The Reason In-N-Out Burger Has Stayed Virtually The Same Over Many Years

It is often said that if something isn't broken, you shouldn't try to fix it. That's the mentality that In-N-Out Burger has lived by since its founding in 1948. As the first drive-thru restaurant in California, In-N-Out introduced the two-way speaker system and customers were able to experience the revolutionary concept of ordering and receiving food while inside their vehicle. As the name would suggest, customers were able to get "in and out" of the drive-thru line quickly.

Since the marketing centered around getting food fast, the menu itself needed to be simple and streamlined. That simplification allowed the first In-N-Out to focus on quality over quantity, which has been the key to its success and longevity. The founder, Harry Snyder, would source local ingredients and prepare the meat and produce by hand. His management philosophy as a business owner was, "Quality, Cleanliness and Service." This mindset that prioritized freshness can be seen in the chain's success to this day.

The West Coast company has notably restricted its expansion because of its vicinity to distribution centers and its dedication to keeping all beef and potatoes fresh, not frozen. Its simplicity speaks to its novelty, which is also why the In-N-Out menu has stayed virtually the same over the years. The minor changes that have taken place are aligned with the brand's promise of quick, convenient, and fresh food. While the original menu included hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fries, and bottled soda, milkshakes were eventually added nearly three decades later.

The secret menu still keeps things simple

In-N-Out's menu has only undergone minor changes like adding pink lemonade and hot chocolate to its drink options. For the burgers, the concept of a double-double became extremely popular back in 1963, leading to a banner in the store encouraging patrons to try one. This burger order with double meat and double cheese eventually secured a spot on their regular menu as well.

Interestingly, demand became a catalyst for secret menu items with extra cheese and beef patties like the 3X3 or the 4X4. Common order creations that customers continued asking for led In-N-Out to create a "not so secret menu" tab on its website, which compiles items with popular variations. Protein style removes the bun and substitutes lettuce while its grilled cheese includes normal burger toppings like lettuce and tomato but omits the beef patty.

An extremely well-known secret menu item is the burger and fries ordered animal-style. The animal-style burger started all the way back in 1961. In order to meet customer demand, they would cook the beef patty in mustard, then add pickles to the burger as well as grilled onions and extra spread. When it comes to the animal fries, grilled onions, and spread are layered on top of melted cheese. Notably, the secret menu still uses the same simple ingredients in a variety of ways. Ultimately, In-N-Out Burger has remained true to its original mission and the lack of innovation has actually made the chain stand out.