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Rest in Peace, Esther Snyder

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On Friday, the world lost one of its culinary giants: Esther Snyder, 86, matriarch of In-N-Out. Back in 1948, she and husband Harry founded their first – and California’s first – drive-thru hamburger stand in Baldwin Park, off the 10 freeway. The Snyders expanded their operations slowly to Arizona and Nevada, and we’re happy they did. How much longer would that long drive back from Vegas on Sundays be without stopping at the In-N-Out on West Tropicana to nurse the hangover?

The Snyder's business philosophy was simple: "Give customers the freshest, highest quality foods you can buy and provide them with friendly service in a sparkling clean environment."

And the rest, they say, is history. What would the California-Nevada-Arizona burger landscape be without the Double Double? Or fresh-cut fries that actually taste like potatoes? Would we not know the taste of meat because we only ate at McDonalds? At In-N-Out, there are no microwaves or freezers – unheard of in the fast-food biz.

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Mrs. Snyder endured a lot of personal heartbreak throughout the years. She lost her husband in 1976; her son Rich took over the company but died in a 1993 plane crash. Her son Guy, who ran the business with his mother, died from an accidental drug overdose in 1999.

In recent years and with Snyder in failing health, there's been a behind-the-scene power struggle. A lawsuit was filed earlier this year accusing of Snyder's granddaughter Lynsi Martinez of trying to force her grandmother from her seat of power. Currently, In-N-Out remains privately owned. And while the Harry and Esther were running the show, they didn't take the company public or sell franchises - ensuring quality control at all their units.

Now that Mrs. Snyder is gone, we hope that the new folks behind the wheel remain true to the Snyder's foodservice principles. We love the fact that In-N-Out remains a smallish and West Coast thing, leaving our relatives in other parts of the country jealous. We frankly never want to see In-N-Outs in Talladega or Times Square.

Here's to you, Mrs. Snyder. Thanks for the great eats -- and especially your not-so-secret menu.