Throughout history, the fast-food hamburger has been mocked more regularly than it has been praised. From McDonald’s to Burger King, the item conjures up images of soggy buns, day-old condiments, and grayish slabs of lukewarm mystery meat. But regardless of the reputation the mass-produced beef patty has been stuck with over the years, there’s one chain that’s earned the undying respect of fast-food aficionados and Michelin-starred chefs alike—and that’s In-N-Out Burger.
Founded by Harry and Esther Snyder in Baldwin Park, California, In-N-Out has become the gold standard for fast-food in America since its inception in 1948. And while other chain restaurants have risen to prominence through ubiquity—opening storefronts on every street corner, and rolling out a never-ending array of highly publicized menu options—In-N-Out has largely taken the opposite approach. The company’s refusal to expand too far outside of the Golden State—as well as its much lauded “secret menu”—has only added to the lore surrounding the restaurant in recent years. The burger chain exists not only as a point of pride for West Coast natives, but a tourist destination for East Coast travelers who flock there to Instagram the Thousand Island-smothered, “Animal Style” fries.
But whether you prefer the Biggie Smalls of beef patties or the Tupac Shakur of milkshakes, In-N-Out is a bucket list experience for anyone who considers themselves a connoisseur of fast-food. The chain is perhaps the one location in the world where restaurant-goers might see Steph Curry and Drake waiting in line one night, and glimpse Thomas Keller hunched over a greasy booth in the back the next.
To many, In-N-Out is the fast-food joint of the imagination, the pinnacle of what humans can do with a deep fryer and a flat-top stove. And over the years, everyone from Padma Lakshmi to Machine Gun Kelly have weighed in on the allure of the Double-Double, hoping to convey to the masses what makes this fast-food chain stand out from all the rest. Here, in their own words, are what chefs, rappers, T.V. stars, and singers have to say about the indomitable In-N-Out Burger.