It’s fair to say that In-N-Out Burger has earned a legion of loyal fans thanks to its commitment to creating the freshest fast-food. But even some of the chain’s biggest devotees may have missed a secret message hidden on its packaging. Interestingly, customers will find a series of religious sentiments upon closer inspection.
If In-N-Out’s use of secret messaging has come as a surprise to you, you’re probably not looking in the right places. In fairness, the notes are easy to miss; they’re hidden away on packaging that is usually discarded as soon as customers have finished their food. But next time you make an order, be sure to take a closer look.
The hidden excerpts are subtly written on the bottom of cups and on the paper wrapping that covers In-N-Out’s famous burgers. What’s more, the messages have been there for almost three decades, and they have a special meaning to the family behind the famous fast-food chain.
But before we get to the quotes, let’s take a look at In-N-Out Burger itself. The California-based chain has attained a cult status thanks to the customer loyalty it inspires through an unwavering commitment to quality. As a result, in 2016 diners said that they were most likely to recommend the restaurant to their friends than any other fast-food business, according to the YouGov BrandIndex.
Rather than being swayed by foodie fads, the folk at In-N-Out Burger have put their faith in a limited menu, which they never expand. Instead, some would argue that the restaurant has perfected its array of signature dishes, that – as the chain’s name suggests – focuses on the fast-food staples of burgers, fries and shakes.
One of In-N-Out’s most famous offerings is the aptly named Double-Double. This dish consists of two patties and two slices of cheese, sandwiched within a toasted bun alongside a garnish of onions, lettuce, pickles and tomato. And the burger has helped to win the restaurant a dedicated legion of fans over the years.
Making up the rest of the regular In-N-Out menu is a hamburger and a cheeseburger. Sides are limited to French fries which can be washed down with a soda or a shake. However, regular visitors to the restaurant may be aware of the “Not-So-Secret Menu,” which allows for a touch of variation on the chain’s classic offerings.
For instance, the Not-So-Secret Menu offers the Triple-Triple and Quad-Quad burgers. These are souped-up variations on the Double-Double for those with even larger appetites. There’s also the so-called Animal-style, which boasts grilled onions and a mustard beef patty, a grilled cheese variety and a Protein-style burger, which subs the traditional bun for lettuce.
Not only is the menu at In-N-Out Burger fairly limited, but the restaurant can only be found in certain locations of the United States. Staying true to its Californian roots, the chain has stuck mainly to the western half of America. They have locations in just five states: Arizona, California, Nevada, Texas, Oregon and Utah.
Given that the spoils on offer are relatively hard to get hold of in most of America, In-N-Out Burger has established an air of exclusivity. And those who’ve been lucky enough to visit the iconic chain earn bragging rights just by getting there. Furthermore, burger fans will often make the restaurant their first stop when touching down in California.
One of the things that seemingly keeps people coming back to In-N-Out Burger is the restaurant’s clear commitment to quality. The chain supplies its own patties to restaurants direct from its plants in California and Texas. It also only uses fresh ingredients and, as the In-N-Out website boasts, never freezes, microwaves or pre-packs food.
Maintaining the high quality of its products is also part of the reason that In-N-Out has decided against going national with its business up to now. By keeping its trading operations on the West Coast, those who run the chain can keep a close eye on the output – ensuring that every dish is up to scratch.
At first glance, In-N-Out Burger’s refusal to expand may seem counterintuitive. However, it seems to have paid off. By maintaining the quality of its food, the chain has proved a hit not only among average Joes but also with trusted names in the restaurant business – including a number of celebrity chefs.
Among In-N-Out Burger’s famous fans are the celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay, Ina Garten and Thomas Keller. The former first visited the fast-food joined when filming his show Hell’s Kitchen in L.A. And he later sang the chain’s praises in an interview with the Scottish Daily Record newspaper.
Gordon told the paper in 2008, “In-N-Out [Burger was] extraordinary. I was so bad, I sat in the restaurant, had my double cheeseburger then minutes later I drove back round and got the same thing again to take away.” And the British chef isn’t the only celebrity cook to profess their love for the fast-food chain.
Legendary cook Julia Child was one of the first celebrity fans of In-N-Out Burger and claimed to know the location of every restaurant between San Francisco and Santa Barbara. Meanwhile, the late chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain also once said that it was his favorite fast-food spot, according to D Magazine.
It seems unlikely that when the first In-N-Out Burger was opened in 1948 its founders could have imagined such glowing celebrity endorsements. That restaurant was founded in Baldwin Park – a blue-collar neighborhood in Los Angeles – by Harry and Esther Snyder. The operation was initially little more than a shack, but it’s here that the In-N-Out story got underway.
While the first In-N-Out Burger might not have been much to look at, its founders put all their effort into creating quality food. In those early days, Harry would be up before sunlight picking out produce at local markets to prepare his fare by hand. Esther, meanwhile, took control of the restaurant’s finances.
From the very start of In-N-Out Burger, the Snyders put their unwavering values at the heart of the business. They were hardworking and not simply chasing a quick fortune. Instead, it was the couple’s desire to build a stable family business that they could pass on to their two sons: Guy and Rich.
Then as the years passed, Harry and Esther oversaw the expansion of their business – opening In-N-Out Burgers across Southern California. But even as their restaurants multiplied, the couple kept a close eye on each one to ensure their exacting standards were maintained. And by the time Harry passed away in 1976, he and Esther had established 18 restaurants.
Following Harry’s death, his son Rich took over as the company president, while his brother Guy became VP of In-N-Out Burger. Over the next two decades, the restaurant chain grew exponentially – through California and into Nevada – to 93 restaurants. However, Rich’s tenure as head of the business would end in tragedy.
In 1993 Rich was killed in an aviation accident when the light aircraft he was riding in alongside four other passengers crashed near California’s John Wayne Airport. The plane had got into difficulty while following coming in to land behind a Boeing 757. It then plummeted to the ground after getting caught in the heavy aircraft’s wake turbulence.
After Rich’s tragic death, his brother Guy took charge at In-N-Out Burger. Though his time at the helm of the company lasted just six years until he too died – passing away from an overdose in 1999. It’s believed that Guy had become addicted to painkillers following a prior car-racing accident.
With both her sons gone, the presidency of In-N-Out Burger and its now 140 restaurants fell to Esther. And with her at the helm of the business, it continued to expand as it had done under Rich and Guy. She died in 2006 aged 86, at which point her then-24-year-old granddaughter Lynsi Snyder became the sole adult heir to the fast-food chain.
Lynsi was Guy’s daughter and Esther and Harry’s only grandchild. She inherited In-N-Out Burger through a trust but only gained control of half the company in 2012 when she became 30. However, five years after that Lynsi was given almost full control of the business.
And it seems that it’s Lynsi’s intention to run In-N-Out Burger in a way that honors the legacy of her founding family members. Like those who came before her, she has no intention of franchising the chain or making it public. Instead, she hopes to pass the business on to her children – just as Harry and Esther had.
Under Lynsi’s tenure, In-N-Out Burger has also continued to put staff at the heart of the business. As a result, the company is one of the few fast-food chains to pay employees more than the minimum wage – with Californian staff earning $14 per hour or above in 2019. Furthermore, that year Forbes magazine placed In-N-Out Burger at number 28 in a list of America’s Best Employers.
However, maintaining In-N-Out’s commitment to family values, staff wellbeing and quality foods aren’t the only ways that the company honors the legacy of its former presidents. That’s because, if you look closely enough at the fast-food chain’s packaging, you’ll find a series of hidden messages. And they are a lasting testament to Lynsi’s uncle Rich’s time at the company.
The messages in question are featured on different items of In-N-Out packaging. They include soda cups, milkshake cups and burger wrappers. All of them feature verses from the Bible, in a nod to the Snyder family’s Christian faith. The quotes were Rich’s idea, but they have been continued as a tribute to him since his death.
In 2019 Lynsi explained to The Christian Post newspaper, “It was my uncle Rich who put the Bible verses on the cups and wrappers in the early ‘90s, just before he passed away. He had just accepted the Lord and wanted to put that little touch of his faith on our brand.”
In case you’ve never noticed the Bible verses printed on In-N-Out Burger packaging, here’s what you’ve missed. The soda cups refer to John 3:16. That scripture reads, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that [whoever] believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Meanwhile, a line that’s printed on In-N-Out’s cheeseburger and hamburger wrappers refers to the Book of Revelation 3:20. It states, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
Elsewhere, a quote printed on In-N-Out’s milkshake cups nods to Proverbs 3:5. An excerpt of this scripture reads, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” The Double-Double wrapper, meanwhile, points to Nahum 1:7. That verse states, “The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.”
Interestingly, In-N-Out Burger isn’t the only company to have covertly based religious references on its branding. For instance, the fashion chain Forever 21 prints all its shopping bags with the words “John 3:16.” This refers to the same Bible verse that In-N-Out uses on its soda cups. And the extract has a special significance to Forever 21’s founder Do Won Chang.
In a 2012 interview with CNN, Do Won explained what the verse meant to him and why he’d used it as part of the Forever 21 branding. He said, “It shows us how much God loves us. The love he gave us, by giving us his only son, Jesus, was so unbelievable to me. I hoped others would learn of God’s love. So that’s why I put it there.”
However, while Forever 21 is a fashion chain, the use of religious references seems to be more popular among fast-food business. Similarly to In-N-Out Burger, Southern restaurant Cook Out is also known for printing Bible verses on its packaging. And the chain is also known to play Christian rock music in its dining rooms.
Elsewhere, the Texas-based fast-food chain Whataburger is also proud to declare its Christian faith. Many of the company’s restaurants display signs that state, “One nation under God.” This line comes from the Pledge of Allegiance, which was tweaked in 1954 to include “under God” to show opposition to Communism.
Back at In-N-Out Burger, the bible verses were seen as such an integral part of the business that Lynsi has recently added them to coffee cups and fries containers, too. The former bears words from Luke 6:35 which reads, “But love ye your enemies, and do good.” Meanwhile, the latter refers to a line from Proverbs 24:16 reading, “The wicked shall fall into mischief.”
For Lynsi, faith isn’t just an important aspect to In-N-Out Burger, but to the rest of her life, too. That’s because she found God after experiencing a lot of pain in her personal life. After the loss of her father as a teen, Lynsi turned to alcohol and drugs for a short time. She’s also seen three marriages end in failure.
As a result, Lynsi told The Christian Post, “I have learned so much through my broken relationships along with the ups and downs that come through marriage… I have gained insight and growth through both sides of the coin.” She added, ”I finally found that the deep need in my heart can only be filled by Jesus and my identity in Him.”