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The History of California’s Beloved In-N-Out Burger Joint

Kailey Withers

Kailey Withers

Jenna Harper, Staff Writer

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By Jenna Harper

Staff Writer

Southern California is known not only for its beautiful beaches and nice weather, but for the creation of In-N-Out Burger. It seems to have always been here, but what about its history? When was it founded? Who was it founded by? What makes this classic American burger so damn good?

To answer a few of those questions, their official website explains that In-N-Out Burger was founded in 1948 by Harry and Esther Snyder. The restaurant first opened its doors on October 22, in Baldwin Park, CA, which is in the Central San Gabriel Valley region of Los Angeles (in-n-out.com).

Harry Snyder, born in 1913, was a WW2 veteran, and later became the day manager and caterer of a baked goods restaurant, where he met his wife Esther Johnson and found the inspiration for his dream. According to the Los Angeles Times, after Johnson and Snyder married and became “The Snyders,” they founded In-N-Out together, and became known as co-founders of the chain (latimes.com).

     Before Harry’s career in fast food and baked goods, he served in World War II. After the war ended, he came home and worked as a caterer of baked goods. Esther, on the other hand, worked in a branch of the Navy as a surgical nurse, and eventually earned her degree in Zoology. However, when she returned, she worked at the same restaurant at which Harry was starting his career. The two tied the knot.. That same year the very first store was opened, says a website centered around adventure, traveling, food, and culture (gearpatrol.com).

Over the course of the next couple of years, the Los Angeles area would become a central location for up and coming fast food chains. McDonald’s and Carl’s Jr quickly made their way into the developing industry. However, the O.G. that is In-N-Out stuck with simple mottos like: “the freshest, highest quality foods you can buy,” “friendly service in a sparkling clean environment” and, last but not least, “quality you can taste.” In-N-Out remains one of the few burger chains that avoid using microwaves and freezers. They value fresh ingredients, their customers, and their family-friendly environment (gearpatrol.com).

However, what few customers notice are the Bible references on the burger wrappers and disposable cups. Son of Harry, Rich Snyder, the president of the burger chain before he died in a plane crash in 1993 is said to have been a “born-again Christian,” which is a term some Evangelical Christians use to denote a person who has repented for his/her sins and turned to Christ for Salvation. He started putting scriptural verses on the disposable packaging and cups back in the ‘80s, but in a very discreet way so that they were hard to notice. According to a Christian news website, the family continued the tradition after his death, maybe in remembrance of him, consistency, or just the shared faith (deseretnews.com)

A few of the chain’s milestones include: being the first restaurant in history to have a drive-thru, creating their own company and merchandise store, and paying their employees more than minimum wage, 10.50 dollars per hour, in fact, which is 17 percent more than what this type of job usually pays, according to an article about the best places to work (squadle.com).

Overall, the quality of the food at In-N-Out deserves a solid 10 out of 10, but what is there to say about the way the food tastes? Well, according to Senior Nathan Santana, “I go to In-N-Out about once or twice a month. My favorite thing to get there is a cheeseburger, french fries, and a vanilla milkshake. Overall, I would rate it a 9/10.”

According to another In-N-Out enthusiast at UC High, Freshman Shayne Vivanco, “I go maybe 1-2 times a week, which I know is bad, but I’m trying to go less. I usually get a double-double with fries and a fountain drink. I’d definitely rate In-N-Out a 10/10.”

Unfortunately, Harry Snyder passed in 1976 due to lung cancer, while Esther passed in 2006 due to natural causes. However, their dream lived on through their two sons, who have both passed, and now their granddaughter, Lynsi Snyder, who has become the youngest female billionaire. With additions like “the double double,” and the not-so-secret “secret menu” items like “animal style,” the west-coast chain is as successful as ever and remains just as loved as it was back in 1948.

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The History of California’s Beloved In-N-Out Burger Joint