Learn The Secret Ins And Outs Behind The Counter Of In-N-Out

In-N-Out is one of the most sought-after burger franchise in America. People flock to their locations, the lineups can run out the door, and there’s just something about their fries that only the most diehard customers know how to properly customize. Seriously, keep an eye out for all the different ways you can order their fries.

In-N-Out has also become a great place to earn a paycheck, with employees earning a starting salary of $10.50 per hour, and managers earning $100,000 salaries! That’s just the start for this burger franchise, so keep reading to find out what else is going on behind the counter.

You Can Actually Customize How You Like Your Fries

Not all fries are created equal, and everyone has different tastes. In-N-Out caters to their customers, and offer seven different ways to eat your fries. If you like extra crispy fries, make sure to order them well-done. If you just need a little crispy, a light-well order should do the trick.

Some people like to have their fries on the softer side, and if that sounds like you, make sure to order them lite. Of course, you can go for the no-salt option, and if you want some cheese on your fries, they even ofter that option!

Are You Hungry Yet?

If all of those options just don’t sound quite right and you’re looking for something a little more extreme, you need to try out their famous Animal Style fries. You won’t find these on the menu but every In-N-Out fan knows that they’re a must-try. These fries feature melted cheese and grilled onions, but the real secret is the addition of the same secret sauce that can be found on their burgers.

There’s one other version of their fries that you can even make yourself, and that’s their lemon fries. What you do is take a lemon wedge, which can usually be found next to their ice tea stand, and squeeze it over your fries.

It All Started With Creative Employees

As much as it’s important to follow the rules in the kitchen, it’s always worth experimenting a bit to keep things fresh. One Reddit user passed along a story of how some of the associates play around with the traditional menu and cook up something new, and that’s how the secret menu began.

He said, “I’ve made donuts putting the buns in the fryers with syrup from the shakes and coring out a potato and frying it and filling it with chopped meat patties, melted cheese, onions, chilies, and grilled tomatoes. Too good.”

Each Location Has Their Own Secrets

In-N-Out has obviously put a lot of stock into their secret menu, but what many customers don’t know is that every location has some secrets that are unique to their specific store. That means the possibilities are seemingly endless and you can get a unique experience in each and every location.

“Every store has their own secret item that only the associates know how to make. Some stores will cut potatoes long ways and will make [fancy French fries] called mojos.”

An Early Adopter Of The Atkins Diet?

The Atkins diet is famous for swapping out the carbs we find in our food, but In-N-Out might have actually been ahead of the trend. Also found on their secret menu is a ‘protein burger.’ Instead of using a traditional burger bun, this burger is instead wrapped in lettuce. This sounds fairly reasonable in today’s day and age, but the burger was actually introduced back in the 1970s!

At the time, Harry Snyder was trying to find ways to lose a bit of weight, so he decided to cut out the carbs from his burger bun and double down with the lettuce.

What Else Is On The Secret Menu?

When you first walk into an In-N-Out franchise, the menu might look a little limiting. That’s to keep things simple, but one of the worst-kept secrets is that they have a rather extense ‘secret menu.’ Actually, they plainly list some of the ‘secret menu’ options on their website.

However, there are still some ‘secret menu’ items you might not easily find. There’s the double meat, and the 3×3 and 4×4, which features triple or quadruple the meat and cheese. There’s also the root beer float and bun doughnuts, which sounds like more of a dessert than a main course option.

Mix Up Your Shake

Every good fast-food joint should offer some kind of milkshake. While fountain drinks will always hold a special place in our hearts, a good milkshake just hits differently. The original vanilla shake is good, but if you know how the secret menu works, you know that there are options.

This secret menu option is the Neapolitan shake, and it mixes three different flavors into one. Another little tip? Try dipping your fries (probably not the animal fries) into your shake. Salty, sweet, and potatoes? We’re in heaven.

Is It A Fry Or Is It A Burger?

We’ve gone over some of our favorite burgers and fries that appear on the secret menu, but we had to give this menu item it’s own individual listing. That’s because it’s not really either of those food items, but it’s also both. This secret menu item is called Roadkill fries.

This is another way to cut the bun out of your burger. This is animal fries topped with a flying dutchman, which are two patties with cheese in between.

What Goes Into A Double-Single?

We’re back on the secret menu options, and here’s one that has really peaked our tastebuds. According to the same employee that revealed the best way to eat your animal fries, there is also another secret menu burger that deserves a try.

According to them, “The best burger I’ve eaten (that I never would’ve thought to make myself) is a Double-Single. It’s two burger patties, one slice of cheese, chopped chilies, chopped onions, and one tomato slice. The bun gets a spiral of mustard and a squeeze of lemon juice.” In-N-Out is proving that lemon deserves a squeeze on all of our favorite fast-food menu items.

Let Your Imagination Run Wild

As much as In-N-Out associates like to play with the menu in the back, sometimes it’s the customers who are coming up with crazy menu items. That’s exactly what happened here in Las Vegas, when one person decided to order a 100×100 burger that costs, almost poetically, about 100 dollars.

This monstrosity led management to set a limit and stop the madness at the traditional 4×4 burger. However, what’s really stopping you from ordering 25 4x4s and just combining them yourself?

How To Order The Best Animal Fries

So we’ve mentioned the life-changing experience that is In-N-Out’s animal fries, but there’s a way to making that experience even better! According to a former manager, there is a little adjustment to make to get the most of your experience.

The secret to the perfect batch of animal fries is to order them well done. That way, the crispy fries won’t lose their shape and won’t get soggy under the secret sauce and sauteed onions. This is an elite level tip and will allow you to take the time to really appreciate what exactly goes into their secret sauce.

The Fans Helped Create The Animal Style Burger

Some of the greatest ideas come thanks to collaboration, and that’s exactly how the world was introduced to the Animal Style burger. The burger was not an invention by In-N-Out but instead a request from their customers. You know what they say, the customer is always right.

The first Animal Style burger was introduced in 1961 and the company never looked back. That little bit of ingenuity led to a whole host of secret items that fans are constantly coming back to try.

The Least-Favorite Secret Menu Item?

Well, this item is probably the least-favorite for the associates to make, just because it’s one of those ‘do it yourself’ menu items. While most of these secret menu items offer something that can’t otherwise be found, this is one made for the lazy in mind.

What you’re looking at is a Monkey Style burger, and it’s just a double-double burger with Animal Style fries placed inside. This is a menu item every four-year-old has made themselves without realizing they were making a new menu item.

Third Time’s A Charm

It’s not common to see someone walk out of In-N-Out with some chili cheese fries, but it’s not from a lack of effort. It’s just because only the select few know how to properly ask for this special side. Ordering chili cheese fries is like answering a riddle from a troll under a bridge.

The key to getting this order is persistence. The first time you ask for these fries, you’re going to be met with rejection. The same thing will happen the second time you ask. However, the third time you ask for a helping of chili cheese fries, you will finally be rewarded. They certainly appear to be worth the hassle.

Hold The Meat

We’re starting to see more and more meatless options available at restaurants, and In-N-Out is making sure that their customers have those same options. One of the simplest ways is by cutting out the meat in their burger, and instead, offering a grilled cheese. Just think of your usual burger minus the patty.

This is great for those looking to avoid meat or that picky kid who eats nothing but grilled cheese sandwiches.

Other Hidden Messages In Their Product

In-N-Out isn’t just hiding their secret menu. They also have hidden some Bible verses in their product. Ever since the 1980s, In-N-Out has printed these bible verses on their cups and wrappers.

When founder Harry Snyder died, son Rich became the owner of the company. During this time, he became a born-again Christian, so the religious messages might be seen as a way for Rich to spread the gospel.

John 3:16 is a very famous Bible verse. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

The Reason Behind The Message

After deciding to include bible verses into his product, Rich said, quite simply, “It’s just something I want to do.” Snyder would continue to push his religious beliefs in his product when, in 1991, he ran a radio ad for Christmas that said, “Ask Jesus to come and live in your heart today. Choose life by choosing Jesus. In-N-Out Burger wishes you a full and abundant life forever.”

This naturally led to some controversy as listeners weren’t sure whether their fast-food burger joint should be pushing their religious beliefs through their burgers. However, any backlash didn’t seem to affect their sales, and customers would continue to flock to In-N-Out.

You Can Expect Fresh Food Every Day

We always hope our food is fresh, but it’s natural to assume some fast-food chains cut corners and costs whenever possible. In-N-Out knows the importance of offering fresh food every single day. All of the potatoes are peeled and sliced in the kitchen, as are the tomatoes and onions, and lettuce is constantly being chopped. And the meat? It’s never frozen.

They are also adamant in ensuring that the quality of their food is held to a certain standard, so bruised or wilted vegetables are tossed. An added bonus is that In-N-Out only uses local vegetables, so they are helping their community.

Fresh Food Means No Leftovers

Part of the benefits of making food fresh to order means that there are rarely any leftovers. Sure, there might be a few pieces of produce leftover because of the company’s pursuit of the freshest food possible, but for the most part, everything that is brought in is used, so there is very little waste.

This is another way In-N-Out differs from many of their competitors. Traditionally fast-food joints are looking to prep as far ahead as possible to ensure they can turn out customers and quickly and efficiently as possible. In-N-Out instead focuses on quality, while still getting burgers in their customer’s hands as quickly as possible.

Everyone Starts From The Bottom

Part of offering all of their associates a comprehensive benefits package is to keep them around and seem them grow within the business. That goes for their own family members. Snyder sons Guy and Rich, despite being born into their parents’ business, still had to start in the kitchen and work their way up. That meant working the fryers and emptying oil traps just like anyone else.

Lynsi Snyder, the current owner of In-N-Out, also started in the back helping with prep work. By doing the dirty work, the Snyder family believes it would help keep their children humble, but also instill the understanding of what every associate has to go through during an average day.

Their Employees A Like A Member Of Their Family

It’s important to treat your employees with respect, and In-N-Out takes that belief another step further. Some fast-food companies might overlook their employees, but the Snyder family makes sure to treat them like a part of the family.

Instead of looking at their staff as ’employees,’ they instead refer to them as ‘associates’ to help them take ownership over everything they do. In-N-Out associates also receive a reportedly ‘generous’ benefits package, which is not very common in the fast-food industry. This helped them earn the label as one of the ‘best places to work’.

Get An Education At In-N-Out University

There are a number of associates who have worked their way up through the rankings behind the counter, and the vast majority of them went to In-N-Out University. This ‘university’ was started in 1984, and was a way to train new staff and managers how to properly maintain the company’s qualities. According to Bloomberg, about 80% of managers went through the university ranks and would go on to become career team members.

Apparently, it is possible to rise the ranks without having any actual college or managerial experience, but there’s a good chance that In-N-Out will still encourage you to go through their university training.

Smile! You’re On Camera!

This might not sound so crazy considering it seems we’re constantly under the watch of some kind of surveillance, but there is actually a very practical reason behind the cameras in the kitchen. The thinking was that new employees were able to learn more by seeing their mistakes, so Rich Snyder, the founder’s son, decided to introduce the idea of videotaping new trainees so that they could learn from their mistakes.

These videotapes also proved helpful to use as a training manual for each new hire. Now employees could see what was expected of them, and learn from their mistakes so they could get better at their job.

The Company Is Run By A Young, Female Billionaire

In-N-Out is a family business that was first started in 1948. Newlyweds Harry and Esther Snyder founded the company, and passed it along to their sons Rich and Guy. Fast forward to today and now the company is in the hands of Lynsi Snyder, who is the daughter of Guy, who is one of America’s youngest female billionaires.

Lynsi Snyder was just twenty-four years old when she inherited the company. She has helped continue to grow the company, even though she never went to college, and would be named America’s youngest female billionaire by Bloomberg.

Snyder Married A Former In-N-Out Employee… Twice

Despite being America’s youngest billionaire, Lynsi Snyder lives a very private life. In her 10+ years as the owner of In-N-Out, Lynsi has been married four different times and is the mother of four children. Her first marriage was to Jeremiah Seawell, her highschool sweetheart, before she wed Richard Martinez, a former In-N-Out employee and the father of her two fraternal twins, Ella Jade and Silas Diego.

After Martinez Snyder was wed to Val Torres Jr, a racecar driver and the father of their son Valentino Guy. Finally, in 2014, Snyder married Sean Ellingson, who is another former In-N-Out employee and the father of their son, Layne.

Even Julia Child Is An In-N-Out Fan

It takes a lot for famous chefs to get behind the idea of fast-food, but In-N-Out has a way of drawing in fans from all different walks of life. One of those famous fans was the late Julia Child, who starred in The French Chef and was best known for her extensive knowledge in French cuisine.

There’s a story that when Child was recovering from knee surgery, she had one of her assistants go out and grab some In-N-Out cheeseburgers. If that doesn’t sound like the perfect endorsement, I don’t know what does.

What Do The Palm Trees Mean?

Considering that In-N-Out was founded in California, many customers might just think that the palm trees come with the territory. In fact, those palm trees are placed there intentionally. The idea of the cross palm tree was started way back in 1972 by founder Harry Snyder.

The idea originated from the movie It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. If you’re familiar with the film, you know that the characters in the film were looking for buried treasure that was found beneath the crossed palm trees. Hopefully, this fun fact doesn’t lead to customers digging around underneath the trees the next time they want a burger.

In-N-Out Doesn’t Plan On Franchising

Lynsi Snyder, the current owner of In-N-Out, has said that the company will never franchise. According to her discussion with the OC Register, “We’re definitely not franchising and we’re not going to sell. So don’t expect mass expansion of In-N-Out anytime soon.”

in and out burger drive thru
Photo Credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
Photo Credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

The reason In-N-Out doesn’t plan on franchising is that they prefer to focus on the quality of their product, and in franchising, they would lose some of that control. Franchising would also lead to expansion, which could lead to some overexposure of the marketplace. In-N-Out is not only a fast-food restaurant — it’s an experience that fans flock to.

There’s A Reason Associates Tend To Stick Around

We’ve mentioned already that the benefits that associates receive are better than most in the fast-food world, but what does that mean exactly? Well, one employee submitted this comment to Glassdoor, “The benefits are amazing. I work part-time and have the option of dental, vision, and life insurance as well as paid vacation time.”

Needless to say, this is not the norm. This is just one of the reasons why associates love to work at In-N-Out and a reason why the fast-food company has one of the lowest turnover rates. They are very accommodating to the students who make up a big chunk of their workforce so they can continue their studies, and managers reportedly stick around on an average of 14 years.

Managers Cash In On Their Popularity

It’s important to keep customers well-fed and coming back for more, but it’s more than just the profits for the company. Having a popular location can be a huge financial boost to the manager as well.

“There are store managers who have busy stores who make more than a quarter of a million dollars a year.” This just goes to show you why it’s so important for managers to ensure their customers are happy and coming back again and again.

It’s Important To Know Someone Who Knows Someone

It isn’t uncommon for employeers to look inward when hiring. That means leaning on their existing employees to recommend others who would make a great addition to the team. It’s a great way to build a team, but In-N-Out takes it a step further by actually rewarding their employees who make good recommendations.

“They have a program called Multiplying Winners. If you refer someone who gets hired, you get paid.” This is another instance of how the company makes its associates feel like stakeholders in the company.

Some Are Offered Unique Exclusives

Along with the pay and the benefits packages, In-N-Out managers are offered some truly unique opportunities. One of those opportunities is an all-expenses-paid vacation! One employee shared the story of their store manager and the trip of a lifetime.

“My store manager went [on an all-expenses-paid trip by In-N-Out to Germany. He stayed at a five-star hotel. And he said that he realized that if he worked all of his life, he probably could never afford something like this on his own.”

Save A Little On Your Drink Order

We’re always looking for a way to save a buck or two, and In-N-Out seems to know our struggle. Some customers have found a way to beat the system and stay refreshed. If you look over at the condiment station, you’ll see lemon wedges.

So, what some customers have started doing is instead of ordering a drink, they’ll order a water cup and use the lemon wedges to make some lemonade. You can even add some sugar to sweeten it. This might sound like some serious penny-pinching, but this is a pretty practical way to cut out some of the sugar found in most fountain drinks.

In-N-Out Remade How We Do Drive-Thru

We’re all pretty accustomed to pulling up to the intercom from the comfort of our car, but In-N-Out actually invented that model. Before Harry Snyder came up with the idea in 1948, drive-ins were more common, where people would pull up to a designated parking space and carhops would come to you to put in and deliver your meal.

Instead, Snyder envisioned how a two-way speaker would work so customers could literally come in and out and the company could increase how many customers they could see in a day.

Customers Couldn’t Always Just Follow The Arrow

It might be hard to imagine In-N-Out without the iconic yellow arrow, but when the company first started, it was nowhere to be seen. In fact, the arrow wasn’t introduced to the signage until 1954.

Before the introduction of the yellow arrow, the sign used to say ‘no delay.’ It’s interesting to see that they removed that message, but maybe it has to do with their focus on providing customers a quality product. Sometimes quality takes a little longer than quantity.

And How Would You Like That Done?

Traditionally, fast-food restaurants don’t ask customers how they would like their burger done. There are plenty of reasons why, from health concerns to ensuring a consistent product, but In-N-Out is willing to make your burger to your request.

While associates might not ask you how you want your burger cooked, they can amend your order however you see fit. This option is available at any restaurant outside of the state of Nevada, for whatever reason.

Something For Your Doggie Bag

Some fast-food chains have started to realize they can cater to more than just humans. So many people who are coming through the drive-thru have their pets by their side, so In-N-Out decided to start catering to our furry friends.

Back on that secret menu is a little something for our pups to enjoy. There’s a Pup Patty, which is a saltless patty available so your dog has something to snack on during that long drive home. Hopefully, this keeps them out of your helping of animal fries.

In-N-Out’s History In Drag Racking

The Snyder’s love for cars and racing go back generations. Found Harry Snyder had a fifty percent investment in developing a race track in 1965, and even sold his burgers at the concession stand. Looking at In-N-Out today, his granddaughter Lynsi Snyder has carried on the love of the track.

Lynsi Snyder was at one time married to a racecar driver, but she also has a love for driving herself, and has even competed in the Super Gas and Top Sportsman Division 7 categories. Lynsi has even taken some mechanic classes to work on her own cars.

In-N-Out Tops Google In One Specific Area

Lynsi Snyder has proven to be very adept at running a billion-dollar company, even from a young age. She has been compared to Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, Rich Lesser, CEO of Boston Consulting, and Bob Bechek, CEO of Bain.

She earned these distinctions because of the approval ratings she has garnered from her employees. In-N-Out is even ranked higher than Google, with a 96% approval rating. It’s safe to say that Lynsi is carrying on the values her grandparents instilled in the company from the start.

People Come From All Over To Try Their Burgers

In-N-Out is a unique experience that can’t be found just anywhere. As other chain restaurants have grown and expanded all over the globe, In-N-Out has maintained that they will never franchise and will continue to operate more like a mom-and-pop operation. That means staying close to their roots in California.

This is a big reason why they can maintain such interest from customers old and new. Because you can’t just go anywhere to get an In-N-Out burger, it makes the franchise even more appealing, and helps explain why lines can go out the door on a seemingly ordinary day.