This is where my grandfather and his wife lived. It’s a retiree’s paradise… and I didn’t mind it myself. They had a swimming pool and grandpa was an electronics nut. He had a satellite dish (one of those monster deals before the little ones were cool) and all sorts of mini-gadgetry from RadioShack. He bought me my first computer which helped get me on the road to my current profession.
Later in life, I’d love going out there because of all the golf there was to play.
But, of course, this story isn’t about all that. It’s about a curious American west coast institution known as In-n-Out Burger.
At the time, I knew of In-n-Out Burger mostly from it being featured in the The Big Lebowski. After that film came out, I heard more and more (on the opposite side of the country) about how great their burgers were — and about their “secret menu.” We also heard that there were absolutely no plans, whatsoever, to bring the institution out east.
On my previously-referenced trip to the Grand Canyon, I stayed in downtown Phoenix. As anyone who’s been to the American Southwest knows, you don’t really walk anywhere. You need a car and you will need to get on the highway. I was driving down it one day and there it was. The big red sign with the yellow arrow. It was the middle of the afternoon so it was the perfect time: less crowded.
I ordered a double-double animal style (knowledge of the secret menu helped) and paused a moment to remember what was likely to be a mind-blowing hamburger experience.
The verdict: It was pretty good. Definitely not great.
Yeah, I mean, certainly good for a hamburger but not at all deserving of the wonder it carries across the country. A few years later I’d go to Five Guys Burgers and Fries and be much, much more impressed. The real problem was their heavily-praised, cooked-on-premises bun: it was fresh, sure, but way too sweet. It took away from the whole experience and overshadowed everything else. It was almost like a dessert sweet roll.
Sorry In-n-Out, you fell victim to your own hype. You were too built up in my mind to perhaps ever meet (let alone exceed) expectation. But best of luck out there! Looks like you’re doing fine.
Obviously, all those hamburgers have not been good for my figure. Perhaps some fresh fish and nice jogs on white sand beaches in the Bahamas would help there. If you’d like to help me get there and enter to win a trip to a paradise island and $15,000, share this story with your friends and click on through to enter TomTom’s Map Paradise contest.