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In-N-Out Burger: A Behind-the-Counter Look at the Fast-Food Chain That Breaks All the Rules

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  1,293 ratings  ·  228 reviews
“This book grills up an enjoyable read for both avid foodies and novice diners alike! Perman’s sneak peek into the fascinating history of In-N-Out is as good as the delicious burgers themselves.”

—Mario Batali, celebrity chef and author of Molto Italiano

A behind-the-counter look at the fast-food chain that breaks all the rules, Stacy Perman’s In-N-Out Burger is the New York
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 14th 2009 by Harper Business
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Average rating 3.66  · 
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 ·  1,293 ratings  ·  228 reviews

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James Thane
People who do not live in California, Arizona or Utah probably have difficulty appreciating the fanatic devotion that many residents of those states exhibit for In-N-Out Burger. But once you've eaten at one of their stores, it pretty much dashes your desire to ever eat at any other fast food restaurant. Just thinking about it makes me want to abandon this review and race down the street for a Number Three and a Coke.

Stacy Perman has done an admirable job describing the founding and (very) slow g
Mar 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a book challenge read or this would have never made it into my TBR pile. I am one of those people who "don't get it". I see the horrifically long lines at our local In-N-Out. I mean they are really, really, really long, so obviously there is a demand for this food. Then when it is finally your turn, you can order this burger or that burger. Their menu is extremely limited. We rarely go there because we would need to make several other stops at different places to satisfy the different p ...more
May 06, 2009 rated it did not like it
This book was so boring. I love books about industries and food, so this was right up my alley. But oh man. Oh man. So boring.

I am 100% convinced that this author had either a word or page quota that she had to meet. I wrote reports exactly like this...when I was in elementary school...and had to do 6 pages, double spaced. So instead of saying, "The colors of the Iraqi flag are: black, white, red, and green," (12 words) I would say something like, 'The flag of the country Iraq has many numerous
Aug 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
A history of the popular west coast burger chain. To be honest, not really my favorite.

There's some facts here, but it's shoved into the usual baby boomer narrative. No surprises. You can reconstruct the whole thing in your head right now except for the names.
Feb 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio-books
Loved the first half of the book about Harry and Esther, the beginnings of In and Out, hard work, the beginning of the fast food industry and life after WWII. So interesting! The last half not as much. The fighting over the ownership of the chain was sad picture the author painted then it ended with happy music (audio version) and some lines about things being “all is well”. It was kind of an odd ending. Overall it just left me with a craving for a double double animal style!
Derek Neighbors
Aug 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Perman does a great job telling the In N Out story. The privately held company has always kept their business close to the chest. Starting out in Baldwin Park in the San Gabriel Valley next to my wife's home town of Arcadia our love story kind of follows along the lines of In N Out. Expanding our family to the Southwest over time.

The book is a great for anyone interested in business. The Snyders were solid entrepreneurs with their "Quality, Cleanliness and Service" mantra. They refused to grow
Alberto Lopez
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
I very much looked forward to reading about this company. As the purveyors of fantastic and savory burgers, I was hoping to find a few great lessons from the narrative of the business story behind the company. Instead, I found a terrible tail that started with laborious stubbornness and ended with pure greed. I was probably better off not finding out. The author also demonstrated her lack of business acumen as she tried to hype the company's story. At one point, Stacy Perman clarified that found ...more
Mar 06, 2022 rated it really liked it
A thorough history and account of In-N-Out's history from the early days of Harry and Esther Snyder all in the 1940's all the way to 2006 and Esther's death. I wanted to read this book to understand the hype around In-N-Out. All I can say is its history is fascinating for its rise in the fast food industry to its family owned traditions and always rejecting IPOs. The Snyders always chose quality over quantity in terms of expansion to ensure that all In-N-Outs had Harry's vision of high quality a ...more
Mike Lewis
Jul 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, business
Just finished reading the book In-N-Out Burger by Stacy Perlman about the creation of the iconic burger joint. The book has some great stories about the original founders. The husband/wife team Ester and Harry Snyder worked tirelessly and with lots of integrity to create a burger joint focused on "doing one thing an doing it better than anyone else"

The book begins when they founded the company in 1950 and the depiction of that time in LA was really interesting to learn about. The automobile was
May 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know very little about the chain but found this to be a really interesting read. It traces the history of the founders and follows-through on their passing as well as looking at the next generation. I thought it was interesting how some of the "old school" beliefs still seem to remain with the company, ie the fresh cooking, higher wages, etc. I hope that continues.

It was surprising to find out the family apparently is/was fairly religious, because while I don't know much about the chain, I've
Briana Ford
Wow that was boring. I was excited about getting this book and it was an extreme disappointment. Instead of going into the operations of In-N-Out, how it's run, how it obtained and maintained its cult following, how it's considered one of the best places to work, how it's maintained its integrity over the years, etc. You get an unauthorized familial history of the Snyders. We know where the sons went to school and what positions they worked at the race track, and ooh a glimpse into McDonald's a ...more
Paul Elliott
Sep 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Way too detailed at times, but still an interesting look at the successful burger restaraunt. Now I just want a double-double animal style!
This book is 3 parts.
Part 1, my favorite, is about the start of Harry Synder's work. This part was very good, well researched, and I took many notes. There are ideas here about complacency, how much the environment matters, and what businesses should do. Any business owner could benefit from the first 150 pages of this book. Highly recommended.

Part 2 is about Rich's leadership of the company and part 3 was about Guy's leadership, court battles over who owns In-n-Out, and Lynsi. These parts wer
May 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Perman's 352 page account of the sixty-one year old INO empire is a fascinating re-telling of how it used to be in the United States before the corporate chains took over and turned the restaurant industry to sewage. Harkening back to the halcyon days of the post WWII 1950s in So Cal, when a mom N pop shop still had a snowball's hope in Hades of selling a superior product based on craftsmanship and customer service instead of sludge and 'tude, Perman presents an historically notable story that s ...more
Oct 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: food-writing
I have to admit I grew up in Southern California and did not realize how much a part of my life a simple hamburger chain would be until I spent more of my life out of California than in it.

For someone who knows a lot about in-n-out this book filled in a lot of holes and cleared up a lot of the mystery about how it all started and why it has not spread nationwide.

I will admit after now living here in Colorado for 3 years and pining away for in-n-out to come to my new home (they have since arrived
If you have never had an In-N-Out burger, you just wouldn't understand!!

And if you have never had an In-N-Out burger you are missing out!!--(they do have vegetarian options--consult their secret menu on their website)

The book is pretty good not only in giving a history of the chain, but also of the development of fast food post WWII and also a brief history of the development of the LA region.

The first half of the book is especially entertaining describing In-N-Out's cult status even among Holl
Aug 03, 2011 rated it liked it
In-N-Out is America in a burger chain, and as a New Yorker, I have been craving it constantly ever since I last traveled to Cali. Perman has written a book that creates equal parts craving and disgust, pride and shame in the fast food industry as a whole. (For example, hearing how Kroc cut costs and quality with McD's literally had me sick to my stomach.)

The Snyder empire in particular becomes something of a trilogy of Shakespearean drama. Comedy and tragedy blend together to form quite the grip
Jun 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who loves In-N-Out Burger
An amazingly researched book. Perman not only gives a rich account of the history of In-N-Out, as well as the founders, but she provides context of the time in which In-N-Out was founded. It is almost a history of burger joints and fast food in Southern California.

Given that the company did not cooperate with Perman, she did an excellent job finding alternate sources to fill in the gaps - of which there were many due to the Snyder family's disdain for publicity.

Esther and Harry Snyder seem to ha
Johnny Williams
Aug 20, 2009 rated it liked it
Just finished tonight. It was a good book to give you a factual public researched look inside a phenomenally successful rag to riches story of the famous burger company. You see the start to finish of the building of a strong --no nonsense fast food icon burger ( of which i am a member of the cult) along with the ups and downs of a family and its successes --love--and certainly tragedies as well--
What would have made Perman's book riveting--and rise to a star or two better-- would have been if s
I really enjoyed this book. It was a really easy read, maybe because I really want to know about how my family's favorite burger joint came to be. However, I was very surprised how much leadership insight I got from how the founders and their children ran the business. Botton line, they were people of principle.

Now about the burgers, I remember my first In-N-Out burger, it was when I turned sixteen, and it was in San Jose, Calif. After that every other burger I've had I compare to In-N-Out. So f
Jun 09, 2009 rated it liked it
Interesting journalistic view of In-N-Out Burger.
Jul 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
OK, I will admit that until I read this book I had never eaten at In-N-Out. But I went and I really enjoyed the food. Especially the fries. Hope the current generation doesn't change anything. ...more
Mar 05, 2015 rated it liked it
This fascinating look at the Snyder family and the burger chain Harry and Esther started also gives insights into '50s culture and the fast-food industry through the story of In-N-Out. ...more
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A most fascinating book. A good family with a hard work ethic started it. Two sons, one a daredevil (Guy) and the younger a responsible conservative business-minded person (Rich). Great history of the times when the fast food business in America took off (1950, 60s). I enjoyed the CA history, as well — In particular, the history of Forest Lawn cemetery parks chain, begun by Hubert Eaton. This is where the founder of In N Out, Harry Snyder, is buried. He died in December 1976. Book Includes a bla ...more
Feb 04, 2022 rated it really liked it
In-N-Out's focus on a simple, quality product, delivered by capable and motivated employees has fueled success since 1948. The book documents the industry context over the decades—from the evolution of the highway system, to the Burger Wars, to the rise of fast-casual—demonstrating how In-N-Out positioned itself for success, and did not shift in response to new trends or fads, even as family tragedy altered succession plans.

Like the gas-station convenience store chain Quik-Trip, In-N-Out's purs
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: business, fast-food
I listened to the audio book and it was not what I was expecting. This book is more a history of the Snyder family and how they got started selling hamburgers and started the In-N-Out chain it's much more a personal account of the family, it's history, secretiveness, tragedies, and the airing of it's dirty laundry.

I was expecting and hoping for more of a business type book, e.g. we kept the company private, this is why, this is our growth strategy or expansion strategy, and this is how we achiev
Jun 06, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Living in Texas I've had a few In-N-Out burgers but not many. (The Texas dispute is Whataburger or In-N-Out, and I'd take In-N-Out any day of the week.) This book is 11 years old so much more to the story. The chain has spread far eastward since publication.

It's an interesting read about the cult burger chain but much is repeated--example the location of store #1 in Baldwin Park. The book also goes back and forth in time which is somewhat confusing.

My heart really went out to Esther Snyder, co-
Scott Wozniak
Oct 30, 2018 rated it liked it
This story would be interesting to fans of In-N-Out and people in the restaurant business. But if that's not you, probably not worth your time. It's not especially gripping and doesn't really share any insights or lessons. They've had a really rough transition from the founders to the descendants, between the surprise air crash of one son and the drug related death of the other son. It will be interesting to see what happens as the only grandchild of the founders takes on leadership.

The author
Peter Beck
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Can In-N-Out Meet the Five Guys Challenge?

Perman provides a solid history of my favorite burger, but she needs to revise and expand her book. Writing about In-N-Out is no easy task given how secretive the family-owned company has been. Still, Perman could tighten her text and provide graphs that illustrate the chain's meteoric rise. The company has continued to expand despite the tragedies that befell the second generation as well as the court case that exposed the short-comings of the third.

Oct 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
I'm a fan of how-they-got-started business books, and this one (listened to on Audible) didn't disappoint. Up front, I'm not a fantatical In-N-Out consumer. I enjoy the burgers and fries, but if the drive-thru line is more than a few cars deep, I'll go elsewhere. That said, after listening to this book, I gained a better appreciation for the In-N-Out diehards. The founders' ability to zig when others zagged, and their desire to avoid hopping on the latest trends is endearing. I can see how the a ...more
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Stacy Perman is a business journalist.

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