Friday, May 19, 2006

Quality You Can Taste

California is a very large state, and it would be hard to describe the following as a well kept secret. But fact is, not many people outside the Golden State have heard of In-N-Out Burger. But if you're heading to California and want a fast food experience like it used to be way back when, then you really owe it to yourself to visit this outstanding burger joint.

Once inside, you are presented with a very neat and simple look. The counter is wide open, offering a full view of the kitchen area. The menu is easy to memorize: hamburger, cheeseburger, double burger, fries, shakes, soft drinks. That's it. No chicken, no bacon, no salads. The only thing that goes into the fryer are fresh cut potatoes, not chicken pieces or fish sticks. The fresh ground beef patties don't touch the grill until you place your order. That doesn't mean there aren't variations. The savvy customer is familiar with the "secret menu", the highlight of which is the "Animal Style", a true heart attack on a bun.

Be prepared to wait a little longer than you're used to. But believe me, it will have been worth it. The fries will taste differently than what you're used to. That's because they're fresh cut while the fries almost everywhere else have artificial flavors to replicate the taste of lard. Be sure to add some salt. These burgers have a natural flavor that leave you wondering why the other chains can't do it.

If, by now, you've concluded that this is no golden arches, you're right, but the dissimilarities don't end there. First off, In-N-Out is a privately owned company, and they don't franchise. They own their own processing facilities. Since they don't freeze their meat, they are limited geographically to their current range. Finally, the employee ("associate") starting work there tomorrow will earn $9.00 an hour, well above minimum wage. Full time associates are offered full benefits. In his book "Fast Food Nation", author Eric Schlosser singles out In-N-Out as an example of how a company can offer reasonably priced food of high quality yet do it in a way that does not exploit their work force. Whenever I'm in California, I make it a point to enjoy In-N-Out Burger.

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2 astute observations :

  1. Dj Jonny Flash said...

    If you like In-N-Out, you should swing by New Mexico sometime and try Blake's Lotaburger. Puts In-N-Out to shame, IMHO, but to each locale their own.

  2. richmanwisco said...

    i will make a note of that, thx!