The Mysterious Case of the In-N-Out Burger Has Been Solved

How a pristine, perfectly intact Double-Double had found its way to a forlorn block of Jamaica, Queens, promised to be an enigma for the ages, until a 16-year-old high school student DM’ed with the details.

If only Sherlock Holmes had had access to social media, solving all those mysteries might have been a little bit easier. That’s one takeaway from the saga of the pristine, fully intact In-N-Out burger a 31-year-old New York City writer and creative director named Lincoln Boehm and his wife found on a seemingly random and fairly desolate block in Queens, near the Jamaica Long Island Railroad station.

Boehm, a Santa Monica native who estimates he has had “over 1,000” In-N-Out burgers in his lifetime, has never successfully transported one across the country and spotted this one while heading to catch a train, knew a Double-Double when he saw it, he told the New York Post. He added that seeing the burger from the beloved West Coast chain completely out of context (there are no In-N-Out locations east of Kansas City), “sitting comedically, like perfectly up on the street, completely untouched,” shocked him and “genuinely shook” him to his “core.”

He and his wife took photos of the burger, but did not touch it – and then hatched a few possible theories about how it came to be where it was. Was it a viral marketing stunt? The act of a wealthy, jet-setting In-N-Out fan with too much time and too many burgers on his hands?

“I’ve got a direct message inbox filled with [theories],” Boehm told the Post. “But I would really, really love to know the truth… I want to know how this happened.”

Eventually, amidst all those theories, what is very likely a real explanation came Boehm’s way. Social media to the rescue.

Boehm recounted his experience (which caught the attention of at least one member of Congress) – and how the solution to the conundrum reached him -- in a Vice/Munchies post.

We now live in a world in which “the answers to life’s mysteries are just one DM away,” he mused, noting that after two days of virality, he received a message via Instagram from a 16-year-old high-school student from Flushing, Queens, who detailed how the West Coast burger ended up on an East Coast street and provided proof (texts, receipts, flight reservations) that what she was saying was true.

The young woman had just flown in from San Diego, where she had traveled to visit family friends. Before boarding her flight to JFK Airport, in New York, she picked up some In-N-Out burgers and a small pink lemonade to enjoy on the flight, asking the employee to pack them for travel. (No sauce on the two Double-Doubles she ordered; single cheeseburgers “packed fresh,” meaning keeping the veggies bagged and separate from the burgers.)

She ate one Double-Double on the plane and arrived on a red-eye early Saturday morning clutching the remaining Double-Double and two cheeseburgers, which she had held on her lap neatly folded into a bag throughout the flight. After taking the JFK-Jamaica AirTrain, she had to run to catch her connecting bus – and the In-N-Out burger bag gave way, allowing her remaining Double-Double to escape onto the street below, where it sat waiting to be spotted about an hour later by Boehm and his wife.

“One of my in and out burgers fell in the streets of Jamaica,” she texted a friend.

“Lmfaaoaooaoaoa I know people saw the in and out burger and were like wtf is this going here,” the friend texted back, presciently and punctuated with three teary-laughing-face emoji.

In a sweet, New York City-is-just-a-small-town coda, Boehm reports (and you really owe it to yourself to read his whole rendition of it all) that he and his wife have invited the teen and her family over for a barbecue. “We’ll probably have hot dogs and chicken,” he said.

Well played, Mr. Boehm, well played.

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