diner fare and a taste of old Hollywood head to The Apple Pan in West L.A. Since 1947, the restaurant has served simple hamburgers and classic pies to customers who sit in seats (there are only 26) around the small counter. A favorite of celebrities like Warren Beatty and the Jonas Brothers, The Apple Pan still serves its burgers wrapped in paper.

11. Mallie's Sports Grill & Bar // Southgate, Michigan

At Mallie's Sports Grill & Bar, bigger is always better. Although the restaurant serves regular half-pound burgers, their claim to fame is the 10-Pound Monster Burger. Brave customers who succeed in the Monster Challenge—eating the whole burger in under two hours—get $100 and their photo put on the restaurant's wall of fame. Not a bad way to spend a couple of hours.

12. Hudson's Hamburgers // Coeur D'Alene, Idaho

Sign at Hudson's Hamburgers
aaron, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Founded in 1907, Hudson's Hamburgers is a family-owned diner famous for its hamburgers and cheeseburgers. Hudson's eschews culinary trends that call for adding avocado or other more esoteric ingredients to burgers. Why mess with perfection? Although the burgers are simple creations, they come with spicy sauces and, if you want, hand-sliced pickles. Pro tip? If you play your cards right, you could get a burger and a slice of French Silk Pie for under $5.

13. Go Ramen Go Life // Long Island City, New York

ramen burger
iStock/Rimma_Bondarenko

Hybrid food lovers can enjoy the novel tastes and textures of sushi burritos, spaghetti doughnuts, and of course, ramen burgers. Japanese-American chef Keizo Shimamoto introduced the Original Ramen burger in 2013. Although there have been numerous copycats, you can find the original ramen burger—in all of its savory, salty, meaty glory—at Go Ramen Go Life. Crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, the noodles are boiled and formed into buns, and a USDA Prime ground beef chuck patty along with vegetables, scallions, and a shoyu glaze round out the perfect burger.

14. DB Bistro Moderne // Miami, Florida

Gourmet burgers are a specialty at this bistro in the JW Marriott Marquis hotel (there are also locations in Manhattan and Singapore). The Original db Burger will set you back $35, but it's worth every penny. First, the chef braises short ribs for six to eight hours in red wine, stuffs them inside a sirloin burger composed of seven different cuts of meat, and lines a layer of foie gras in the burger. Then, he adds half a plump tomato, grated horseradish, and chicory. Finally, he spreads Dijon mustard on the bottom bun, which is finished with cheddar and onion seeds. Absolutely decadent and delicious.

15. The Pantry // Santa Fe, New Mexico

Sign at The Pantry in Santa Fe, New Mexico
Tadson Bussey, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

This family-owned restaurant has made Southwestern-inspired American diner food since 1948. The Pantry is legendary for its Tortilla Burger, which includes a chargrilled burger patty and pinto beans wrapped in a flour tortilla. Melted cheese and a pureed red chili sauce top it off, so grab plenty of napkins.

16. Louis' Lunch // New Haven, Connecticut

Louis' Lunch exterior in New Haven, Connecticut
Adam Jones, Flickr // CC BY SA-2.0

Louis Lassen opened Louis' Lunch in 1895, and his great-grandson continues to enchant customers with the famous hamburger sandwich. The patties, a mixture of five types of meat, are hand-rolled and cooked in cast-iron, 1890s grills. Cheese, onion, and tomato round out the burger—you can truly taste history in each bite.

17. Matt's Bar // Minneapolis, Minnesota

Why put cheese on top of a burger when you can put it inside? Minneapolis residents know all about the Juicy Lucy, a hamburger with gooey cheese conveniently stuffed inside the beef patty. Matt's Bar is one of the restaurants that claim to have invented the cheesy burgers—theirs is spelled Jucy Lucy. Order one and you're in for a seriously liquidy, savory treat.

18. The Griddle // Winnemucca, Nevada

Sign for The Griddle restaurant
Roadsidepictures, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

A big blue neon sign greets customers who drive up to The Griddle. Inside, wood paneling and comfy green booths create the ideal vibe to enjoy some seriously good burgers. Although tons of people flock there for breakfast, The Griddle's burger selection is seriously impressive. Options include the Jamaican Jerk Burger, a ground chuck patty with chipotle mayo, and the Quinoa Burger, a quinoa patty with Swiss cheese and maple caramelized onions.

19. In-N-Out Burger // Baldwin Park, California

In-N-Out Burger
Adam Wilson, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND-2.0

In 1948, when Harry Snyder opened the first In-N-Out location in the San Gabriel Valley, he unknowingly started a burger revolution. The drive-thru hamburger stand differentiated itself from the competition by serving fresh meat and produce, made to order and made by hand. Snyder also introduced the two-way speaker box, allowing customers to order food without exiting their cars. Although there are now hundreds of In-N-Out stores across the southwest and west coast, you can visit a replica of the first restaurant in Baldwin Park. After you look at photos and learn about the legendary fast food company's history, head down the street to another In-N-Out, where you can chow down on a Double-Double and animal style fries.

20. Dyer's Burgers // Memphis, Tennessee

Inside of Dyer's Burgers
Memphis CVB, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Located across from Handy Park, Dyer's Burgers has been a legendary burger spot since it opened in 1912. Beef patties are fried in a top-secret cooking grease, which imparts a rich flavor and pleasant juiciness to the burger. Order Dyer's Triple Triple, a burger composed of three patties, three slices of cheese, onions, pickle, and mustard.

21. Matt's Place Drive-In // Butte, Montana

peanut butter on a hamburger
iStock/LauriPatterson

Back in 1930, Matt Korn opened a drive-in that he named, straightforwardly, Matt's Place. In 1943, Korn sold his drive-in to a former carhop employee and her husband. Today, their daughter and her husband run the restaurant and stay true to its roots, with a soda fountain and authentic '50s Coca-Cola machine on display. Their most famous burger, the Nutburger, is a beef patty topped with a spread of—wait for it—crushed peanuts and Miracle Whip. Once you try it, you'll immediately understand its appeal.

22. The Plant // San Francisco, California

Veggie burger at The Plant.

There are multiple locations of The Plant around San Fran, and that's a very good thing. The organic café serves delicious organic food, and the Plant Burger might just convince carnivores to consider opting for a more plant-based diet. The veggie burger looks purple thanks to a mixture of beets, lentils, mushrooms, cashews, and bulgur wheat. Seasonal local produce (lettuce, tomato, and onions) top the patty, and gluten-free bread is available upon request.

23. All-American Drive-In // Massapequa, New York

All-American Drive-In Diner
Adam Kuban, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Opened in 1963, this old-fashioned drive-in hamburger stand on Long Island serves classic, simple American fare. Hometown favorites Jerry Seinfeld and the Baldwin family visit the stand regularly for the savory double cheeseburgers and homemade French fries, but a simple hamburger will set you back just $1.40. Save room for dessert at the neighboring Marshall's Ice Cream Bar, which has both soft serve and old-fashioned ice cream.

24. The Chicago Diner // Chicago, Illinois

Vegan burgers at the Chicago Diner.
Beth Granter, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Vegetarians and carnivores alike love the veggie burgers at The Chicago Diner, a restaurant with locations in Logan Square and Halsted that’s been proudly "meat free since '83." As you sip a vegan milkshake, decide whether you want to order the Cajun Black Bean Burger or Buddha’s Karma Burger, a curried sweet potato-tofu patty. The burgers come with unusual toppings such as grilled pineapple, chimichurri, and fried jalapeño. For an extra buck, you can add avocado to any burger.

25. JG Melon // New York, New York

burger sliders
iStock/coldsnowstorm

This casual, small bar on Manhattan's Upper East Side is beloved for the rich, meaty burgers it serves. Fans of JG Melon's cheeseburger include everyone from Bobby Flay to former mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the spot is often crowded as hungry customers vie for a seat amidst the watermelon artwork on the walls (expect plenty of crowding when they open their recently announced Upper West Side location too). If you visit during happy hour, from 5-7 p.m., order the Nacho Libre sliders, which are served with avocado, jalapeño, Monterey Jack, and pico de gallo.

14 Secrets of McDonald's Employees

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images
Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

While there’s virtually no end to the number of fast food options for people seeking a quick meal, none have entered the public consciousness quite like McDonald’s. Originally a barbecue shop with a limited menu when it was founded by brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald in the 1940s, the Golden Arches have grown into a franchised behemoth with more than 36,000 locations worldwide.

Staffing those busy kitchens and registers are nearly 2 million McDonald's employees. To get a better idea of what many consider to be the most popular entry-level job in the nation—staff members on the floor make an average of $9 an hour—we asked several workers to share details of their experiences with errant ice cream machines, drive-through protocols, and special requests. Here’s what they had to say about life behind the counter.

1. McDonald's employees can't always deliver fast food all that fast.

While McDonald’s and other fast-service restaurants pride themselves on getting customers on their way, some menu items just don’t lend themselves to record service times. According to Bob, an assistant store manager at a McDonald’s in the Midwest, pies take an average of 10 to 12 minutes to prepare; grilled chicken, 10 minutes; and biscuits for Egg McMuffins, eight to 10 minutes. In the mood for something light, like a grilled chicken and salad? That will take a few minutes, too. Bob says salads are pre-made with lettuce but still need to have chicken and other ingredients added.

The labor-intensive nature of assembling ingredients is part of why the chain has more recently shied away from menu items with too many ingredients. “We are trained to go as fast down the line as we can, and if we have to stop to make something that has 10 ingredients, it tends to slow things down,” Bob tells Mental Floss. “Corporate has realized this and has taken many of these items off in recent years, [like] McWraps, Clubhouse, more recently the Smokehouse and mushroom and Swiss and moved to items that can go a lot quicker.”

2. McDonald's workers wish you’d stop asking for fries without salt.

A serving of McDonald's French fries is pictured
Joerg Koch, AFP/Getty Images

A common “trick” for customers seeking fresh fries is to ask for them without salt. The idea is that fries that have been under a heating lamp will already be salted and that the employee in the kitchen will need to put down a new batch in the fryer. This does work, but customers can also just ask for fresh fries. It’s less of a hassle and may even save employees some discomfort.

“People can ask for fresh fries and it's actually way easier to do fresh fries rather than no-salt fries,” Andy, an employee who’s worked at three different McDonald’s locations in the Midwest, tells Mental Floss. “For those, we have to pour the fries onto a tray from the fryer so they don't come in contact with salt. It can get awkward sometimes getting everything into position, especially if you have a lot of people working in close proximity and it's busy, so I've had some scalded hands a couple of times trying to get fries out in a timely way.”

3. McDonald's workers have to pay careful attention to the order of ingredients.

McDonald’s is pretty specific about how their burgers and other items are supposed to be assembled, with layers—meat, cheese, sauce—arranged in a specific order. If they mess it up, customers can notice. “In some cases it has a big impact,” Sam, a department manager and nine-year veteran of the restaurant in Canada, tells Mental Floss. “Like placing the cheese between the patties with a McDouble. If they don’t put the cheese between the patties, the cheese won’t melt.”

4. There’s a reason McDonald’s employees ask you to park at the drive-through.

A McDonald's customer pulls up to the drive-thru window
Tim Boyle, Getty Images

After ordering at the drive-through window, you may be slightly puzzled when a cashier asks you to pull into one of the designated parking spots. That’s because employees are measured on how quickly they process cars at the drive-through. If your order is taking a long time to prepare, they’ll take you out of the queue to keep the line moving. “My store has sensors in the drive-through that actually tell us exactly how long you are at each spot in the drive-through,” Bob says. “We get measured based on something we call OEPE. Order end, present end. [That measures] from the second that your tires move from the speaker until your back tires pass over the sensor on the present window. My store is expected to be under two minutes.” If an order will take longer than that, you'll be asked to park.

5. The McDonald's drive-through employees can hear everything going on in your car.

While the quality of the speakers at a drive-through window can vary, it’s best to assume employees inside the restaurant can hear everything happening in your car even before you place an order. “The speaker is activated by the metal in the car, so as soon as you drive up, the speaker turns on in our headset,” Andy says. “We can hear everything, and I do mean everything. Loud music, yelling at your kids to shut up, etc.”

6. The employees at McDonald’s like their regulars.

Customers eat inside of a McDonald's with an order of French fries in the foreground
Chris Hondros, Getty Images

With hot coffee, plenty of tables, Wi-Fi, and newspapers, McDonald’s can wind up being a popular hang-out for repeat customers. “[We have] a ton of regulars who come into my store,” Bob says. “I'd say at least 75 percent of my daily customers know us all by name and we know them all, too. It makes it nice and makes the service feel a lot more personal when a customer can walk into my location, and we can look them in the eye and say, ‘Hey Mark! Getting the usual today?’ and we've already started making his coffee exactly how he takes it.”

7. McDonald’s staff get prank calls.

Unless they’re trying to cater an event, customers usually don’t have any reason to phone a McDonald’s. When the phone rings, employees brace themselves. In addition to sometimes being asked a legitimate question like when the store closes, Sam says his store gets a lot of prank calls. “Sometimes it’s people asking about directions to Wendy’s,” he says. “A lot of inappropriate ones. Most are pretty lame.”

8. For a McDonald’s worker, the ice cream machine is like automated stress.

A McDonald's customer is handed an ice cream cone at the drive-thru window
iStock/jax10289

The internet is full of stories of frustrated McDonald’s customers who believe the chain’s ice cream machines are always inoperable. That’s not entirely true, but the machine does experience a lot of downtime. According to Bob, that’s because it’s always in need of maintenance. “The thing is, it is a very sensitive machine,” he says. “It's not made to be making 50 cones in a row, or 10 shakes at a time. It takes time for the mix to freeze to a proper consistency. It also requires a daily heat mode, [where] the whole machine heats up to about 130 degrees or so. The heat mode typically takes about four hours to complete, so you try to schedule it during the slowest time.” Stores also need to take the machine entirely apart every one to two weeks to clean it thoroughly.

Bob adds that the machine’s O-rings can crack or tear, rendering the unit inoperable. Seasoned workers can tell if a unit is faulty by the consistency of the shakes or ice cream coming out, and sometimes by the noises it makes.

9. McDonald's employees don't mind if you order a grilled cheese.

Contrary to rumor, there’s no “secret menu” at McDonald’s. But that doesn’t mean you can’t sometimes snag something not listed on the board. Andy says a lot of people order a grilled cheese sandwich. “I've made many a grilled cheese before,” he says. But it’s not without consequences. “Sometimes it can get a bit risky doing it because the bun toaster wasn't designed to make grilled cheeses so sometimes you get some burnt buns or cheese or the cheese sticks inside and it slows down the other buns from getting out on time so that causes more burnt buns.”

Another common request is for customers to ask for a McDouble dressed as a Big Mac, with added Big Mac sauce and shredded lettuce. “I think [it’s] a way more practical way to eat a Big Mac since there's less bun in the way, and it's also way cheaper even if you do get charged for Mac sauce.”

10. McDonald’s workers recommend always checking your order.

A McDonald's employee serves an order
Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Nothing stings worse than the revelation that an employee has forgotten part of your food order. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not because the employees are being lazy or inattentive. According to Bob, it’s simply due to the volume of customers a typical location has to process in a given day. “We are human,” he says. “Mistakes do happen. We always feel terrible when they do but when we serve 1000-plus people a day, it's bound to happen.”

Bob recommends checking your bag before leaving the restaurant and not taking it personally if there’s an issue. “Be nice to us if you have a problem,” he says. “It's a huge difference between coming to us and saying, ‘Hey, I seem to be missing a fry from my bag,’ and ‘You bastards didn't give me my fries!’” If you want to check your bag at the drive-through, though, he recommends trying to pull ahead so cars behind you can move forward.

11. McDonald's employees don't recommend the grilled chicken.

If a menu item isn’t all that popular, it can wind up experiencing a low rate of turnover. Of all the food at McDonald’s, the most neglected might be the grilled chicken. Because it doesn't move quickly, workers find that it can turn unappetizing in a hurry. “That stuff has a supposed shelf life of 60 minutes in the heated cabinet, but it dries out so quickly that even if it's within an acceptable time frame, it looks like burnt rubber, and probably tastes like it, too,” Andy says.

12. Golden Arches employees aren’t crazy about Happy Meal collectors.

A McDonald's Happy Meal is pictured
David Morris, Getty Images

Happy Meals are boxed combos that come with a toy inside. Usually, it’s tied into some kind of movie promotion. That means both Happy Meal collectors and fans of a given entertainment property can swarm stores looking for the product. “The biggest pain involving the Happy Meals is the people who collect them,” Bob says. “I personally hate trying to dig through the toys looking for one specific one. We usually only have one to three toys on hand. It's especially a pain in the butt during big toys events such as the Avengers one we just had. There was like 26 different toys, and some customers get really mad when you don't have the one that they want.”

And no, employees don’t usually take home leftover toys. They’ve saved for future use as a substitute in case a location runs out of toys for their current promotion.

13. McDonald's employees can’t mess with Monopoly.

The McDonald’s Monopoly promotion has been a perennial success for the chain, with game pieces affixed to drink cups and fry containers. But if you think employees spend their spare time peeling the pieces off cups looking for prizes, think again. Following a widely-publicized scandal in 2000 that saw an employee of the company that printed the pieces intercepting them for his own gain, the chain has pretty strict rules about the promotion. “Monopoly pieces and things like them get sent back to corporate,” Bob says. “We aren't allowed to touch them, open them, or redeem them as employees.”

14. One McDonald's worker admits there have been sign mishaps.

A McDonald's sign is pictured
Tim Boyle, Getty Images

Many McDonald’s locations sport signs under the arches advertising specials or promotions. Some are analog, with letters that need to be mounted and replaced. Others have LED screens. Either way, there can be mistakes. “I've never seen anyone mess around with the letters,” Andy says. “But I do remember one time we were serving the Angus Burgers and the ‘G’ fell off of the word ‘Angus.’ Good times.”

The Reason Why It's Technically Against State Rules to Sell LaCroix in Massachusetts

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images
Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

No one is quite certain what goes into LaCroix (“La-croy”), the carbonated water that’s become a popular alternative to soft drinks. The zero-calorie beverage comes in several distinctive fruit flavors that the drink’s parent company, National Beverage, has described as being derived from “natural essence oils.” That highly secretive process is believed to be the result of heating fruits and vegetables, then making a concentrate out of the vapor.

To try and crack the mystery, Consumer Reports recently approached officials in Massachusetts with a public records request for documentation relating to LaCroix. Massachusetts is one of the few states requiring manufacturers of carbonated water to obtain a permit and submit water quality tests to sell their product.

The verdict? Consumer Reports still isn’t quite sure what goes into LaCroix. But it might be technically against state regulations to sell it in Massachusetts. That’s because the state has no records on file for the mystery refreshment.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health could not find a permit for LaCroix, and there were no water quality test results on hand, either. Without those documents, the drink should technically not be for sale in the state. After noticing the oversight, Massachusetts sent a request to National Beverage for the necessary information. If the company fails to comply, the state could end up fining them or banning the sale of the drink. A spokesperson for National Beverage told Consumer Reports the company intended to comply with the request.

Why does the state need any information at all? Thanks to some bureaucratic quibbling, carbonated water products are treated differently than bottled water by regulatory agencies. The Food and Drug Administration considers carbonated beverages like seltzer and flavored sparkling water to fall under the heading of soft drinks. While the FDA mandates certain manufacturing standards for those drinks, it doesn’t apply the same rules as it does for bottled water, which is expected to adhere to strict rules about contaminants and quality testing. That leaves certain states like Massachusetts to conduct their own quality assessments.

There’s no guarantee that such testing will divulge LaCroix’s secret to their flavoring process, which is likely to remain a mystery.

[h/t Food & Wine]

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