A San Bernardino hamburger stand may have launched an empire that’s served billions and billions. But California’s first drive-though restaurant opened three months before McDonald’s converted its stand to offer the same service.
That innovator was called In-N-Out Burger. Owners Harry and Esther Snyder opened their first store — a 10-foot-square location — on Oct. 22, 1948, in Baldwin Park. The place was convenient, right around the corner from where the Snyders lived.
Along with the drive-thru, it added another convenience: a two-way speaker Harry Snyder rigged up in his garage. It allowed drivers to order from the car window. These features lined up with the Southland’s auto-driven expansion, and other restaurants caught on pretty fast.
But fans of In-N-Out remain fiercely loyal to what it does — and doesn’t — do. It sticks to a basic menu of burgers, cheesburgers, fries, shakes and soft drinks. The company pays its employees well above minimum wage and shuts down all 281 locations on Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Foodies who might ordinarily bypass burger joints — like the late Julia Child, Anthony Bourdain and "Fast Food Nation" author Eric Schlosser — praise the chain's emphasis on freshness. All of its locations are within a day's drive of its distribution centers.
In-N-Out, now based in Irvine, has expanded to Arizona, Nevada, Texas and Utah. And in July, a one-day pop-up store in Singapore offering Double-Doubles and Animal-style fries sold out in minutes.
Are you a fan? Vote in our poll below. And feel free to add a comment!