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The History of In-N-Out Burger

Harry Snyder founded In-N-Out Burger in 1948 when he opened California's first drive-thru hamburger stand in Baldwin Park. It was barely 100 square feet in size! That same year, he rolled out an invention of his own making — a two-way speaker box that offered drive-thru service to In-N-Out customers. (Notably, In-N-Out is credited as the first modern drive-thru in America; Harry's invention most certainly caught on!) The iconic arrow logo was created in 1954 and by the burger joint’s 10th anniversary in 1958, the business had expanded to include 5 locations in Southern California. That same year, fountain drinks replaced bottled beverages at In-N-Out locations. In 1961, the first Animal Style In-N-Out burger was prepared in response to customer requests. The famous Double-Double was introduced as a promotional item in early 1963 and was later officially added to the menu. The restaurant opened a dedicated patty-making facility that same year — until then, each cut of meat was personally selected and ground under Harry’s supervision and then formed into patties by his wife, Esther. In 1970, the chain introduced collectible character glasses. In 1971, Irwindale Drag Strip began selling In-N-Out burgers to racers and fans; that same year, a tradition of planting crossed palm trees outside In-N-Out locations began (it was based on Harry’s love of the movie It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.) By 1973, there were 13 In-N-Out locations in Los Angeles County. Each featured two lanes for drive-thru customers but no dining room; most offered outside tables for guests. In 1974, the all-white uniforms were updated to include red aprons for all employees. Milkshakes made with ice cream were added to the menu in 1975. In 1976, founder Harry Synder sadly passed away and his sons Rich and Guy Snyder took over as President and Vice President of In-N-Out, respectively. The first dining room restaurant opened around the end of the decade and in 1984, the first In-N-Out without a drive-thru opened.  (These remained rare — as recently as 2012, there were still only 5 locations without a drive-thru lane, all in California.) In 1990, In-N-Out began a program to help feed homeless residents of California and continues to be involved in a number of charitable endeavors today. The first In-N-Out location outside of California opened in Nevada in 1992. The first location in Arizona opened in 2000. The chain expanded into Utah in 2008, shortly after the passing of Esther Snyder as well as her two sons, all three of whom had major impacts on their family business. Harry and Esther’s granddaughter and Guy’s daughter, Lynsi, took over as President in 2010. In 2011, the first two In-N-Out locations in Texas were opened, and then a location opened in Oregon in 2015. Hot cocoa was added back to the menu for the first time since the 1950s in 2018. Colorado got its first two In-N-Out locations in 2020, and in 2023, the chain’s 400th location was opened in Idaho. Today, In-N-Out remains a cult favorite burger joint known for the quality and taste of its offerings; it has many devoted fans.

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