The Mystery of How a West Coast-Made In-N-Out Burger Ended Up on a New York Street Is Solved
"It genuinely shook me to my core," 31-year-old Lincoln Boehm said of the discovery
After a grueling four-day investigation, the man, who found a lone, yet pristine In-N-Out Double-Double in Queens, is revealing how the burger ended up on the street.
“I never thought I’d have a concrete answer,” 31-year-old Lincoln Boehm wrote in an essay published in Vice. “I assumed this was just a mystery that would consume a part of my brain until the day I die, much like how the JFK assassination consumed my parents’ generation.”
As he was beginning to give up, Boehm received an Instagram DM at 9:56 p.m. on Tuesday, from a 16-year-old girl claiming the burger as her own.
“Hi, this is actually my burger. You may not believe me. However, I came from a flight that arrived at 5 a.m. from San Diego,” the message read.
“Naturally, I was suspicious. Over the past four days, I’ve received a lot of messages from people claiming to be the culprit, but after soft interrogation, their claims completely fell apart. But this one was different. This explanation stayed as intact and solid as the very burger I discovered on the streets of Queens,” Boehm explained.
“Helen was sincere, and from the jump I knew this person may hold the answers I’ve spent the last four days searching for,” he wrote.
Helen, a high schooler, who attends Veritas Academy in Flushing, explained to Boehm that she ordered a few burgers at an In-N-Out in Encinitas, California just before her flight back to New York on July 19.
“I thought the story began on July 20, when I found that fateful burger smiling at me on the sidewalk, but it actually began more than two weeks earlier, on July 2, when Helen boarded a JetBlue flight bound for San Diego to visit family friends. On July 19, she was due to fly back home on JetBlue Flight 90, a red-eye departed at 8:56 p.m. PDT with a scheduled arrival to JFK at 5:27 a.m.”
To back her story, Helen sent Boehm screengrabs of her flight reservation, her receipt from In-N-Out and an Instagram Stories post, which shows her in the drive-thru line of the eatery.
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“At the counter, she made it clear to the In-N-Out employee taking her order that she was about to board a flight, and asked for suggestions to preserve the burgers as much as possible. She ordered two Double-Doubles with NO SAUCE, which explains how the bun stayed so pristine,” Boehm wrote.
While on the plane, Helen ate one of the burgers and kept the remaining contained in the bag for the entire flight,” Boehm explained.
After she landed at JFK, Helen took the AirTrain to the Jamaica station to then catch the Q44 bus home.
That’s when tragedy struck.
“She started running down the street to try and catch the bus with now slightly greasy bag of three In-N-Out burgers in her hand. The good news: She caught the bus. The Bad news: The bag burst open at the bottom while she made this fateful sprint,” Boehm wrote.
Luckily, Helen was able to catch two of the three burgers before they fell to the ground.
“Once she sat down on the bus and caught her breath, she noticed that the Double-Double was missing — and she even has messages to prove it.”
“One of my in and out burgers fell in the streets of Jamaica,” Helen told a friend, who responded, “I know people saw the in and out burger and were like wtf is going on here.”
Boehm told the New York Post that he had been heading to McDonald’s for breakfast when he saw the out-of-state burger around 6:30 a.m. on Saturday. The Brooklyn-based creative director was waiting for an early morning train at the Jamaica Long Island Railroad station with his wife, who serves as his witness. “We didn’t touch it,” he said. “We stopped for a second and took photos and looked around to see if anyone else was noticing it and then we walked on.”
Originally from Santa Monica, Boehm told the outlet that a burger from In-N-Out would be “my death row last meal,” so seeing one so far from its home “genuinely shook me to my core.”
Boehm is so dedicated to In-N-Out, in fact, he says he’s probably eaten more than 1,000 of their burgers in his lifetime and has tried many times to transport them from California to New York, to no avail. “Every time I’ve done it it becomes inedible,” he said. “The bun gets soggy and it becomes a mess. This one was just in such perfect condition… It just felt strange.”
Boehm said he originally assumed that the mystery burger was a part of a publicity stunt, but a representative from In-N-Out has since debunked that theory, telling Vice, “We were surprised to hear recently that one of our Double-Doubles was found on a street in New York. Because our burgers are only cooked fresh to order in six states, it must have taken considerable planning for that burger to make the trip from the grill all the way to the Empire State. So while it is a mystery as to how one of our burgers ended up in Queens, we’re sure someone is having a good laugh.”