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Fast food. Some people love it some people hate it. When I first came to the US, I didn’t use to eat fast food often. I was against it, and when someone mentioned going to McDonald’s or Burger King, I always rolled my eyes. But people change and taste too. When you come to a country that literally lives on fast food, you can’t resist. It is part of American culture and has a long tradition. American burgers and hot dogs taste differently than anywhere else, of course. I’ve become a lover of good burgers but remained an opponent of the commercial McDonald’s or Burger King. I can’t refuse a good burger or a hot dog, so I decided to take a closer look at the three fast-food restaurants I’ve tried and what’s the story behind them.

1. In-n-Out

This family business is the most popular fast food in some of the states of the western United States, including California. However, you will not find it on the east coast. In order to try the burgers from In-n-Out, you have to travel to the southwest of the country, specifically to one of these six states – California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Oregon, Texas, or Colorado. You will often come across long lines, but one of the goals is to make it as fast as possible and the chain has one of the best-rated customer services. So you shouldn’t spend a lot of time waiting, and if you do, you know it’s worth the wait. In-n-Out has even become one of Gordon Ramsay’s favorite places. So it’s no wonder I saw a lot of cars and people waiting in line. In the busiest hours, employees go to the drivers waiting in line and receive the orders in advance so people can have them ready when they arrive at the window. 

Their menu is probably the simplest I’ve ever seen in fast food chains. They only offer a classic hamburger, cheeseburger, and double-double, which is on the menu for 58 years. In their burgers, you will find only 100% beef, cheese, onion, salad, tomatoes, and their own dressing. Nothing more, nothing less. You can only find the variation in the “Not so secret menu”. The chain is proud that it does not freeze, repack or heat the food in the microwave. In addition, they do not have a microwave or freezer in any of their restaurants, which many people will certainly appreciate. The In-n-Out burger is specific in that it keeps its old-fashioned style, with attention to purity, quality, and keeping everything simple. As simple they only have three burgers on offer. And as one of the few fast-food chains, they pay their employees more than the minimum wage, which most fast foods don’t do. 


Why is it called In-n-Out and what is the story behind it?  

The first drive-thru hamburger stand was opened in 1948 by a Californian couple, Harry Snyder and his wife. They started using a unique two-way speaker box so the cars could just drive in, receive the food and drive out. And that was actually the whole idea of In-n-Out, people didn’t even have to park their cars to get the food. Since 1972 they have started the tradition of planting crossed palm trees in front of fast food as a reference in a movie. It should symbolize a founded treasure. By 1976 there were already 18 restaurants, and when the owner passed away, his sons took over the business. Almost one decade after, In-n-Out built a university for entry-level managers. This way, they wanted to keep the highest quality food, cleanliness, and customer service. In the same year, they started the In-n-Out Burger Foundation for abused kids. The first store outside of California was opened in 1992 in Las Vegas, Nevada. They even created a replica of the first drive-thru restaurant in Baldwin Park, California. In-n-Out established another foundation to help families and individuals affected by abuse and together they have three. The current owner is the only granddaughter of the founders of In-n-Out.

If you are more interested in this family business, consider reading the book In-n-Out burger.

2. Nathan’s famous 

I came across this fast food by accident while walking on Coney Island in New York. It was my first American hot dog on my first day in America and I have to say only then I understood why Americans love their hot dogs so much. It is diametrically different from ours, the bread is extra soft and a bit sweet at the same time, the sausage is well roasted and you can feel more meat in it, the cheese sauce is incredibly tasty and hot dogs are often served with raw or caramelized onions. Nathan’s Famous is a very popular fast food in America, especially in New York. They say they are the flavor of New York. But to taste their hot dog, you don’t have to go all the way to Coney Island, you can also have it right in Times Square or in several places in Manhattan and be ready for long lines.


How did it all start? 

The fast food was first opened in 1916 by a Polish immigrant working on Coney Island in Brooklyn. At a time when hot dogs cost 10 cents in America, Nathan’s asked for 5 cents. At a time when hot dogs cost 10 cents in America, Nathan’s asked for 5 cents. He served hot dogs with a special sauce and over time more and more people started coming to him. Even Al Capone, a famous Italian mobster, went to Nathan’s for a dog. His food became so popular and iconic that when President Roosevelt went to visit the Kind and the Queen of England he took something traditional of the American – Nathan’s hot dogs. Nathan’s Famous is also popular for organizing Hot Dog Eating Contest. The current record is 75 hot dogs. And if you want to visit Nathan’s famous and “travel through time,” the one mentioned on Coney Island is the first and original. 

If you are not headed to New York, you can try their own recipes at home. 

A documentary has even been made about Nathan’s, and since the chain is over 100 years old, there is definitely a lot to see.

3. Pink´s hot dogs 

Another fast food I came across while in the USA, this time in LA. Due to being located near studios such as Paramount, Universal, and Disney, it has become a popular place for celebrities. And that’s why they also have a celebrity wall of fame inside with photos and autographs of more than 200 celebrities. They sell more than 2,000 hot dogs and 200 burgers a day, so don’t be discouraged by the long line. Pink’s hot dogs have been celebrating for over 80 years. Their claim is “A Hollywood Legend Since 1939” and is best known for hot dogs and burgers. They have about 17 hot dogs on offer.  


Their pink story 

Another successful family business. They started with a simple chili dog and increased sales little by little. The family has so far created about 35 species of different hot dogs, and since their location is right in Hollywood, their wall of fame initially served actors who hoped to be seen there by directors and producers who used to eat there. Today, the restaurant offers hot dogs with several celebrity names, who could be also seen in the restaurant. Their restaurants are located in several states of the US and one in the Philippines.

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