This article is part of our Cocktail Chatter series, where we dive into the wild, weird, and wondrous corners of history to share over a cocktail and impress your friends.
This is why we can’t have nice things.
In-N-Out, the 75-year-old West Coast burger chain with a cult following, is largely known for its customizable menu. You can get your burgers animal-style (smothered in the house’s creamy sauce and griddled onions), protein-style (no bun, wrapped in lettuce), or stacked high with two, three, or four patties. But there’s actually one fabled reason that a 4×4 — which is In-N-Out speak for a burger containing four patties and four cheese slices — is the heftiest sandwich you’ll find at the drive-through today.
Once upon a time, hungry guests could devour a 10×10 or a 20×20 without any issue from corporate. But according to internet lore, one customer’s gluttonous order changed this policy forever: the infamous 100×100. The blog post alleging the incident — published in January 2006 and written by an anonymous blogger claiming to have participated in the indulgence — still lives on Blogspot. “What started as a drunken, silly weekend… became quite legendary,” the blogger wrote.
On Halloween night in 2004, a group of eight friends — including the original poster and late Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh — allegedly visited an In-N-Out in East Las Vegas. One of the friends, identified only as “Andy,” begged the group to help him eat a 100-patty burger.
The order came to a whopping $97.66, with a base charge of $2.65 for a double cheeseburger and 90 cents per additional patty. (The author claims that employees said they’d never seen an order over 24×24 at that particular location.) The final result: 100 patties layered with 100 melted slices of American cheese, all packaged not-so-neatly between two greasy buns. The monster of a burger contained nearly 20,000 calories, and the eight reluctant diners wolfed it down over the course of two hours. When nearing the end of the stack, the author says the group began feeling sick, and one person even ended up vomiting. The squad did, though, finish the entire sandwich.
The blog post went viral — as much as anything could go viral in 2006 — and was reposted by food accounts and meme blogs across the early-aughts internet. Legend says that this post ended up being the final straw when it came to In-N-Out’s generous policy: By the end of 2006, the company had instituted a nationwide policy banning orders with more than four patties per burger.
Despite the change, some managers will accommodate a fatter sandwich if you can get into their good, greasy graces. But even if you can, that doesn’t mean that you should.