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The Great Debate: In-N-Out Burger vs. Shake Shack

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted here (apologies!). Since I last wrote on here, I worked as a food and drink writer with The Daily Meal and also launched my very own website: Samantha Lea. But I am back here today to report something extremely important: I have finally visited In-N-Out Burger and can finally weigh in on the great debate: Shake Shack vs. In-N-Out.

I recently met up with my parents in California and after asking them why we had never visited In-N-Out before, they agreed to go and drove straight there when they picked me up from the airport.

In case you may not know, the debate between these two burger chains are quite fierce. Shake Shack first started out in New York under restaurateur Danny Meyer and went public in January 2015. As of writing this, there are 129 locations around the world.

In-N-Out currently has 313 locations, however they are all native to the Southwest and Pacific regions of the U.S. and remains independently owned. That being said, In-N-Out is the winner in my book, and for a few reasons.

Prices: In-N-Out vs. Shake Shack

First, you cannot beat In-N-Out’s prices. A Double-Double cheeseburger is $3.45 and comes with two beef patties with no additives, fillers, or preservatives; two American cheese slices; lettuce; tomato; onions (sliced or grilled); and the special sauce between two toasted buns. It’s the same recipe they have used since 1948, so we’re talking about almost 70 years of an unchanged menu. A Double ShackBurger at Shake Shack costs $8.35—the single is $5.55. It’s served with two all-natural Angus beef patties, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and ShackSauce on a non-GMO potato bun.

Sauces: In-N-Out vs. Shake Shack

Speaking on the ShackSauce, I cannot explain my distaste for it. I have no idea what’s in it, however the internet tells me that it’s mayo, ketchup, yellow mustard, dill pickles, garlic powder, paprika, and a pinch of cayenne, but for me the garlic flavor comes out too much. On the other hand, In-N-Out’s sauce supposedly contains mayo, ketchup, mustard, relish, Worcestershire sauce, white wine vinegar, salt, and sugar. I’ll take Worcestershire sauce over garlic powder any day.

Toppings: In-N-Out vs. Shake Shack

I need to take a moment to acknowledge how much lettuce In-N-Out adds to the burgers and how they are so fresh and crunchy, as well as the tomatoes. I never thought I could appreciate lettuce and tomato on a burger, but In-N-Out sure made me a believer.

Fries: In-N-Out vs. Shake Shack

I will say that although I appreciate the In-N-Out’s fries are not crispy and are fried in cholesterol-free vegetable oil, I cannot deny that Shake Shack’s crinkle cut fries are delicious, as an avid French fry eater. I liked ordering the animal style fries at In-N-Out, but it was a bit much for me. The cheese fries at Shake Shack are more of my speed.

Milkshakes: In-N-Out vs. Shake Shack

I ordered the black and white shake at In-N-Out, which is chocolate and vanilla, and it tasted malty and well-balanced. Shake Shack may have more flavors, but I find them too decadent and sickeningly sweet for my liking. However, Shake Shack does make a mean lemonade, and I will give them that.

Simple really can be better sometimes, and I completely respect In-N-Out for not going public. Even if it would mean more money for them, I believe that it compromises the integrity and quality.

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Food for Thought: Food Regulations

With elections coming up, voters have a lot on their plates to mull over. One of the issues is of the recent approval of banning sugary drinks over 16 ounces in New York state to reduce obesity rates.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York believes that there is a correlation between sugary drinks and obesity. While this is true, obesity is not just caused by soft drinks. It is based on the intake of everything else we feed our bodies.

The root of the problem, in my opinion, is what is placed in our foods.

Food these days are heavily processed, especially fast food. Fast food is cheap and convenient because we are a society that is always on the go.

This Business Insider map shows how many fast food restaurants there are in all 50 states. In New York, there are 17,461. That is a major contradiction for a nation that is trying to reduce obesity.

Fast foods are not the only culprits of unhealthy eating. There are many other foods that are marketed to be “good” for us and evidently cause more harm.

It is unreal how many unpronounceable words there are on ingredients lists and how many chemicals are placed in our foods.

For example, the drink Sunny Delight is marketed as a drink that “gives you a kick of Vitamins C and B1. And it’s good for you…” according to the Sunny D website. That’s nice, but what is actually in a bottle of Sunny D?

Water, High Fructose, Corn Syrup and 2% or Less of Each of the Following: Concentrated Juices (Orange, Tangerine, Apple, Lime, Grapefruit). Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Beta-Carotene, Thiamin Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Natural Flavors, Food Starch-Modified, Canola Oil, Cellulose Gum, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Sodium Benzoate To Protect Flavor, Yellow #5, Yellow #6

This isn’t even a soft drink and it does not take a large amount of it to be deemed as unhealthy. Sure, there are vitamins listed. But, there are other ways to receive them than to drink a juice with high fructose corn syrup and canola oil.

While we’re on the subject of high fructose corn syrup, contrary to what the Corn Refiner’s Association says about it, sugar is NOT sugar. High fructose corn syrup is not healthier just because it is made out of corn.

According to a Princeton University Research team, high fructose corn syrup leads to considerably more weight gain. The 2010 study was conducted on rats. One group received rat chow with HFCS and another without. The study found that the rats gained a significant amount of weight to the point that they were obese.

This study explains the differences between HFCS and sucrose. Sucrose is half fructose and half glucose. HFCS has a higher content of fructose, hence its name. The fructose molecule in HFCS is unbound and absorbs in the body faster, whereas the fructose in sucrose is bound and requires an extra step to be metabolized. Faster absorption leads to greater body fat.

HFCS is found in sugary beverages and all sorts of everyday foods such as certain cereal, ketchup, yogurt, and bread.

There is still a prevalent issue of unhealthy foods out there that can lead to obesity. It is not just in large beverages. Foods marketed as “healthy” are sometimes not.

The government should not regulate what we are allowed eat. Rather, it should regulate what is added into our foods and cut back on unhealthy influences, such as fast foods restaurants.

If only there was a way to shut down all of these big corporations that add junk into our everyday foods and start over completely fresh. No pesticides, no chemicals, no big words in the ingredients. Just back to the basics of plain, raw, and simple. We may think we are eating healthy, but the proof is in the HFCS-filled pudding.

So, how can we regulate our own food?

  • Check the ingredients list of whatever you buy. If you can’t pronounce it, it’s probably not good for you.
  • Try to eat as much raw, unprocessed food as you can.
  • Buy organic and/or local.
  • Don’t count calories. Instead, take note of the ingredients.
  • Enjoy everything in moderation. I know I run a food blog and it may look like I am eating my words (almost literally), but indulge within reason.

Disclaimer: I am by no means a health food expert or nutritionist. Everything stated is based on research and all opinions are my own.