Food: What Really Comes With In-N-Out's Flying Dutchman

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In-N-Out is one of those iconic regional fast food chains people wish were national. These speedy burger joints are only found in a handful of states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, and Utah (via In-N-Out). Despite its limited range, or perhaps in part because of it, In-N-Out is popular with many living in or visiting the American Southwest.

In-N-Out sign on building © George Rose/Getty Images In-N-Out sign on building

Underlining this, a 2022 study of quick service restaurants and fast casual dining conducted by Market Force Information found that In-N-Out was the preferred place for diners to go to get a burger (via Restaurant News). Reasons for this high level of satisfaction included the atmosphere, cleanliness, employee friendliness, food quality, monetary value, and service speed.

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In-N-Out's menu -- classically streamlined with burgers, fries, hot chocolate, soda, and shakes -- is naturally another appeal of the chain. There's even a "Not So Secret Menu," which lets customers slightly modify their orders in terms of quantity and specific ingredients. This includes the double meat, as well as the 3x3 (three patties, three cheese slices), and the 4x4 (four patties, four slices of cheese), as well as Protein Style (lettuce replacing the buns), Grilled Cheese (no patty), and Animal Style (extra spread, pickles, and grilled onions). Did you know, though, that there are some extra secret items available at In-N-Out not openly acknowledged by the company?

Super Secret Menu: The Flying Dutchman Revealed

Grilled onions, peppers topping Flying Dutchmans © Reddit Grilled onions, peppers topping Flying Dutchmans

In-N-Out's secret menu isn't exactly unheard of, but you may not know everything that's on there, or what strange orders like "The Flying Dutchman" will actually get you. Regardless of its dramatic name, the Flying Dutchman is simply two patties with slices of American cheese between them, no bun included (per In-N-Out). You can add grilled onions, peppers, or pickles, but you'll want to eat this messy delight with a fork and knife.

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Meanwhile, the Veggie Burger is a regular sandwich with toppings but no patty or cheese. The Chopped Chilies are tangy banana peppers. There's also Animal Style Fries, of course, with grilled onions, In-N-Out sauce called "spread," and melted cheese. Ask for Cheese Fries, and they'll hold the onions and spread. Ordering a vanilla shake with root beer will get you a float. You can also order mixed shakes, like the Black and White, Chocolate Strawberry, Strawberry Vanilla, and even Neapolitan Shakes (via Reno Gazette Journal).

As noted by Courier, the secret menu may seem needlessly hidden at first, but that's actually a big part of the appeal of In-N-Out. This illusion of exclusivity makes customers feel like they're part of something special. If someone hears about a special item through word of mouth, their curiosity is often sparked, and when that order works, the customer feels validated and included. Apparently, In-N-Out never intended to have this occur, but when the secret menu organically formed, the company found it liked it. It's easy to see where a lot of the names came from (what else could a "double meat" be?), but where did "Flying Dutchman" first originate?

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Mythical Origins

Ghost ship sailing under moonlight © muratart/Shutterstock Ghost ship sailing under moonlight

"The Flying Dutchman" on In-N-Out's secret menu seems to be a reference to a legendary ship. Per Encyclopedia Britannica, in European folklore, the Flying Dutchman is a ghost ship that endlessly sails the seas and foretells certain doom wherever it goes. There have been several depictions of the haunted vessel over the years. NPR explains one famous origin story where the captain tried to sail around the Cape of Good Hope while a storm raged on, and he swore to make it through even if he had to keep on trying until Judgment Day. Unfortunately for him, the Devil overheard his vow and supernaturally kept the captain to his promise, making him sail the ocean forevermore.

What does this have to do with two beef patties with two slices of American cheese stuck between them? We're not sure. Perhaps the brown exterior is supposed to resemble a wooden ship and the yellow cheese its sails? In-N-Out mentions that Guy Snyder, former Chief Executive Officer, created the Flying Dutchman, but the site does not give his rationale for the moniker. Indeed, it can't be because the item is a harbinger of certain doom! Maybe like the exclusivity of In-N-Out's secret menu, the mystery of the Flying Dutchman is just a mysterious part of its appeal.

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