Why Customers Waited 8 Hours For In-N-Out Burger

At Idaho's first In-N-Out location, cars idled for hours to get a taste of the Double-Double.

I'm California born and raised, which is not something many people living in Oregon are willing to admit. I tell you this because I have had ready access to In-N-Out Burger for enough of my life that when a location opened in Oregon, I took one look at the line and thought, "nah." The longest I've ever waited in line was for the newly opened Jurassic Park ride at Universal Studios, and at the end of those three hours, I got to see a T-Rex. I have a hard time believing a tasty burger and bad fries can top that. But try telling that to the good people of Idaho, who reportedly waited hours to get a taste of the state's first In-N-Out.

With the news of a potentially eight-hour-long drive-thru line at the newly opened Idaho In-N-Out in Meridian, I wondered what it was actually like waiting so long for (no longer) fast food. I continue to eschew the long line at the In-N-Out in my state, but there are numerous Reddit threads dedicated to In-N-Out and its lines, so we have plenty of firsthand accounts to draw from.

Waiting in line at In-N-Out Burger: A hero’s journey

Many commenters across the Redditverse say that, yes, it is worth the long wait for your food. One person who I'm going to assume wants to be anonymous said, "It's perfectly acceptable to shank a few people in front of you to shorten your wait time for that burger perfection." 

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Some people have even gaslit themselves and others into believing "it doesn't feel that long." The not-so-secret-secret (besides the secret menu) is that it's faster to go into the restaurant to order than it is to do the drive-thru, but as someone who once waited at least 30 minutes outside the LAX In-N-Out on this same advice, I'd say it heavily depends on the circumstances of each location.

Most of these commenters are talking about their experience with In-N-Out's longstanding California locations. On the r/TikTokCringe thread (because of course one social media platform needs to dedicate significant time to dissing another social media platform), users judge those who have allegedly had to call off work to wait for a burger. But what's it really like to be among the people?

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New In-N-Out locations generate serious buzz

Default_Username123 (good username) says that new In-N-Out locations are intentionally staffed with "all star" employees to get things started off on the right foot. Here's an alleged firsthand account of how it goes down: "people from Cali who knew how to run stores well. It was super lucrative it was like a straight $3000 bonus pid for hotel flight rental car and guaranteed 60 hours a week at time and a half and then double time for anything over 60 hours" [all sic]. These employees would get three-month contracts to help get the busy new stores up and running. (This information is all based on how things allegedly worked at In-N-Out in the early 2010s, so it's unclear if this is standard operating procedure in 2023.)

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The Idaho State Journal coverage of the Meridian store opening began with listing people's reasons for braving the cold, dry Idaho winter (it was reportedly 30ish degrees) for burgers. Many people camped in cars or tents, huddling around makeshift fire pits for warmth, in order to get a good spot in line. One person planned on bringing the food to their daughter who had just given birth. Truth: The longest I waited for an In-N-Out, and the best it ever tasted, was when I was postpartum. However, it would have tasted just as good if my mom just brought over an actually fast order of fast food and I could have slept three more hours.

Others came to Meridian for the nostalgia factor, since they missed their native California cuisine. And many came to get a taste of In-N-Out's fast(ish) food for the first time ever. While many people interviewed by the media deemed the hype and the long wait worth it, some were overwhelmed by the crowds, abandoning their spot or complaining the entire way through the line.

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The Washington Post even used a quote from the clever Paullina Garcia as she waited in line as the story headline: "It's like the Hunger Games out here." (Fact: Garcia actually said "It's straight up The Hunger Games type shit out here.") The Post also compared the "hubbub" to a papal visit and a Taylor Swift concert, which manages to offend a huge swath of the human population: Catholics and Swifties.

Of course, people needed to snack while they waited for their meal, and I was a little concerned about the state of everyone's urinary tracts waiting that long in a car, until Garcia reported that she was allowed to abandon her vehicle briefly to use the bathroom (and get a little hat). So the wait was not entirely the post-apocalyptic hellscape I imagined. If Katniss can survive the Hunger Games, so too can intrepid fast food adventurers brave the In-N-Out drive-thru line in Idaho. And they didn't even have to kill anyone. As far as we know.

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