I don't like fast food. Ok, I do eat it occasionally. I eat it when I need some food, fast. I eat it when I'm on a road trip in North Dakota. And I eat it every time I pass an In-n-Out Burger.
This chain is somewhat of a phenomenon. It could only happen in California. They only sell burgers. Hamburgers, cheeseburgers, double cheeseburgers. Ok, they also have fries, soda, and milkshakes, but that's it. But here's the thing, the burgers are good. I mean, I actually go out of my way to eat at In-n-Out. Never heard of it? Well, I've seen one in Las Vegas, but other than that, it has only recently spread from the southern half into the northern half of California. And other than a few billboards, they don't advertise. They don't need to. Every one of their stores is packed all the time.
So what's the deal? Well, the burgers are good. They taste good, they are well-constructed, they are pleasantly presented with paper around half of them to make it easier to eat them. They come with lettuce, tomato, onions and special sauce. The fries are good too. They cut them right there in the store from fresh potatoes, fry them minimally, and occasionally even soak the excess grease up with a napkin. The service is great, much better than you will find at any other fast food joint. Why is this? These people are paid well. The starting wage is over $8 an hour. They're happy to work there. They keep the place clean, they smile when they talk to you, they do a good job.
Does that explain the popularity of this chain? Almost, but not quite. I'm not sure how to describe it, but there is something else about In-n-Out that draws me there. Is it the red and white décor? Is it the plentiful outdoor seating? Is it the way they call my name when my order is ready? Is it the placemat they give you for your lap when you order at the drive-through? Is it the secret menu (try ordering your burger "animal style" if you dare)? Or is it something completely intangible? Anyone who has been there knows what I am talking about. The rest of you will have to take my word for it.
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