IN-N-OUT Lap Mat, 1988

This paper lap map features a nostalgic scene of the #1 IN-N-OUT Burger place with vintage cars shown in the drive thru. The mat reads “California’s First Drive-Thru Celebrates 40 Years!” The right side of the mat features a special 40th anniversary logo composed of the silhouette of a store atop a curved arrow and their signature logo. IN-N-OUT Burger has used vintage images of their stores on a variety of products and consistently references its humble beginnings and growth on its menus and lap mats.
While fast-food restaurants have been around since the 1920s, drive-thru dining came of age in car-crazy California in the 1950s. IN-N-OUT Burger was an early part of this trend, opening in 1948 at the intersection of Francisquito and Garvey in Baldwin Park, California. In the beginning, founders Harry Snyder and his wife Esther did all of the shopping, preparation, and accounting themselves. They also adopted a two-way speaker system, enabling customers to place their order without leaving their cars.
Eating in the car quickly caught on in the United States and IN-N-OUT’s decision in 1961 to offer customers paper “lap mats” to protect their clothing reflects the popularity of the practice. Harry Snyder began hand cutting the brown paper used by bakeries for packaging buns into rectangular mats. He soon switched to pink butcher paper thinking it would make dashboard dining a more enjoyable experience. When a printing company contacted Snyder in 1971 about replacing the butcher paper with printed lap mats, Snyder saw an opportunity to provide consumers with more information. Early versions of the lap mats featured maps of the local area and information on other IN-N-Out Burger locations. By the 25th anniversary in 1973, IN-N-Out Burger had 13 restaurants in Los Angeles County, all featuring a two-lane drive-thru and a limited amount of outdoor seating. In 1979, IN-N-Out opened its first single lane drive-thru facility with a large open dining room, a design that became the model for future expansion. In 2012, IN-N-OUT Burger had 281 locations in California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, and Utah and remains a popular destination for both locals and tourists who want to eat on the go.
Currently not on view
date made
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 11 in x 15 1/2 in; 27.94 cm x 39.37 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of In-N-Out Burger
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Work and Industry: Food Technology
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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