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May 13, 2012 05:15 PM

In N Out Burger question for a newbie

Okay, I have heard of these burgers for years and understand their cult following. They just don't make'em here in Florida. I will be in California this October and will have at least one. I have heard there are lots of ways that are not listed on the menu. What would you recommend on how to order it? Thanks

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  1. My recommendation? Don't! Perfect example of hype over taste. Tried it 3 times here in Texas and wont go back.

    26 Replies
    1. re: randyjl

      Right. It's your basic fast-food burger. Probably better than some (marginally), maybe worse than others. White Castles are far less fancy, but far more interesting.

      It's only a hamburger.
      And one of the most popular toppings is _hype_.
      Same with Red Robin, Five Guys, etc., etc. None are particularly 'special'.

      1. re: The Professor

        The Professor has it correct. I lived in SoCal for 30 years and never got the hype either but many people swear by them. Funny thing is when we did blind taste tests of burgers INO didn't do very well and it angered the devotees who thought INO would win hands down.

        1. re: RetiredChef

          The main thing is that everything is fresh, including the meat, at a reasonable price point. Its not going to blow away a burger at an upscale restaurant, but its much better than the other major fast food chains - Mickey D's, Burger King, Carls Jr., Fatburger, Jack in the Box, etc.

          As for ways to order - I'd stick with the plain Double-Double, or get the Double Double "Animal Style", where they put mustard into the patties and grill the onions. Possibly get your fries "Animal Style" as well - which are sort of like chili-cheese fries minus the chili but with enough stuff on them that you won't miss it.

          1. re: HastaLaPasta

            The "Fresh" claim is part of the marketing hype, and when you consider most chains use fresh tomatoes, lettuce, onions, etc. and Wendy's, Fat burger, Five Guys Shake Shack and a host of local chains all use fresh meat. INO is not breaking any 'fresh' barriers.

            As far as INO being superior to other chain burgers here is a blind taste testing that a group of so-cal chefs and foodies did comparing local fast food burgers.

            • We were given a list of 12 different burger places that the burgers "could" have come from and then each participant was to guess as to where the burgers actually came from. (NOTE: This group had done this tasting 4 years prior and INO did very poorly so we were pretty sure that INO would be one of the six burgers to prove that they were the best!)
            • Before the tasting you wrote down your top three burgers from the list of 12 possibilities and then you wrote down which three burgers you thought you could pick out of the list.
            • The taste tests were conducted blindfolded.
            • Burgers were cut into small squares and only the center of the each burger was served for consistency.
            • Burgers were served on toothpicks so you were not allowed to touch the burger only taste it.
            • Each burger was tasted twice, but every taster received them in a different sequence (example I may have had #3 first but the person left of me had #5 and the person to the right had #2).
            • We recorded the score for each burger.
            • Then we tasted all six again but in a different order from the first.
            • All burgers were single a patty, with lettuce tomato and raw onion, first tasting was no cheese, second with cheese.

            Overall Rankings (number in parenthesis are the ranking from test 1 /test 2)

            #1 Carl's Jr (1/3)
            #2 Del Taco (This was supposed to be a ringer) (2/2)
            #3 Fatburger (5/1)
            #4 Farmer Boys (3/4)
            #5 In-N-Out (4/6)
            #6 Wendy's (6/5)

            The most misidentified burger was #2 Del Taco, no one identified it as such. However some very curious things happened; 1) It was the most "incorrectly" identified burger of the group with the majority of people claiming it was In-N-Out's. 2) If you said INO was your favorite and claimed you could identify it you were much more likely to have picked this burger as INO than those who just said INO was okay. 3) INO aficionados rated this burger much higher than non INO aficionados.

            Another interesting note is that INO was the only burger who's numerical score given by tasters went down in the second round when cheese was added to it.

            Only three people identified the In-N-Out burger correctly in both tests and ironically 2 out of the 3 had proclaimed that they did not think INO was anything special.

            The second most misidentified burgers was #1 Carl's Jr, most people claimed it came from a local sit-down restaurant that was known for excellent burgers that was on the list of 12. Only one person identified it as Carl's Jr.

            I can tell you this, doing blind tastings is a hoot, we have done lots of these and the results when you don't know what you are tasting has always surprised everyone. Examples - Imitation crab cakes were preferred over real crab cakes by a 7:3 margin, the cheapest pasta in a taste test ranked the highest, Pepsi really does win the blind taste test, most people cannot identify strawberries without the sense of smell or sight, etc. etc.

            1. re: RetiredChef

              Interesting. How many testers were there?

              1. re: ricepad

                This was a popular tasting and there were over thirty tasters so the sample size was pretty decent. The group had done this before and about 4 years later did it again (neither of those times was I present) and each time INO was in the bottom half of the results.

                1. re: RetiredChef

                  Wow. Big population! Must have been quite the logistical challenge.

                  One comment on the methodology, however. Some burgers travel better than others, and since the samples were presumably given at the same location, burgers with a shorter 'flash' will suffer more than those with a longer shelf life. Of course, if the intent was to compare how burgers compare when you take them to go, the methodology works just fine. I have opined elsewhere that a Double Double is a better product than a INO hamburger or cheeseburger, and since the testing was limited to single-patty burgers, some of them were flagship burgers, and others were lesser stars in their particular galaxies. Still, there are conclusions to be drawn.

                  I'd like to be invited when this group does a beer or steak tasting!

                  1. re: ricepad

                    You comment is well taken, we were a person's house that had each of these places within a ten minute drive, six groups of two people left the house at the same time and drove to their assigned burger place. Ordered the burgers and drove home.

                    Actually time from when they left to the first tasting happening was about 17 minutes (I think???) After those were tasted, the groups then left again and bought cheeseburgers, so it was a pretty involved process but it is true that the burgers did sit for while, but they all sat for the same amount.

              2. re: RetiredChef

                In-'n'-Out was not represented by the Double-Double, so the results hardly matter.

                1. re: GH1618

                  Ah yes, one patty and the burger sucks but add another patty and it becomes an orgasm of the mouth - hey whatever mental gymnastics works for you ;-)

                  1. re: RetiredChef

                    "Single patty" is not a standardized unit of measurement. If you are comparing burgers made with patties of significantly diffetent size, that introduces bias. You haven't given enough information here to document the controls in the experiment. I tried to find the weight of a Carl's Jr. Patty online and couldn't find it. They have many products, one of them containing about 6 oz. Of meat in a "single patty" (In-'n'-Out has about 2 oz. patties). Comparing squares of equal size on a side, but different thicknesses (and weight) of meat is a pointless comparison.

                    It may be that some attempt was made to compare similar sized burgers, but you haven't documented it so I won't assume it.

                    Edit: I just looked up Farmer Boy's. It's 1/3 lb!

                    1. re: GH1618

                      The comparison was simply the basic hamburger and basic cheeseburger that each place offered, they all go the places regular condiment (sauce) and lettuce, tomato and raw onion only.

                      The assumption is that if the chain is serving it, they are proud of it and would like it to stand on its own merits.

                      1. re: RetiredChef

                        You can count on surveys such as these to be done without any understanding of scientific method, of controls or of confounding factors, therefore meaningless.

                        1. re: GH1618


                          You sound a little defensive - the fact is people tasted and people choose, you favorite didn't fare to well, that's life.

                          1. re: RetiredChef

                            No, I am not defensive. I rarely eat any fast-food burger anymore. I just object to invalid conclusions being drawn from flawed experiments. It is pointless to compare a two-ounce burger to a five-ounce burger, and absurd to pretend that the ratio of ingredients (meat to bun) is irrelevant. It's like an auto test comparing a four-cylinder economy car to a mid-range BMW. Of course people are going to prefer the luxury Eurosport sedan. It's not a meaningful or useful comparison.

                            A straight-ahead comparison is In-n-Out Double Double to McD Double Cheeseburger — similar weight and cost products. When I worked recently in a neighborhood with both nearby, the difference was obvious even to someone nfamiliar with either. At lunch time, the drive-through lane for In-n-Out was backed up off the lot and down the street, every day. At McD, there was never more than a few cars in line. That's a survey with a sufficiently large sample size to draw a meanongful conclusion.

                            That's not to say that there aren't better drive-through burgers. I'm sure there are, but I'm not familiar with those restricted to S. California (neither are most people). My objection is not that they can't be better, only that if they are not selling something in the same weight and price class as a Double-Double, and compared with that, then the comparison is a sham.

                            It's all just personal opinion, anyway. Nobody decides what they like based on somebody's survey. My favorite burger is one I make at home.

                            1. re: GH1618


                              I'm sorry that you feel that the INO standard burger is subpar (or should I say a sub-compact) and we shouldn't have compared it, I personally don't think it is but to compare the STANDARD burger that each chain has is a completely apt comparison. For you to assume that chains do not take into account the ratio of ingredients and optimize it for their offerings is silly, they do and they try to put out the best product they can in each price category. I also think it's very telling that you want a comparison between McD's vs INO, are you suggesting that for INO to come on top it can only tested against McDonald's?

                              I think you need to realize that this Blind Taste Test was done NOT once, NOT twice but THREE different times with INO being one of the burgers tested all three times including the Double Double being also tested alongside other burgers. In each test INO burgers came out in the bottom half of the rankings. I can see that this disturbs you, as it did for some of the INO aficionados that participated in the tests. But the facts speak for themselves.


                              PS Your assumption about the weight of the Farmer Boy's burgers that we tested was wrong and since that is what your argument really is about there isn't much more use to continue. You may have the last word in defense of INO.

                              1. re: RetiredChef

                                I replied to you and linked a "blind" taste test of an I&O burger (along with several other popular fast food burgers) done by a guy in Texas in another thread that I found. I&O bested the other burgers in that particular "test". His video showed exactly his method (along with his voice over explanation at each step) of how he went about this. So, to try and draw any conclusions from your test (as though it were any sort of definitive exam) is, undoubtedly, specious at best.

                                1. re: Servorg

                                  I remember, the video had ONE guy tasting vs 20 people on this taste test (NOTE: This test was run three times with different tasters and similar results) and you conclude our results are specious and this single guy in his single test is definitive?

                                  Just FY, there is another topic titled " Which fast food chain has the most cultish (and maybe even divisive) following?" here on chowhound, maybe you ought to weigh in there ;)


                                  1. re: RetiredChef

                                    Since Chowhound is all about what "one guy" thinks...each one of us..supposed blind taste tests prove absolutely NOTHING (my point). Any attempt at convincing us otherwise is a non starter. Maybe we need a "rational approach to making a point" thread and I'll weigh in on that one...

                2. re: RetiredChef

                  Can't argue with the results of a blind test. I can only tell you that to my taste buds (and to whatever other senses of mine might be influenced knowing where the burger came from that I'm eating), In-N-Out is the 2nd best chain fast food burger that I've had in LA, with "The Habit" being a bit better but not having many locations they're a bit out of the way for me. So if I'm succumbing to In-N-Out's marketing, who knows. It just tastes good.

                  1. re: HastaLaPasta

                    I haven't had Carl's Jr. but have had Hardee's and I'll take them over InO everyday.

                    I've had a Del Taco burger and it was surprsingly good. Also ahead of InO.


                    1. re: Davwud

                      The Del Taco burger was put in as a joke by the organizers, everyone assumed it would come in last so suffice to say we were all very surprised about this, especially how close it came to winning and how many people picked it as their #1 or claimed it was so good it had to be the INO burger.

                      1. re: RetiredChef

                        Mine was way cheesy. Again, I can't tell you how surprised I was with the burger.

                        Supposedly DT was started by a burger lover and a taco lover.


                  2. re: RetiredChef

                    In n Out is the most quality consistent IME. Carl's Jr and the rest, it really depends on the location and who is working. I've never gotten a poorly put together burger and In n Out. I can't say the same for any of the other fast food places. I can't stand a burgers that is a soggy sloppy mess of too much sauce and not enough fresh lettuce and veggies. Which is what I often end up with at the other FF places.

            2. re: randyjl

              I just had a friend move from TX and say the same thing - then he tried the burger in CA and had a completely different opinion. The important thing to understand is that what made In n Out special was that they had a 'never-frozen beef' distribution apparatus in SoCal, Vegas and a few spots in AZ. Everything was processed through the mother-warehouse in Baldwin Park. I guess they've tried to recreate that in TX but it's likely a somewhat different setup (maybe frozen, certainly different beef) out there.

              That said, In n Out is not the be all end all of hamburgers. Its more that its the same price as McD's or Wendy's and a vastly superior product. It's only slightly worse than Five Guys which is at least three times the price.

              1. re: randyjl

                born and bred in southern Calif.
                there are a lot of I&O's around.
                no one in our family likes them or eats them, requests them or cares to run in and get one.
                that said, it's often times the mission itself.
                it is for me anyway. I usually find when something comes highly touted, it's a disappointment regarding the taste. The Lady&Sons comes to mind. < but the quest to rent a car from out of state drive 137 miles one way,, get lost-end up in Macon Georgia and have crazed allergies....still it was the quest.

                you know what, I'd say give it a try. you may well love their burgers.but report back

              2. In and Out makes a good Fast Food Burger. They use good ingredients and make to order. They are not the end all of burgers you can get a much better one at a local Brewpub (though it will cost you more)
                I like an "Animal" style Double Double with extra crispy fries. Animal Style burgers include pickles, extra spread, grilled onions, and mustard fried onto each meat patty.

                1 Reply
                1. re: chris2269

                  Agree with Double Double animal style for me, but not for a first trip to In-n-Out. Double Double with extra crispy fries is a good first trip order.

                2. I'm hooked on their 4x4 with grilled onions, chopped peppers and the spread.

                  1. I've only had it once, in Vegas, and it was worth the hype. Close to the top of the regional burger chains, in my opinion. Their strength is in their simplicity; every ingredient tastes like something you can buy at the grocery to make your own simple burger at home. No weird-tasting, over-salted, or over-processed flavors. They are also very good at balanced assembly. The burger actually looks like the one in the advertisement and every bite gets you a little cheese, sauce, beef, onion. I would say just order the original double cheeseburger (whatever it's called) to appreciate the fresh ingredients.

                    Under no circumstances order the fries.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: RealMenJulienne

                      Since you've only been there once, did you order the fries extra crispy? If you ordered regular fries, I can see why you say don't order them. Fries have to be "well done".

                    2. Get a Double-Double Animal Style with 'well done' fries. Best fast-food burger I know of.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Boston_Otter

                        It is interesting how many people migrate towards the DD animal style / well done fries combination. It is almost like In-N-Out's version of the Big Mac combo.