If you’re from Southern California, you might already know everything there is to know about In-N-Out Burger and its strictly made-to-order charm. For those less fortunate souls who live East, it’s time to learn about the quick-service chain that’s so good, even Thomas Keller has a thing for their burgers. As part of its ‘Month of Beef,’ Gear Patrol wrote an eye-opening piece about the history of In-N-Out Burger.

Here, we whet your appetite with the most interesting In-N-Out facts from the Gear Patrol story.

In-N-Out Created The Drive-Thru As We Know it Todayinnn

Although 1940s SoCal was essentially the birthplace of the fast-food burger franchise system we see every day, it wasn’t McDonald’s or Carl’s Jr. that built the first drive-thru—it was In-N-Out Burger. Company founders Harry and Esther Snyder built the first In-N-Out in Baldwin Park, a Los Angeles suburb, in 1948, directly across the street from Harry’s childhood home. Harry was the first to recognize the value of a two-way intercom system, and thus the modern drive-thru was born. The O.G. Baldwin Park location was later demolished to make room for a freeway, but there’s no denying that it changed quick-service restaurants forever. (Photo: Gear Patrol)

The Snyder Family Maintains Full Chain Control To This Day

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Unlike other fast food companies, In-N-Out remained a family business and refused to franchise. Harry and Esther’s son Rich—who headed In-N-Out from his father’s death in 1976 until his own death in 1993—had this to say about franchising: “There is money to be made by doing those things, but you lose something, and I don’t want to lose what I was raised with all my life.”

Family friend and former vice president of operations Mark Taylor took over in 2006, when Esther Snyder passed away. In 2010, control reverted back to the Snyder family when Harry and Esther’s grandaughter, Lynsi Martinez (now Torres), became company president.

In-N-Out Started As A Drive-Thru Only Restaurant Chain

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Since high standard of quality demanded that all food be made fresh-to-order, some In-N-Out locations experienced incredibly long wait times. Traffic jams were similarly a regular fixture at certain locations. City governments stalled on building permits for future In-N-Out locations because they didn’t want to deal with the municipal traffic headaches. Finally, new stores began adding indoor and outdoor seating to their plans, which alleviated the traffic problems and allowed the In-N-Out empire to keep expanding.

Employees Are Compensated Well Above Average

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As a private company, not nearly as much is known about In-N-Out’s financials as it is about many of the chain’s competitors. One thing we do know is that the company rewards its employees with wages that are well above any minimum-wage requirements set by both state and federal governments. If the American dream isn’t a successful family-run burger business growing and rewarding its fleet of workers for their loyal service, we don’t know what it is.

‘X’ Marks The Spot

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Have you ever noticed that pair of crossed palm trees forming an X at every In-N-Out Burger? That’s no accident, even though the majority of the chain’s restaurant locations are still in Southern California. It turns out Harry Snyder was incredibly fond of the movie It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. In one of the movie’s most memorable scenes, a treasure is found to be hidden underneath a “Big W” made of palm trees—the middle two of which form a big X. We all know a good burger is the best treasure, right?

[via Gear Patrol]

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