The family-owned In-N-Out burger chain, founded in 1948, may be relatively small by fast food standards, but it has developed almost something of a cult following in the six states where it operates (Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Texas and Utah). Many In-N-Out outlets commonly have long lines of cars making their way through drive-thru lanes at all hours of the day, and In-N-Out aficionados who hail from other parts of the country dream of the day the chain might expand to their states.
Some of those fans were taken aback at the end of August 2018 when California-based journalist Gabe Schneider posted a “Contribution Report” filing on Twitter showing that the restaurant chain had donated $25,000 to the California Republican Party as 27 August 2018:
— Gabe Schneider 🗞 (@gabemschneider) August 29, 2018
Predictably, the news prompted calls for boycotts of the chain from outraged partisans, such as California Democratic Party chairman Eric Bauman:
Et tu In-N-Out? Tens of thousands of dollars donated to the California Republican Party… it’s time to #BoycottInNOut – let Trump and his cronies support these creeps… perhaps animal style!https://t.co/9zkdFaG5CJ
— EricBauman (@EricBauman) August 30, 2018
As Brittany Martin noted in Los Angeles magazine, however, this news wasn’t exactly a revelation to those who have been following California business and politics:
It’s certainly not the first In-N-Out Republican contribution. The fast food chain has a long history of donating to political causes. In 2017 and 2016, the company donated $30,000 per year to the California GOP for general party expenses.
As others observed, the company’s political contributions and operations aren’t necessarily staunchly Republican:
[I]t’s not clear that the company’s current leadership is nearly as aligned with the Republicans as that of Chick-fil-A, a company that has publicly come out against LGBT rights. According to campaign finance filings, In-N-Out Burger also donated $30,000 last year and $50,000 this year to Californians for Jobs and a Strong Economy, a political action committee that supports business-friendly Democratic candidates.
In-N-Out’s reputation for fantastic burgers is bolstered by its policy of paying more than minimum wage and offering competitive benefits for fast food workers.
One comment quoted by Newsweek might best sum up the somewhat perplexed public response to this information:
Some people were confused about the reason for the boycott but ultimately got on board. “Are we just boycotting random things now? Ok, sounds good … let’s go to #BoycottInNOut now, me fellow Texans. But really I do think #BoycottInNOut should be a thing, I’ve seen way too many popping up here in TX.”