HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 27: Musician Britney Spears and friend drive through In-N-Out Burger on February 27, 2003 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Mel Bouzad/Getty Images)

McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s are all household names but if you happen to live anywhere near an In-N-Out Burger there is no question where you go for a fast food burger.

People are fanatic about In-N-Out much like Apple computer or Harley-Davidson owners. No other brands are acceptable. In-N-Out Burger devotes are almost a cult like community.

What Makes In-N-Out So Special?

The same mentality that sends anyone traveling on I-90 to Wall Drug sends those same folks to In-N-Out when visiting Southern California. While only having about 250 locations there are propaganda stories about their secret menus, employees picking up six figure paychecks, and their very simple business model.

In-N-Out Burgers are welcome in communities where McDonald’s, Burger King or Wendy’s are not. The most respected food critics give In-N-Out an enthusiastic thumbs up.

It’s What You Don’t Find At In-N-Out

There are no freezers at In-N-Out. They butcher their own beef at their own facilities and ship it fresh to all locations. Fries are cut by hand at each location. Milk shakes are real ice cream (don’t ask how they do that without freezers).

Nothing is premade. Everything is prepared fresh when the customer orders it. Burger prices are a very reasonable $3 for a fresh, not frozen patty and fries with the skin still on. The only real change in the past 60 plus years has been the addition of 7-Up and Dr. Pepper to the drink menu.

What Happens When An In-N-Out Opens

I happened to be living in San Diego when the first In-N-Out Burger opened. It was an amazing thing to witness. It was located right off a freeway exit and the traffic to that exit backed up for miles. You would exit the freeway, make a right turn and go right into the Drive-Thu line. The interior was also packed with non-stop walk in trade.

Some Final Thoughts

You rarely saw any advertising for an In-N-Out Burger on TV or heard it on radio. Word-of-mouth was the principle form of advertising. Being a fan of marketing I’m always impressed seeing one company rise to the top by just providing a quality and more costly product while competitors take shortcuts.

It was a couple of months before the traffic had subsided enough for the wife and I to take the Drive-Thu experience and get our first local In-N-Out burger, fries and a shake. Was the wait worth it? Was there a big difference in their burger compared to others? From a strictly logical point of view probably not — but emotionally absolutely. If I returned to San Diego would In-N-Out Burger be on my “to-do” list. YOU BET!!