This hamburger chain doesn’t have the brand recognition or global footprint of McDonald’s, but it is a beloved regional chain in California and the Southwest. Founded in California in 1948, In-N-Out Burger has worked to create a loyal following with fresh ingredients for a menu that focuses on quality over quantity. In an era that sees fast food chains offering an ever growing list of choices, In-N-Out has stubbornly stuck to its basic menu of burger, fries and shakes. Customers can modify their orders with a couple of off the menu variations. This family owned business is a tasty treat we love.
10. Monkey Style
If you are a fan of In-N-Out Burger you may know that the family owned fast food chain offers a “secret menu” for customers in the know. Much of the secret menu is common knowledge, such as the animal style burger: a mustard grilled patty with added pickle, extra spread and grilled onions. However, there is also a slightly more secret “secret menu” that is a little more obscure. For example, the Monkey Style burger consists of an order animal style fries served on top of a hamburger. This item is apparently for those customers who like their fries on their burger instead of with it. However, there is a catch to ordering a Monkey Style burger. The catch is that the In-N-Out kitchen crew will gladly make the burger and the animal style fries for you, but you’ll have to put the two great tastes together to complete the monkey style madness before enjoying your secret menu selection. Some customers are annoyed that they have to take this extra step themselves. The restaurant chain is firm on this point, although it is not clear exactly what the reason is.
9. Simply The Best
In 2017 In-N-Out Burger, the California based fast food chain won bragging rights because of a vote proclaimed it to have the best burger in America. Voters on the popular site Ranker.com chose In-N-Out over several other burger chains including Five Guys, and Whataburger. In California In-N-Out is a somewhat revered company so it would perhaps be more understandable if the poll was just California customers. Business Insider took exception to Ranker’s poll; the magazine was adamant that In-N-Out burgers are good, but a little overrated. As a resident of California, this might be a form of heresy, but I agree with Business Insider that the highly regarded chain’s burgers are a little overrated. I thin strong loyalty to the brand and a bit of nostalgia combined to give In-N-Out a boost in the poll. Although the chain’s burgers are certainly fresh and tasty, the truth is I prefer flamed broiled burgers like the ones you find at Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s and Burger King. Like most burger lovers, I enjoy the whole In-N-Out experience and I won’t turn down a Double Double if I’m offered one, but In-N-Out isn’t usually my go to choice when I’m in the mood for a big hunk of beef. I do appreciate the experience of visiting an In-N-Out because of the friendly, well trained employees and the fresh fries made-to-order as you watch.
8. Fresh Food Quickly
Fast food chains are probably most known for pushing food out to their customers quickly using efficient food preparation techniques. This process doesn’t necessarily result in the best tasting food you can buy, but when you want a meal fast you don’t go to the Cheesecake Factory. Some chains do a better job than others of balancing convenience and the quality of their food. In-N-Out prides itself on using fresh ingredients and preparing all meals to order instead of using frozen foods and allowing burgers and fries to sit under heat lamps waiting to be sold. While waiting for your order at an In-N-Out you can watch the kitchen staff slicing up fresh whole potatoes before deep frying them for waiting customers. For fans of the California-based fast food chain the extra wait is well worth it to get fresh, tasty burgers and fries. It’s still fast food, but it’s just done a little bit better than most of the competition is willing to do it. The fact that In-N-Out isn’t quite as fast as some of the competition is one of the things customers love about their favorite burger chain. The chain’s loyal customers know from experience that the made-to-order meals are worth the wait and it keeps them coming back for more. It’s one of the things we love about In-N-Out.
7. Keep It Simple
In this era of ever expanding fast food menus that try to cater to every taste In-N-Out Burger has steadfastly stuck to its basic menu. This burger chain was founded in 1945, but its menu still consists of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fries, sodas and shakes. Just to cover all its bases the chain also serves coffee and hot chocolate. Compare this limited list of fast food staples with the encyclopedic menus at some of the popular fast food chains. Taco chains that sell burgers and burger chains that sell tacos don’t make sense to the owners of In-N-Out. They strongly believe in the principle of quality over quantity. The company’s success has come from its loyal customers responding to quality burgers and fries. This is mostly why people go to fast food restaurants – to get the tastiest burgers and fries they can get. In-N-Out concentrates on this and leaves the pizza and nuggets to others. Most In-N-Out customers really aren’t interested in In-N-Out chicken sandwiches or quesadillas because they can get those items somewhere. The chain offers milkshakes made with real ice-cream in vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. The “secret menu” allows you to order a Neapolitan milkshake that combines the three flavors as well as variations of the burgers. A 4×4 is four patties and four slices of cheese, protein style is a patty wrapped in lettuce. These “secret” items are actually just special requests instead of items listed on the regular menu.
6. Service With A Smile
Apple and Facebook are two companies known for treating their employees generously, but according to some surveys In-N-Out Burger beats them both. While its true workers at the fast food chain are paid well, their satisfaction comes from more than money. The chain’s employees tend to say that they find their work more rewarding and challenging than their counterparts at the big chain restaurants. These positive experiences have tended to make In-N-Out employees more loyal to the company than is usually the case in the high turnover fast food industry. In-N-Out has been able to maintain a fairly family owned/small business culture at its restaurants despite recent efforts to expand into other markets. This is in contrast to some of the big burger chains with big corporate cultures to match. Employees at In-N-Out like to see themselves more as part of a family or a small team than a group of nameless cogs in a giant corporate machine. This social dynamic mirrors the different ways In-N-Out Burger and its competitors produce their food. In-N-Out continues to be committed to serving fresh cooked-to-order burgers and fries to a relatively small client base while the big burger chains have long embraced more of an assembly line approach to serving millions of customers all around the world.
5. Float Your Root Beer Boat
Many of the items on In-N-Out’s “secret menu” are widely known to customers such as the animal style burgers and fries and the 4×4 burger. However, there are some lesser known items that actually are a bit more of a “secret.” The In-N-Out root beer float is one of these items, but it’s really a no brainer isn’t it? The burger chain sells root beer and it sells vanilla milkshakes so it seems inevitable that at some point these two delicious treats would be combined into one even better treat. Well, this is exactly what happened. Some In-N-Out customers have described this root beer float as more of a root beer milkshake than a traditional float yo might have made at home because it is made, not with a scoop of ice cream, but with a small amount of the chain’s real ice cream vanilla milkshake. Describe this delicious treat any way you like, but the fact is the In-N-Out root beer float is a good reason to love In-N-Out – a customer friendly burger chain willing to do a little extra for its customers. It might be possible to get the root beer float with either the chocolate or the strawberry milkshake if vanilla doesn’t float your boat. If you don’t like root beer you might be able to get a Coke float with one of the milkshake flavors.
4. Going Off Menu With A 4×4
The 4×4 burger at In-N-Out is exactly what it sounds like: four beef patties and four slices of cheese on a bun. This burger is one of the most popular items on the popular burger chain’s “secret” menu. The patties are fairly small so its not quite an obscene amount of food, but you’d better bring a healthy appetite if you intend to take on this substantial burger. Four patties stacked on a bun can be a little unwieldy and have extra napkins handy because all this cheese and spread can get messy. But once you accept the idea that you’re going to get a little greasy you’ll enjoy the 4×4 in the spirit its intended and it clearly seems intended to appeal to people who are intent on proving that a regular burger or even a Double-Double just aren’t enough to satisfy their carnivorous craving for In-N-Out burgers. But if you feel like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew in one sitting after ordering a 4×4 burger you can always divide the sandwich into a pair of Double-Doubles minus a top bun of course. This way you’ll get two smaller, more manageable meals out of the one hefty 4×4 burger.
3. Last Stand Of The 100×100
In-N-Out’s 100×100 burger has become something of a legend in the fast food community. Some people think it is just a tale told by hungry kids with too much time on their hands, but the story is true. The story goes that back in 2005 on Halloween night a group of friends went into their local In-N-Out in Las Vegas, Nevada and made an unusual request. The helpful In-N-Out staff accommodated them. A few minutes later they left the restaurant with a monster burger made with 100 beef patties and 100 slices of cheese between a single bun. This is how the legendary 100×100 burger was born. The hungry group of friends were charged for one Double-Double burger plus 98 additional beef patties. These hungry group of friends revealed that their bill came to a substantial $97.66 that they glad paid. This mega-burger creation caused something of a stir on social media when the pictures were posted. Apparently others have tried to get their In-N-Out to make them a 100×100. Unfortunately for gluttons, the blogosphere reports this is one request that In-N-Out will no longer fulfill. You can’t really blame the company because even though the young men probably believed they were carrying out a harmless goof it feels more like an abuse of the fun “secret” menu concept that many customers enjoy without taking advantage of it in this way.
2. Exit Through The Gift Shop
Merchandising is an important part of a successful company’s branding efforts as well as an important source of revenue. If you doubt this just ask The Walt Disney Company. In-N-Out Burger is a successful company to be sure, but a relatively modest fast food chain when compared to the behemoths like McDonald’s. In-N-Out has an impact on California food culture that is outsized because of customer loyalty, the mobile food trucks deployed for special events and because of the attention to merchandising. When I saw the 1:64 scale model of the In-N-Out Peterbilt big rig truck I was immediately reminded of the Hess Gasoline trucks my father collected as a child. In-N-Out has cultivated a different kind of relationship with its customers than a lot of other restaurants have been willing or able to manage. Have you ever seen random people wearing baseball caps with a McDonald’s logo on it? The fact is you do see people wearing In-N-Out hats because they are willing to show an extra level of support. You can also find people wearing In-N-Out t-shirts with various images including the classic logo, the crossed palm trees and some classic car designs. McDonald’s is a universal brand with stores that are often adapted to their locations. In-N-Out, however, has tapped into Southern California’s historic hot rod and surfing cultures of the 1960’s offering people a taste of the Golden State’s glory days.
1. Too Little Of A Good Thing
In January 2015 In-N-Out Burger celebrated the opening of its 300th location. This was a major milestone for a company that had been located in southern California for most of its existence. As popular as this fast food chain is in California and growing parts of the western United States it is a relatively small operation that remains a family-owned company. The family has repeatedly rejected offers to franchise the business. This is because they believe that expanding the company too much would inevitably compromise the quality of their products and service. This is the opposite approach taken by a big chain like McDonald’s that seems to have a master plan to put its restaurants in as many locations as possible. McDonald’s boasts a global presence with nearly 37,000 store locations in more than 100 countries around the world. In-N-Out’s limited number of locations increases each individual In-N-Out location’s value. Their relative scarcity is seen as a virtue in the sense that because there isn’t an In-N-Out Burger on every corner you might feel compelled to go to the one you do find. Apparently the famous British chef Julia Child kept a list of In-N-Out Burger locations handy so when she was traveling in California she would always know where she could find one as she traveled around the state. It’s well established that the company’s loyal customers are willing to go a little out of their way to enjoy their favorite burgers and fries. Although, it can be a little frustrating to have to pass a few McDonald’s and Del Tacos before reaching an In-N-Out the extra effort makes the food taste that much better.