Exploring In-N-Out’s 75-Year Journey To Fast Food Superstardom

Despite a limited domestic footprint, this chain has some serious street cred. Exploring In-N-Out’s 75-Year Journey To Fast Food Superstardom Shutterstock

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Three-quarters of a century ago, the fast-food landscape looked much different. Back then, McDonald’s didn’t even exist. But there was one quick-service burger restaurant that traces its lineage back 75 years … and it’s still a beloved West Coast icon.

A brief history

Even though it currently operates just a few hundred locations across seven states, In-N-Out is known across the country and beyond for its fast, friendly service and limited menu consisting of burgers, fries, and shakes. So how did we get here from its founding way back in 1948?

  • The first restaurant was opened in Southern California by Harry and Esther Snyder, whose family still owns the chain. Burgers cost a mere 25 cents each back then.
  • It provide customers with the added convenience of a two-way speaker in the drive-thru lane, which was a huge breakthrough for the fledgling fast-food industry.
  • Thirteen years later came the “Animal Style” burger, originally created by staff and later offered to customers who craved its mustard-packed goodness.
  • The chain grew slowly and only had 13 locations by the time it turned 25 years old.
  • It was in 1975 when the last big shakeup to the menu was announced and vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry shakes were added.

The iconic legacy

There’s no denying the fact that this chain has a legion of adoring fans who insist it has the best burgers on the planet.

A lot of that is due to the exacting standards that the Snyder family still has in place. Nothing you order is ever frozen or microwaved and fresh meat from local sources is sent to restaurants each day.

Plus, the toasted buns all come from SoCal’s Puritan Bakery, which was the only place that met the chain’s high threshold for quality and consistency.

Chris Agee
Chris Agee August 21st, 2023
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