In-N-Out Burger Cup Says "Hail Satan"

In-N-Out Burger paper cup with Hail Satan slogan
Viral image

There are parts of the United States where no one has ever heard of In-N-Out Burger, a west coast fast food chain known for the quality of its food and cleanliness of its restaurants (a fact), and rumored to be owned and operated by Christian fanatics (an exaggeration).

For the benefit of the uninitiated, the rumor exists, in large part, because one of the many quirky features of In-N-Out Burger is its policy of printing biblical citations on its packaging — "John 3:16" on the bottoms of soda cups, for example, "Proverbs 3:5" on milkshake cups and "Revelation 3:20" on burger wrappers.

People find it odd and fascinating, especially the first time they encounter it, which is why there are hundreds of photos of these citations on the Internet.

It's also why there's at least one photo of an In-N-Out cup that says "Hail Satan" (see above).

The devilish image has been making the Internet rounds for upwards of five years, and probably had its biggest spike in circulation when it turned up in a July 27, 2011 tweet by Weird Al Yankovic. Yankovic didn't create the image, mind you. According to there are postings of it dating back to 2010, and it may even be older than that.

It's a hoax, of course. In the original photograph (on Flickr), the cup bore the inscription "John 3:16."

The "Hail Satan" version is obviously a sarcastic spoof of the actual Bible references on In-N-Out packaging, but that begs a question: Why are those references  there in the first place? Is it really because the owners of In-N-Out are religious zealots trying to convert the whole world to Christianity, burger by burger?

Not exactly.

The company has never issued an official explanation, but Dean Atkins, a regional manager for the food chain, was asked about the Bible references by the Gilroy Dispatch in 2006. Atkins said the practice started during the 1980s on the orders of Rich Snyder, one of the sons of In-N-Out founder Harry Snyder and by all accounts an evangelical Christian.

"It was just something he wanted to do," Atkins told the Dispatch (in other words, a whim). There's little evidence that other family members in the business shared his passion for evangelizing, but the practice was kept going after Rich Snyder died in a plane crash in 1993 "out of respect for him," said Atkins.

In any case, citing the Bible on its packaging doesn't seem to have hurt the company's success — in fact, who knows, maybe it helped by adding a soupçon of mystique. Other companies are starting to do it, too.

By the same token, the circulation of an image of an In-N-Out cup bearing a satanic slogan doesn't seem to have hurt business, either. Food for thought.

Bible References

John 3:16. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Proverbs 3:5. "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding."

Revelation 3:20. "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."

Sources and Further Reading