Many thousands of people recently signed a Change.org petition urging In-N-Out to add a veggie burger to the menu. This is a reasonable request. Several burger chains—McDonald’s, Burger King, White Castle—have added vegetarian-friendly burger options.
It is also reasonable for In-N-Out to completely ignore this petition. In-N-Out is going to be fine. No fast-food chain has experienced such prolonged success, and that success is because of a militaristic adherence to consistency. Adding a new menu item—especially something like a veggie burger that would require new purveyors, additional staff training, and new facilities to avoid cross contamination—would put that consistency at risk.
In-N-Out will never add a veggie burger to their menu. But they may be willing to compromise.
(DON’T WAIT! SIGN THIS PETITION THAT I WROTE ASKING A FACELESS CORPORATE ENTITY TO AMEND THEIR MENU BY PUTTING FRENCH FRIES IN A BUN TO BE MORE INCLUSIVE AND ALSO ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY AND ALSO IT TASTES REALLY GOOD!)
The one thing that has changed at In-N-Out is their secret menu. New items like the Flying Dutchman—a duo of burger patties served bun-less with a single slice of melted American cheese in the middle—will occasionally spring to life.
With secret menu items, In-N-Out doesn’t have to change anything about their current system and they get to create a unique shared experience for in-the-know diners. Every new secret menu item is a branding victory.
There is an item that can be easily added to the secret menu canon that would completely solve the veggie burger problem: The Frying Starchman.
(MAKE SURE IN-N-OUT HEARS US LOUD AND CLEAR! IT IS ONLY THROUGH UNITY AND MOBILIZATION THAT WE CAN ENACT REAL CHANGE AND END BEEF-BASED BURGER HEGEMONY ONCE AND FOR ALL! THE FRYING STARCHMAN WILL RISE!)
The Frying Starchman is a toasted bun filled with iceberg lettuce, tomato, raw onion, spread, and a brick of Animal Style fries (potato sticks topped with spread, caramelized onions, and melted American cheese) smashed in the middle. I made it up one night coming home from a bar with my vegetarian college roommate. Seriously, ask Shiva—The Frying Starchman is delicious.
It is not a perfect solution. The Frying Starchman is not a complete source of protein like many veggie burgers would be, and it is more calorically dense than an actual cheeseburger. As I said earlier: This is a compromise.
(SHOW IN-N-OUT PRESIDENT LYNSI SNYDER—COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THOUSANDS OF PAPER-HATTED TROOPS—THAT OUR VERY LOOSE ALBEIT REASONABLE DEMANDS WILL NOT BE IGNORED! EXCEPT THEY PROBABLY WILL BE IGNORED FOR REASONS EXPLAINED EARLIER IN THIS ARTICLE BUT WHATEVER, MAN!)
You currently have to assemble The Frying Starchman yourself by combining an order of animal style fries with a burger-less burger. It is often a nightmare to order and a mess to create. I know this because I have gone through the painstaking process of creating roughly half of a half of a dozen Frying Starchmans to perfect the ratios.
I am not a vegetarian (see: HERE, HERE, and HERE). I have no dog in this fight. This is about inclusivity and affording those who live an alternative dietary lifestyle the same rights to high-calorie foods dripping with pink mayonnaise as the rest of us.
If In-N-Out is willing to add the Frying Starchman to the official secret menu, it would be an important first step towards including vegetarians in the conversation. It would be a universal invitation to the animal style club.
Together, we can make a difference.