It’s pretty hard to mess up hot cocoa. Even the bad hot cocoas are fairly all right. When I first heard that In-N-Out added hot chocolate to their menu, I was surprised. Why would a place that specializes in burgers and fries sell a hot winter-y drink? Plus, I have been waiting for an In-N-Out veggie burger forever and had my fingers crossed that that might be the next drop from the West Coast cult-favorite burger joint.
According to the company president (and the In-N-Out founder’s granddaughter), Lynsi Snyder, hot chocolate at In-N-Out is nothing new — apparently, her grandparents served it as a menu item in the ‘50s. However, the drink is not made with some sort of family secret or even a special mixture; it’s actually Ghirardelli hot cocoa mix. As someone who was raised on trips to the Bay Area to visit my own grandparents for sundaes at Ghirardelli Square (aka San Francisco’s best chocolate factory), I am definitely already a fan of their velvety cocoa mix and in no need of conversion.
Sadly, they must make their cocoa differently on-site than they do at In-N-Out. I waited in line for 20 minutes on a Thursday morning — at 10:30 a.m., no less — for my server to hand me a watery, lukewarm concoction that promptly spilled all over my car! (Okay, that last part may have been my fault.) But when I pulled over (to wipe off the seat), I took a sip and was like oh, it’s… fine. The marshmallows floating atop the drink were puny and flavorless but innocuous. The chocolate flavor was like a watered-down version of what I love ordering at a Ghirardelli — or roughly the same as what anyone could make with a mix at home. It was tasty because it was hot chocolate, but it was far from being anything special. I wasn’t unhappy, but I would have preferred a hot chocolate from Starbucks.
My main question is: Who is going to be ordering this beverage? In-N-Out already has frosty milkshakes that pair perfectly with their fries. No one really ever wants a cheeseburger and a hot chocolate. I can’t picture myself ordering animal fries and asking, “Can I add a hot chocolate to that?” There is no breakfast menu — In-N-Out doesn’t even open until 10:30 a.m.
I wasn’t offended by this drink, it just felt wholly unnecessary. Plus it would taste a lot better with some real marshmallows. I wouldn’t avoid In-N-Out’s hot chocolate, but you’re better off making your own hot chocolate from scratch.