Date: September 19, 2009
In-N-Out Burgers Corporate Office
4199 Campus Drive, 9th Floor
Irvine, CA 92612
To Whom It May Concern:
My intent in writing this letter is to make a suggestion to one of my favorite places to eat – In-N-Out Burger. Far be it for me to make suggest anything that would improve on an already perfect product, but recently I discovered information that somehow tarnishes my view of what could be argued as the greatest hamburger joint on the planet.
As a Southern California native, I believe I took for granted having an In-N-Out restaurant within minutes of driving distance. Because now, after having living on the East Coast for the past 13 years, I am well aware of the fact that there is not other place like In-N-Out. Like many fans living on the opposite side of the country, whenever I have an opportunity to travel to California or Arizona, one of the first places (if not the first) I go after leaving the airport is the closest In-N-Out. I have successfully introduced In-N-Out to friends and colleagues who have never experienced the greatness that is the food. I belong to the In-N-Out fan group on Facebook and own a number of In-N-Out products. My appreciation for In-N-Out furthered after reading the glowing blurb in Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation and Perman’s In-N-Out Burger. Both books further my discoveries of In-N-Out’s commitment and dedication to the quality of their service and products. This knowledge not only allowed me to proclaim that In-N-Out is one of the best restaurants ever, but there was now proof to back it up.
A month ago, while visiting Southern California on vacation, I became aware of In-N-Out’s use of High Fructose Corn Syrup. While this product had never been a concern of mine before, my focus had changed when entering a relationship with a beautiful woman who has a condition known as Fructose Malabsorption. Put simply, my girlfriend cannot digest fructose the same way as someone without this condition. Because of this, she must vigilantly avoid any product with High Fructose Corn Syrup. During our vacation, I had the opportunity to introduce her In-N-Out burgers and fries that she had always heard me praise before. Before our visit, I had assumed that because of In-N-Out dedication for the freshest quality ingredients there would no use of HFCS. However, in order to make absolutely sure we began to research whether In-N-Out used HFCS in any of their products. I placed a phone call to the In-N-Out Customer Service and was thoroughly amazed and impressed that not only did a human being answer after the first ring, but also the woman I spoke with was helpful and exceptionally nice.
I was informed that HFCS is used in three products: the secret sauce for the hamburgers, the milkshakes, and the pink lemonade (the lemonade, as is the case with fountain drinks in general, is not technically an In-N-Out product and thus does not reflect In-N-Out quality standards in the same way as In-N-Out menu items). I was very surprised. Everything I had heard or read up until that point had always led me to believe that In-N-Out uses the freshest quality ingredients. According to the website, “At In-N-Out Burger, quality is everything. That’s why in a world where food is often over-processed, prepackaged and frozen, In-N-Out makes everything the old fashioned way.” From my unique perspective of being a tremendous fan of the restaurant and having a close relationship with someone who must avoid HFCS, I was more than disappointed by this discovery. To me, it seemed illogical for a company to continually proclaim the quality of their products and their commitment not use ingredients or methods that similar restaurants use.
I do not wish to further the debate of whether HFCS is to be consider a ‘natural’ ingredient or not and I am fully aware of the reasons why companies continue to use this product. But I do feel that In-N-Out could do better. If In-N-Out were to announce plans to stop using High Fructose Corn Syrup, this would only go further to prove their commitment to the quality of their food and demonstrate to their customers the importance the company lays upon this dedication. Other companies, as large as Starbucks and as others such as Jason’s Deli, have made the choice to abandon their use of HFCS in an effort to provide quality products. This is my suggestion: I believe In-N-Out can perfect perfection by stop using HFCS in the secret sauce and the milkshakes.
I have been and always will be an ardent fan and supporter of In-N-Out. It is only through my passion for the company and it’s food that I write this letter. I have always believed that In-N-Out has continued to demonstrate how to run a company dedicated to service and quality while providing customers with low prices and good food.