A Double-Double… In Portland.

Despite yearly rumors to the contrary, Portland’s lack of population density, a civic loathing of drive-through food, and the vegetable transportation industry appear to have conspired against us in ways that mean In-N-Out Burger isn’t coming to PDX anytime soon.

This means that the majority of Oregonians are left to drive downtown if they want to enjoy a good burger… and yes, I am aware of the fact that Five Guys are peddling their Wonderbread buns and peanut shells in the metro area, no thank you.

While you can get many good burgers in Portland (LBB and anything with “Joe” in the name come to mind) none of them taste like a ray of sunshine kissing the sea-spray in the way that a Double-Double from In-N-Out does.

For my money, there’s only one thing wrong with the Double-Double from In-N-Out Burger.

It doesn’t travel well.

The world’s best fast-food burger is a delicately crafted thing of fragile and fleeting beauty. Just twenty minutes after creation, an In-N-Out Burger goes from being the greatest food product of all time, to a congealed ball of mush that cannot be reheated into food.

This isn’t normally a problem since the average lifespan of a Double-Double is about 11 minutes:

You order it,

They make it,

You devour it immediately,

It’s why they call it it In-N-Out.

As an expatriate Californian, my personal problem is that I live roughly 6 hours from the nearest In-N-Out location. If I do happen to drive from Portland, Oregon to Redding, California I can have a burger… but I can’t bring one back for my wife.

Recently I witnessed my friend Matt’s attempt to revive an In-N-Out burger that had been captured in the wild and transported across state lines.

While his attempt failed to produce a high-quality result, he did manage to re-animate the hardened carcass into something edible. This was accomplished by slowly heating, then separating, the fused pieces.

Once disassembled, he individually reheated the portions meant to be hot, recombining them into a sandwich when finished.

During the process we realized that the problem with reconstituting a Double-Double lies within the irrevocable mess produced when molten cheese meets bread and vegetables. If we could in some way keep all of the “moving parts” separate from one another, then cut down the amount time lost in transport, it might be possible to perform the first successful In-N-Out Burger transplant in history.

Matt had unwittingly cracked open the genetic code that would produce the pathway to our success. We laid out a strategy so desperate that it just might work.

All I needed now was an excuse to fly to California.

In May I was scheduled to attend a conference in Orange County. While there is an In-N-Out location less than a minute from the Los Angeles International terminal, flying into L.A. would also mean driving the 405 freeway into Orange County around dinner time, or as Californians call it “Carmaggeddon”.

This made flying into, or out of, LAX a poor option for the other “business travelers” accompanying me.

It seemed that we were at an impasse.

All seemed stalled until my friend Gary provided us with the ray of hope that we needed. He revealed to us that the regional airport in Long Beach also met our criteria: an airport that featured an In-N-Out within a 5 minute driving radius, and a nonstop flight to Portland.

The regional nature of the airport also meant that security was simplified so we wouldn’t be waiting long to board the plane.

At the end of the conference, we rolled down Pacific Coast highway into Long Beach… for our date with destiny.

I went to the counter and ordered using the secret menu. After getting my own burger, I asked for a “Flying Dutchman and a Veggie Sandwich, Dry, wrapped separately”.

When Cynthia Zu, the employee taking my order, looked at me suspiciously I looked her in the eye and calmly stated, “It’s for science”.

A Flying Dutchman is In-N-Out code for an order of only the meat and cheese of a Double-Double burger.

A Veggie sandwich is exactly what it sounds like: Lettuce and tomato between two slices bread.

When my order came up I asked for two sauce packets (they keep them under the counter) and made for my plane with a single bag containing everything that I would need to reassemble an actual Double- Double in my kitchen, after the two hour flight.

At home I placed the Dutchman in the microwave oven and the buns in the toaster. Thirty seconds later I assembled the individual pieces, hit them with the sauce packets and presented my wife with the impossible: a reasonably fresh In-N-Out Burger in Portland, Oregon.

She let me have half.

Interested in performing a little “Burger Alchemy” of your own? I’ve provided a copy of the receipt and a picture of the packaging for your carry-on convenience.

Portlanders: A quick search of the In-N-Out Mobile App reveals that the best option for a special delivery of this nature is the City of San Francisco. The Millbrae location is less than a mile from the SFO airport.


Picture 1




12 Responses to “A Double-Double… In Portland.”

  1. Josh Hansen June 21, 2013 at 11:44 am #

    Groundbreaking stuff. Great work.

  2. Vicki Hansen June 21, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    I admire your commitment! Such a precious and meaningful gift for Janelle. And yes, Long Beach has become our go-to airport when we travel down south.

  3. Teri sramek June 21, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    Very funny John! I for one don’t want an In and Out here because then it wouldn’t be special! I go to the LA area at least twice a year, Henderson, Nevada 1 to 2 times per year so it gives me great pleasure to visit In and Out while there. It’s also fun posting to face book when there, so my friends can practice not coveting. By the way… Leaving next Thursday for a 10 day trip to In and Out country!

    • Jon June 27, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

      Enjoy the bounty!

  4. Marcus June 21, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

    Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

    I am an expatrioted Californian myself in a round-about way, (I did my master’s work there), and now live in the Pac NW where I have not had a decent burger in more than a decade.

    Proudly, I say, my record for eating at In-N-Out is 17 times in 3 weeks.

    I understand completely your unswerving devotion to this highly worthy cause. Thank you for your commitment to science.

    • Jon June 27, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

      That record of 17 in three weeks will probably never be broken! You are a true champion. Thanks for your comments.

  5. Mark June 27, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    FAR BETTER than my wife’s attempt to bring back McDonald’s from South Africa to our home in (McDonald’s-free) Tanzania. The cheeseburgers were edible after the 8 hrs, but the fries and nuggets were fit only for the garbage (or my two McD’s-starved kids).

    • Jon June 27, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

      Love it! If they ever open a McDonald’s in Dar, I can bet the McRib won’t be on the menu!

  6. Dave Nielsen June 30, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    Also being a SoCal ExPat, I have with almost religious-like fervor spread the gospel of In-n_out to family and friends near and wide. I actually get photos of people from all over the Country of themselves at In-n-Out, which they text to me so I can know my mission work is progressing. I have assembled these photos into two 24×30 framed collages in my office, and have enough to finish a third at this point.

    Just returned from a long road trip / camping trip / vacation down to Utah, Nevada and SoCal. I had In-n-Out in Sparks (NV) with my son, St. George (UT) (twice) with my son, as well as brother-in-law and nephew from Inidana, and Costa Mesa (CA) with my wife and four kids as we began our long trip back to Portland at 12:30 am.

    Saw this blog post and had to share my own experience similar to this, albeit with less science involved. I had a quick business trip to O.C. a year and a half ago. Was flying back out of John Wayne (O.C.) airport and stopped at the In-n-Out in Tustin, about 5 minutes from the airport. Although they don’t officially open until 10:30 am, I knew they really opened a little after 10, so I stopped by on my way to the airport before a noon flight back home. I ordered two double-doubles. One for my own consumption, one double-wrapped for the flight back home. I also picked up some of their free stuff – a white paper hat, a bumper sticker, and some location guides. After arriving home, I wrote “fresh as of 10:15 am today” and the date on the in-n-out wrapper, put all of the stuff in a box, encased everything in Christmas wrapping paper, and took it to the white elephant gift exchange my wife and I were going to that evening. no one at the party knew I had been in SoCal that day, and no one knew who the gift was from. But, it didn’t matter. After it was selected at random with the third pick, it quickly got stolen and then stolen again. According to out game rules, once a gift is stolen twice, it’s dead and the owner has it locked. That’s all the friend who acquired it needed, because he immediately unwrapped it, put it in the microwave, and then devoured it while we finished the game. I know it didn’t come close to the quality of your detailed preparations, and I will use your method the next time, but it was still a memorable event.

    • Jon February 14, 2014 at 11:09 am #

      This is one of the best uses of a transported Double Double in history! Love it.

  7. Ian O'Handley February 7, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

    This may have been the most romantic tale I have ever read or heard about. A tale so truly pure and good that I may have shed a tear or two. You sir are a true man, husband, and connoisseur of the good, nay great, things in life. As a fellow Portlander who yearns for the day when In ‘N Out will grace our city with its glorious burgers, I salute you and raise my middle finger to you, for I am now craving In ‘N Out. Good Day – I.O

    • Jon February 14, 2014 at 11:09 am #

      Hilarious! Have a great one man!

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