18 Mouthwatering Facts About In-N-Out Burger

Jared721, Flickr // CC BY NA 2.0
Jared721Flickr // CC BY NA 2.0

There's more to the beloved Californian burger chain than Double-Doubles and their secret and not-so-secret menus. We'll bet even you regulars and superfans don't know some of these.

1. IN-N-OUT WAS CREATED BY A COUPLE OF NEWLYWEDS.

Our founders, Harry and Esther Snyder with their sons, Guy and Rich.

A photo posted by In-N-Out Burger (@innout) on

When it opened in October 1948, In-N-Out was California’s first drive-thru hamburger stand; its founders, Harry and Esther Snyder, were newly married. Harry was known to visit the local Baldwin Park markets every morning to pick up fresh ingredients, and Esther was in charge of the accounting.

2. IN-N-OUT REVOLUTIONIZED FAST FOOD.

In-N-Out is credited as the first chain to have a two-way speaker system for drive-thru ordering. The forward-thinking Harry installed the intercom system in 1948 so that you truly could get "in and out" of his tiny hamburger shack in a hurry. Until that point, drive-ins with carhops who took your order and delivered your food were the norm.

3. THAT YELLOW ARROW WASN'T ALWAYS THERE.

Our original "No Delay" sign.

A photo posted by In-N-Out Burger (@innout) on

The iconic large yellow arrow on the logo first appeared in 1954, replacing the original “No Delay” sign.

4. THEY DIDN'T SERVE FOUNTAIN SODA FOR THE FIRST DECADE. 

In 1958, the company added fountain soda to the menu, replacing the bottles they had been selling for a decade. A 12-ounce drink was only 10 cents, and you could actually choose between Coke and Pepsi in the same location!

5. 'X' ACTUALLY MARKS THE SPOT.

Matt Northam, Flickr // CC BY NC ND 2.0

In 1972, Harry Snyder introduced the crossed palm trees that stand outside most In-N-Out locations. The idea came from the 1963 movie It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, where the characters hunt for a buried treasure hidden beneath four crossed palms.

6. THE COMPANY HAS A LONG ASSOCIATION WITH DRAG RACING.

From Harry Snyder's 50 percent investment in a new track in Irwindale in 1965 (where his burgers were sold in the concession stands) to Harry and Esther’s only grandchild (and heiress) Lynsi Snyder’s occasional trips out on the track, In-N-Out is a mainstay name around drag racing. According to the National Hot Rod Association, Lynsi has competed in the Super Gas and Top Sportsman Division 7 categories. "I like an adrenaline rush," Lynsi said last year. "My dad took me to the racetrack for the first time when I was 2 or 3. … Anything with a motor, that was in my blood." Lynsi, who has taken auto mechanic classes, often works on her own cars. 

7. IN-N-OUT EVEN HAD A CAR.

 J. Michael Raby, Flickr // CC-NC-ND 2.0

The company sponsored drag racer Melanie Troxel in 2010.

8. IN-N-OUT HAS ITS OWN "UNIVERSITY."

Don Barrett, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Established in 1984, the university’s classes aimed to train service staff and managers on how to maintain quality across the board. According to Bloomberg Business, roughly 80 percent of the chain’s store managers rose through the ranks to become career team members.

9. "LOVE WALKS IN" AN IN-N-OUT.

Getty Images

Van Halen’s chart-topping 1986 album 5150 was fueled by In-N-Out burgers. "When I first joined the band, we must have eaten there at least three days a week," Sammy Hagar told Stacy Perman for her 2009 book In-N-Out Burger: A Behind-the-Counter Look at the Fast-Food Chain That Breaks All the Rules. "We were in the studio recording 5150, and we'd send someone to go get food, and we'd talk about sushi or pizza and always end up with In-N-Out."

10. MANY CELEBS LOVE IN-N-OUT.

Speaking of famous fans, high-brow chef Julia Child once told Larry King that In-N-Out was "awfully good," and she reportedly kept a list of store locations in her purse. And, famously, Paris Hilton explained away a DUI arrest in 2006 by telling Ryan Seacrest, "I was just really hungry and I wanted to have an In-N-Out burger!"

11. THEIR JINGLE IS SUPER CATCHY.

You can even get an In-N-Out Burger ringtone

12. THERE ARE HIDDEN BIBLE VERSES ON THEIR PACKAGING.

BonzoESC, Flickr // CC NC 2.0

The chain discretely prints Bible verses on the bottom of their cups and wrappers, though they’ve never discussed the inclusion publicly. The Snyders' son Rich, who ran the company after Harry’s death, began the practice in the late ‘80s, telling the company’s spokesman "It’s just something I want to do."

Around Christmas 1991, Snyder, a born-again Christian, aired a radio ad that said, "Ask Jesus to come and live in your heart today. Choose life by choosing Jesus. In-N-Out Burger wishes you a full and abundant life forever." The company took some flak for the ad.

13. LYNSI DOESN'T DISCUSS HER PERSONAL LIFE BECAUSE SHE'S WORRIED ABOUT OUTSIDE THREATS.

The In-N-Out president and heiress says she’s almost been kidnapped twice.

14. ALL OF THE IN-N-OUT HEIRS WORKED IN THE BACK.

Rich and Guy Snyder

A photo posted by In-N-Out Burger (@innout) on

Harry and Esther made their two sons, Guy and Rich, do entry-level work so that they wouldn't be spoiled. And even though she would own the company by the time she was 24, Guy's daughter Lynsi’s first job at In-N-Out was in the kitchen at a new store in Redding. "She started out like everyone else in prep work, coring tomatoes, peeling potatoes, and slicing onions," Orange Coast Magazine reported last year. "'Of course, I would cry every time,' she recalls with a laugh. Nevertheless, 'I was really excited to work there, because it was the family business. It was fun, and I thought it would make my dad happy.'"

15. IN-N-OUT HAS MADE A LOT OF MONEY.

Lynsi is potentially America’s youngest female billionaire (emphasis on potentially). But even if she’s not an actual billionaire yet, she might get there when she inherits full control of the company’s trusts when she turns 35.

16. HARRY WAS ON ATKINS BEFORE IT WAS A THING.

Neeta Lind via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The "protein burger" on the Secret Menu is just the meat wrapped in lettuce, but it’s not a fad addition. Back in the ‘70s, Harry Snyder began ditching the bun because he was dieting. "Some people think that the protein burger came about recently because of all the Atkins dieters," general manager Carl Van Fleet said in 2004, "but it’s been around since the late 1970s."

17. IN-N-OUT ISN'T ABOUT TO START CHANGING ITS MENU.

cormac70, Flickr // CC BY NC-ND-2.0

Once in a generation, something new might officially be added to the menu. The only item Lynsi has added is sweet tea—and that's only in the newer Texas locations. The only other major menu addition of the past two decades? They started serving Dr. Pepper in 1996.

18. THE EAST COAST IS JUST NEVER GOING TO GET AN IN-N-OUT

In 2010, College Humor played a mean April Fools’ prank on New Yorkers by convincing passersby that In-N-Out was opening a location in the city. But because the company has such strict quality-control measures, they have a policy of not opening restaurants further than 500 miles from their in-house commissaries.

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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