Growing up In-N-Out

October 28, 2013

In-N-Out urge, I’m talking about the burger urge here. 1972 was the first time that I visited an In-N-Out Burger and it was with my Dad. I was six. It was a small store with a drive-thru and a walk-up window.  It was located in West Covina, California not too far from where I grew up and I believe it was store number 2. It seemed to be an old In-N-Out store with its faded red and yellow neon sign even back then. I don’t remember everything about that visit, but I know that In-N-Out has been my favorite burger since that day. By 1974, a brand new In-N-Out was being built within walking distance of my house. I think they had about 16 stores by then. I considered myself lucky to have an In-N-Out that close to my house. I would ride my bike around the local neighborhoods looking for old glass returnable bottles that would fetch 5 or 10 cents each depending on the size. I would then take them down to Hy’s Liquor Store in Temple City, California (it’s still there) to cash in my bounty. Then it was a quick trip down Lower Azusa Road to In-N-Out. To my disappointment, that was the year my family moved to Las Vegas.

Modified In-N-Out Burger Bumper Sticker from the 80's

At the time Las Vegas had about 250,000 people in the whole valley and was a much smaller place than it is now, and there was no In-N-Out Burger to speak of. I still had relatives who lived in the Rosemead, Temple City and Arcadia area, who I would visit from time to time and of course I would visit my favorite burger stop, In-N-Out. Las Vegas was going rapidly, and new people were moving here from all parts of the country and most of them never heard of In-N-Out. I would tell people to go visit one if you were heading to Southern California. A few times a year my parents would go back to the old neighborhood to visit relatives. During one of these visits my older cousin, who lived in Rosemead, told me about In-N-Out’s “Animal Style” burger. I was the only one who knew of this secret menu item when ordering a Double-Double. Most people did not even believe that you could order something that was not on the menu.

By the time I started driving, in 1982, I had a 1971 primer grey Toyota mini pick-up truck with the modified In-N-Out Burger bumper sticker affixed to it. In-N-Out had many meanings. I remember seeing a knock-off one that said. “In-n-out in-n-out, that’s what the urge is all about.” My friends and I always wished there was one close enough to visit. It wasn’t until 1983-1984, when I was in high school an In-N-Out opened in Hesperia, California. near Victorville on the Interstate 15. Some of my close friends never had been to In-N-Out and were interested in trying them out. My friends and I would make the “Dash” or “Road Trip” to In-N-Out, and it was no small under taking. From Las Vegas, this was a 200 mile sprint one way, over 400 miles round trip. When we got there, we would load up our stomachs with as much as we could eat, totally stuffing ourselves ’til it hurt. We would get a few new In-N-Out T-shirts, and a stack of bumpers stickers to bring back to our friends. It was a long haul, and bringing burgers back home was kinda of fruitless, they got too cold and soggy on the drive, but we tried. The next day we would brag to our other friends about the past day’s road trip, wearing our new T-shirts and handing out a few bumper stickers as proof.

in-n-out sign

This is what the In-N-Out signs look like back in the 70's (Neon and glass bulbs)

Fast forward to 1992, I was still in college when In-N-Out opened its first non-Southern California restaurant in Las Vegas across from UNLV. Man, I was happy about that. It took a while for the burger to make its migration east, but they finally made it here. They still had the same taste I remember when I was young, but by now, the bumper stickers are all gone.

Even today, with friends online and spread across the country, when we get on the topic of best burgers, In-N-Out always comes up as a place to go. You know the term, “I was going there before you were born”, well it is true for me to say to most folks. But, to put things in perspective, my parents, went to In-N-Out, way back when they had one store in Baldwin Park the day they got married. That was back in 1954. Today in Las Vegas, I now have an In-N-Out Burger within a mile of my home, and the family and I make the “Dash” (1-mile) almost on a weekly basis. In-N-Out has always had great quality food. Like the slogan says, “Quality you can taste.”  and I have enjoyed it for my entire life. I hope when my boys grow up that there is an In-N-Out burger near them to share with their families.

Lake Mead Blvd and US95 In-N-Out Burger

In-n-Out Burger, Lake Mead Blvd and US 95 in Las Vegas

Links:
http://www.in-n-out.com
http://daviswiki.org/in-n-out_secret_menu

In-N-Out Burger on Urbanspoon

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3 Responses to Growing up In-N-Out

  1. jm wrote:

    That neon sign is classic!! Never been to in and out burger but hear a lot about them.Hope to go to one on the next trip to Vegas!!!

  2. Will Johnson wrote:

    Is that In-N-Out close to the small christian college Azuza Pacific? I was born there and In-N-Out is the best food I’ve ever had!

  3. Are you on Facebook? I wanted to post part of your “blog” on my wall. I went to the one on Tropicana, just off the I-15 today, and was impressed to see the store next door where you can buy all the souvenirs you want. I’ve lived in LV since 1994, but rarely go to this one. The closest to me is on Nellis and Charleston. They are all ALWAYS crowded, aren’t they? The first one I ever went to was in Hesperia, around 1984, on my way to Vegas from San Bernardino, by the way. Thanks for your comments!

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