In 70 years, In-N-Out Burger has grown from a tiny Southern California drive-thru to a chain of 334 restaurants in six states with a cult following belying its size, reported The Mercury News.
Now the company’s celebrating the 70th birthday of its founding on Oct. 22, 1948, with the release of its 2019 T-shirts and an official party Nov. 17 in Pomona, California, reported KABC.
Here are five turning points from In-N-Out’s 70-year history.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Harry and Esther Snyder opened the first In-N-Out Burger in Baldwin Park, California, a Los Angeles suburb, on Oct. 22, 1948, according to the company history, which calls it the state’s first drive-thru burger stand.
A Missouri restaurant, Red’s Giant Hamburgers, may claim the title of America’s first drive-thru hamburger stand, opening in 1947, according to The Mercury News.
On the opening day In-N-Out menu: Hamburgers, 25 cents; cheeseburgers, 30 cents; fries, 15 cents; and bottled soft drinks, 10 cents, reported the publication.
First drive-thru speakers
Later in 1948, Harry Snyder installed a two-way speaker box he’d cobbled together in his garage after work to enable customers to order without leaving their cars, according to the company history.
It may have been the first two-way drive-thru speaker in the nation.
Make mine a Double-Double
In-N-Out added the Double-Double burger — two meat patties and two cheese slices — to its menus in 1963.
The late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain dubbed the Double-Double a “perfectly designed protein delivery system” in a YouTube interview for Eater in which he called the chain his favorite Los Angeles restaurant.
Take-out or dine-in?
A new In-N-Out in Ontario, California, became the chain’s first to offer inside dining in 1979, according to the company history.
Previously the chain had offered only take-out meals with double drive-thru lanes, but switched to single lanes with the advent of inside seating.
Breaking out of California
The first In-N-Out restaurant outside California opened in 1992 in Las Vegas, Nevada, according to the company history. The chain now has 334 restaurants, most still in California, with others in Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Texas and Oregon.
The family-owned company does not franchise and expands slowly, reported Forbes in an interview with current president Lynsi Snyder, grand-daughter of Harry and Esther Snyder.
“We’re really picky and strategic,” Snyder said, according to Forbes. “We’re not going to compromise.”
The company plans to expand to Colorado and, perhaps, New Mexico, but won’t go farther east than Texas, Snyder said, according to the publication.
“I don’t see us stretched across the whole U.S.,” Snyder said, reported Forbes. “I don’t see us in every state. Take Texas — draw a line up and just stick to the left. That’s in my lifetime.”