Wednesday, May 18, 2011
In-N-Out Burger vs. Whataburger: Who reigns supreme?
It's Texas vs. California.
DALLAS It's been a week now that In-N-Out opened in the Dallas area, and the frenzy has dimmed ever so slightly. You wait a mere 30 minutes for your burger instead of two hours; the drive-through lines are a quarter-mile long instead of two miles; and one presumes that Danielle has stopped crying.
But there's been no slack in the debate between Texans versus Californians as to whose burger is better: In-N-Out or Whataburger? No other burger gets compared more often. Both are regional chains, both have a devoted following. Pretty much every time the topic of "In-N-Out" comes up, it'll start out as a simple declaration of preference for one burger or the other, before inevitably sinking into a Hatfield-McCoy-style feud.
There's even a Facebook page devoted to the topic.
What makes it hard to resolve is the fact that, when it comes to food, much of what you think is "good" is based on what you grew up eating; feed a baby broccoli from birth and he'll end up liking the stuff. But we'd still like to resolve once and for all which is better, and to that end, we've compiled a list of the key differences between Whataburger and In-N-Out:
We're talking about the signature visual that tells you with a single image where you are. At In-N-Out, it's crossed palm trees. Whataburger boasts the orange striped roof. Since palm trees are more emblematic of California, and are also prettier, In-N-Out wins the first point.
Both chains are Christian, but Whataburger keeps its love for Jesus on the down-low, while In-N-Out prints actual Bible verses on its packaging. Another point for In-N-Out.
In-N-Out: Even the most rabid In-N-Out fans acknowledge that their fries are second-rate. Most people complain they're too limp, and you have to order them well-done to get them crispy.
Whataburger: Whata's fries are so admired, some people say they're as good as McDonald's, the golden pinnacle of fast-food French fries where they fry their fries twice in order to inject maximum oilage into every morsel. Point to Whataburger.
The hamburg patty
Whataburger's burger tends to be pallid, without much contrast between exterior and interior. In-N-Out harps on the fact that its beef is "fresh" not frozen, a message repeated dutifully by its followers. It would be fun to subject them to a blind taste test and see if they could tell the difference between their beloved In-N-Out and a frozen patty; but fresh is supposed to be better than frozen, and so In-N-Out gets the point.
In-N-Out: uses regular ol' ketchup packets.
Whataburger: has its own recipe, served in a squared-off "dipping" container. Whataburger for the point.
The relative lack of specialness re: mustard
In-N-Out crows about its not-on-the-menu animal-style burger in which mustard is squirted onto the burger as it cooks. Whataburger on the other hand puts mustard on its burgers as a condiment. Both chains say this makes them special. How??? Total draw.
Both Whataburger and In-N-Out offer dull, airy prototypical hamburger buns, which they both toast. Whataburger tends to squish the top of its bun, which would be points off, but it offers a whole wheat option which brings it back to even. Another draw.
The um "vegetables"
Calling shredded lettuce and sliced tomato "vegetables" is something only a carnivore would do, but we digress. Despite the fact that chopping a tomato seems to rob it of most of its personality, and despite the fact that iceberg lettuce has virtually no flavor at all, plenty of burger consumers talk about the quality of the "vegetables." In-N-Out seems to get more raves for flavor while Whataburger's lettuce-and-tomato are praised for their crunchy texture. Can we call this a draw? Thank you.
In-N-Out is famous for its (not-so) "secret menu" which requires that you be in the know. In fact, 90% of why people seem to like In-N-Out is so they can show off their knowledge of really stupid-sounding secret menu options, which the staffers cheerfully accommodate.
Whataburger allows all sorts of additions/subtractions like cheese, bacon, grilled onions, and grilled jalapenos, which the staffers cheerfully accommodate. But it isn't some lame thing where you derive self esteem because you know about a "secret" item that others don't. For this, Whataburger should get 20 points, but we'll give it the standard one point.
Add it all up and you get 3 points for Whataburger and 3 points for In-N-Out. It's a tie, and somehow that doesn't come as a surprise.