How In-N-Out Burger's "Animal Style" Got Its Name

Updated 04/29/19

James Leynse / Contributor

We love a good origin story, especially when it comes with a side of local urban myth. Lawrence Longo, creator, and owner of one of our favorite companies, Off The Menu, is the mind behind the app that unveils and curates secret menu items from restaurants around the world. We sat down with Longo as he relayed the inside scoop on how one of the world's most famous off the menu creations got its moniker: the In-N-Out "Animal Style" Burger. Keep scrolling to hear the tale. 


Harry and Esther Snyder opened the first In-N-Out Burger in 1948 in Baldwin Park, California. In the 1960’s the premiere location was frequented by rowdy surfer & skater teens. This clique of disaffected youth would commonly hang out in the parking lot of the eatery late at night. The clean cut employees behind the counter referred to them as the “Animals”.

One fortuitous night, an "animal" saw the main cook, Theo Roberts, cooking up a non-traditional burger. Roberts fried the burger patty in mustard, added grilled onions, pickles, and the regular spread to the In-N-Out Burger.

The surfer asked Roberts, "What's that?" Roberts replied, "Just ask for an Animal Burger, we will know what you want.” In 1969 on that summer day in Baldwin Park, California, the most famous secret menu item in America, the Animal style burger, was created.

The original animal style spread was on the bun. It wasn't until years later that the owner's son thought it would be tastier if the spread was on the lettuce instead. Thus, the winning formula changed forever.

In-N-Out is notorious among its die-hard fans for a litany of secret menu items. Among our favorites of the clandestine combinations is the Flying Dutchman: Two beef patties, two slices of cheese. That’s it. No lettuce. No onions. No bun. Word on the street is that this item was created for people to feed to their dogs at one of the original In-N-Out’s with walk-up service. That sounds plausible to me. Coolest sounding item on the menu.

Shop Off The Menu's grilling essential picks below. 

Lodge Logic Cast-Iron Grill Press $25
Big Green Egg Big Green Egg Wooden Egg Mate $202 $176
Off the Menu Flexfit Hat $30
In-N-Out Burger by Stacy Perman $14

Related Stories