11 Fascinating Facts About In-N-Out Burger

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In-N-Out Burger boasts quite the big reputation for a regional chain that’s only available in some parts of the country. It’s a favorite among chefs, known to use the highest quality ingredients, and some people believe that it serves the absolute best burgers you can find anywhere.

But, for everything that customers already know and love about this regional gem, there’s also a lot about the chain that isn’t all that obvious. Why do Bible verses adorn their paper packaging? How did “Animal Style” burgers get their name? Why are there two palm trees outside most In-N-Out locations?

Lynsi Snyder, the current president and owner of In-N-Out and granddaughter of founders Harry and Esther Snyder, answered all of those questions and more in her brand-new book, “The Ins-N-Outs of In-N-Out Burger: The Inside Story of California’s First Drive-Thru and How It Became a Beloved Cultural Icon.”

In the book, Snyder explores the In-N-Out’s long and storied history and shares plenty of intriguing insider details about the chain. The book was officially released on Oct. 17, just ahead of In-N-Out’s 75th anniversary on Oct. 22.

“I’ve been wanting to tell the true In-N-Out story for some time, and as we neared that 75-year mark as a company, it seemed like a great time to let our loyal customers and our In-N-Out family have the story in their hands,” Snyder said in a statement this past summer about the book. “In-N-Out Burger is so much more than an iconic restaurant and the home of delicious burgers, fries and shakes. For me, In-N-Out Burger is my family and my calling, and I couldn’t be more honored to share our story.”

We’ve compiled all of the most interesting info that Snyder unveiled in the book, so read on for 11 of the most fascinating In-N-Out Burger facts!

In-N-Out Animal Style fries

“Animal Style” is perhaps the most famous option on In-N-Out’s not-so-secret secret menu, and Snyder revealed just how the popular customization got its name in her new book. Customers used to hang out in In-N-Out’s parking lots late at night and would sometimes get a little rowdy, getting into fights, leaving trash around, and playing their music too loud. In-N-Out workers began to good-naturedly refer to these customers as “animals.”

After finishing up business one night, an In-N-Out manager at one store was making himself a customized burger with lettuce, tomato, a mustard cooked beef patty, pickles, extra “spread” (In-N-Out’s Thousand Island-style condiment), and grilled onions.

One of the “animals” saw the manager making the burger, asked for the same thing, and loved it so much that he kept coming back to order it night after night. The manager eventually told the customer to simply call the special burger “Animal Style.”

“That’s how Animal Style burgers got their name, and the request is the first known instance of a secret In-N-Out menu item,” Snyder wrote. “Today cheeseburgers, hamburgers, Double-Doubles, and fries can all be ordered Animal Style.”

In-N-Out palm trees
Michael Gordon / Shutterstock

Aside from the In-N-Out signs, palm trees are one of the most iconic emblems of the regional fast-food chain. That’s because back when In-N-Out had grown to 13 stores, a friend advised founder Harry Snyder to come up with a symbol for his stores.

After brainstorming ideas with his family, he settled on palm trees. While In-N-Out has tried out several different types of palm trees and growing styles over the years, the company currently uses Mexican Fan palm trees and manually crosses them once they reach a height of 10 feet.

These special sets of trees can be found at most In-N-Out stores, and 15 locations even boast two sets.

In-N-Out employees
Tada Images / Shutterstock

In-N-Out currently boasts 391 stores in seven states, according to Snyder, which is a pretty sizable number for a chain that only operates in certain parts of the country. That expansion looks all the more impressive when you consider that In-N-Out barely advertises itself at all.

Snyder explained in her book that In-N-Out mostly relies on “word of mouth” to draw in customers. Unlike other chains, the chain doesn’t offer plastic toys or seek out mentions in major movies.

“In many ways it seems we practice the antithesis of what many of today’s successful companies do,” Snyder wrote.

Despite the lack of advertising, Snyder said that new In-N-Out store openings can still draw long lines of customers that stretch around the block.

First In-N-Out

Nowadays, In-N-Out is one of the most famous, highly esteemed fast-food chains in the country. But did you know that the massive chain was built on just a few thousand dollars in seed money? In-N-Out founder Harry Snyder combined funds with a friend named Charlie Noddin to come up with $5,000, secured a small piece of property in Baldwin Park, Cal., and funneled most of the funds into building their first eatery.

While In-N-Out restaurants have dining rooms nowadays, that first restaurant was drive-thru only and barely encompassed 10 square feet.

In-N-Out drive-thru
The Image Party / Shutterstock

Two-way speakers are par for the course at fast-food chains nowadays, but In-N-Out was actually the pioneer of the convenient ordering system, according to Snyder.

At the first In-N-Out location in Baldwin Park, cooks would have to stick their heads out of the drive-thru window or even step outside to take orders from customers. In order to simplify the process, Harry Snyder wired and installed a two-way speaker system so that customers could speak directly to his workers from their cars.

Harry Snyder did have to teach his customers how to use the system, but the method stuck and changed the fast-food game forever.

Kit Leong / Shutterstock

In-N-Out is already well known for prizing ingredient quality in its food, but Snyder’s book revealed that that commitment to quality goes much deeper than you might expect.

For starters, all of the food at In-N-Out is delivered fresh and never ever microwaved or frozen. (In fact, In-N-Out restaurants don’t even own microwaves or freezers). The chain is particularly choosy when it comes to sourcing its ingredients, as well.

The burgers are made fresh from premium cattle specially selected for In-N-Out. The patties—which are completely free of additives, fillers, and preservatives—are produced in the chain’s very own facilities, just so In-N-Out can control the whole process.

Snyder also noted that the lettuce is hand-leafed, the shakes are made from real ice cream, the chosen potatoes are always of the “highest quality,” and the French fries are always just three ingredients: potatoes, salt, and oil.

In-N-Out paper products
Steve Cukrov / Shutterstock

In-N-Out customers have surely noticed that Bible verses are discreetly printed on the chain’s paper packaging. Snyder revealed just how that practice came to be in her new book.

Her uncle Rich Snyder and father Guy Snyder grew up with some faith in their home, but Rich became a much more active participant in religion in the early 1980s. As a way to express his faith, Rich began printing tiny references to Bible verses on certain In-N-Out paper goods in 1985.

The tradition has continued ever since then. Lynsi Snyder herself added verses to even more In-N-Out paper products after she took over as president in 2010. Today, customers can find the Bible references on hamburger and cheeseburger bags, Double-Double wrappers, milkshake cups, certain holiday cups, soda cups, and hot cocoa cups.

In-N-Out workers
Iv-olga / Shutterstock

In-N-Out has already gained a sturdy reputation for treating its employees well, but Snyder’s book revealed just how lucrative the benefits of working for the chain can be. For instance, the average In-N-Out store manager makes more than $180,000 per year, which includes sharing in the store’s profits, Snyder wrote.

She explained that In-N-Out strongly values loyalty to the company and likes to reward  workers for their commitment. Average store managers at In-N-Out have been with the company for much longer than you might expect—over 15 years.

“Offering the highest wages in the industry is one way we attract the best,” she wrote.

Because In-N-Out takes training and mentoring its employees so seriously, the chain has operated an In-N-Out University in Baldwin Park since the mid-1980s. There, the company coaches all levels of management, equips teams, and develops and teaches its training materials, Snyder said.

In-N-Out soda dispensers
ZikG / Shutterstock

In-N-Out proudly serves Coke products in 2023, but for a long time, Pepsi products were the norm at the chain.

According to Snyder, In-N-Out had a special agreement with PepsiCo in which the two companies wouldn’t compete in any way. But in 1990, PepsiCo acquired a rival burger brand called Hot ‘n Now and began announcing openings for the chain in California even after In-N-Out’s then-CEO expressed concern over the acquisition. That spurred In-N-Out to switch over to the rival soft drink brand.

“We’ve been serving Coke products ever since,” Snyder wrote.

In-N-Out Texas location
JHVEPhoto / Shutterstock

Despite its major popularity, In-N-Out currently only operates restaurants in seven states, and the vast majority of its locations are in California. So when, if ever, will fans farther east finally see those iconic red and yellow signs pop up near them

Well, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced at the start of 2023 that In-N-Out will build its first corporate hub outside of California in Franklin, Tenn. Snyder wrote that after building the facility, In-N-Out will finally be able to start building stores in the Southeast.

“That news made a lot of people happy,” she said.

Until then, the farthest east that you can currently find an In-N-Out is in Texas, which boasts more than 40 stores.

In-N-Out hot cocoa
In-N-Out Burger / Facebook

Lynsi Snyder made a rare change to the In-N-Out menu back in 2018 by bringing back hot cocoa. The chain had sold cocoa back in the 1950s, but the hot beverage left menus in the late 1970s.

The version that Snyder added to the beverage lineup is made from “quality cocoa” from the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company and served with marshmallows. And as an extra bonus for its younger fans, kids younger than 12 can now snag free hot cocoa to warm up on rainy days.

Last Updated on October 18, 2023 by shalw

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