A Mysterious In-N-Out Burger In Queens Has Us On Conspiracy Watch


Over the weekend, news of someone finding a pristine In-N-Out Double-Double on the streets of Jamaica Queens took the internet by storm. The burger was discovered and photographed in a now-viral Instagram post on July 20th, by Lincoln Boehm. Considering the nearest In-N-Out is over 1,725 miles away — in Rockwall, Texas — this burger was newsworthy. How did it get to NYC? More importantly, how did it manage to stay in near-perfect condition? Is there a secret In-N-Out in New York and people don’t have to settle for Shake Shack after all?

By the evening of July 23rd, the burger’s owner had come forward in Lincoln’s Instagram DMs. “Hi. This is actually my burger. You may not believe me,” wrote 16-year-old high school student Helen Vivas.

After a pretty comprehensive vetting process that Boehm walked readers through in painstaking detail over on Vice, he concluded that this burger did in fact once belong to Helen Vivas.

The details are a little tedious, so we’ll just go into a quick summary of the events. Vivas was flying back to NYC from San Diego on the evening of July 19th. Before boarding her plane, she stopped at an In-N-Out Burger to order some food for her flight. According to Lincoln’s post on Vice detailing the events:

“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, as well as two single cheeseburgers “packed fresh” (which means they pack all the vegetables in separate baggies to be constructed later) for her to eat in the coming days, along with a small pink lemonade, which she initially forgot to mention.”

Vivas then boarded her flight, ate one of the Double-Doubles, and held the bag containing the other three burgers on her lap for the duration of the flight. Once she landed, she boarded the JFK-Jamaica AirTrain, got off on Jamaica and made her way towards the Q44 bus that would take her back home to Flushing.

When she saw the bus a block away, idling at a stop, she made a run for it. Unfortunately, the bag, now greasy from an 8-hour flight, tore open. According to Vivas, she was able to catch two of the three burgers but abandoned the Double-Double, which landed on the ground. Only for it to be discovered an hour later by Lincoln Boehm.

As we mentioned before, the details of Lincoln and Helen’s story are exhaustive and a little exhausting, they talk about everything from what she watched in flight (Always Sunny, solid choice), to Helen’s past as a badminton player, and her future aspirations, and they have all the receipts to prove it, from literal bank receipts to flight numbers, tickets, and archived Instagram stories of Helen’s journey before her flight.

The whole thing is so meticulously explained that it just doesn’t sit quite right. Like a Double-Double after an 8-hour flight.

Prepare your tinfoil hats but… are we really supposed to take this story at face value? Lincoln seems to have thought of everything — every question you could ask about this being real and verifiable is answered in Lincoln’s Vice article. (Except for the question of why a 30-something man is asking a teenage girl for bank receipts to verify her fast-food habits.) It’s filled with so many minute details that it feels incredibly authentic. Helen Vivas attends Veritas Academy in Flushing (Veritas = truth, ya dig?), Queens. She’s a former badminton player that left the sport in order to focus on her studies, and she hopes to major in history in college.

Lincoln Boehm meanwhile is an Associate Creative Director at Johannes Leonardo advertising agency. He’s been recognized by Business Insider as one of the 30 most creative people in advertising under 30 — twice, in 2012 and 2014. Creative enough to fake a viral burger post to prove a point about information flow and fake news in 2019?

Yes, that’s our bet. We envision an ambitious creative in advertising bragging over lunch with friends that he could make a story go insanely viral without it costing a dime. We’ll bet an In-N-Out burger and fries that this whole escapade is on Boehm’s LinkedIn one day in the not too distant future. Because the statistical probability alone of Mr. Boehm being the one to find the burger, a person who happens to work in advertising is roughly the same as In-N-Out’s stiff, white bags getting totally grease-soaked by wrapped, un-sauced burgers.

The concept of Occam’s razor says that the running bus-burger drop isn’t the right answer. There’s something far easier: a fake.

In response to an article on TooFab that also called into question the too-perfect sequence of events, Boehm reiterates that this is not the case, “Just wanted to let you know I had nothing to do with ANY stunts… All I did was find a burger on the ground while walking to get a coffee early in the morning… Yes, I do work in advertising but that is just a coincidence. I understand why you’d think that was suspicious but I assure you on my life I had nothing to do with planting it there or staging any sort of publicity stunt.”

So what do you believe? I mean, dude swore on his life. Pretty heavy, and we’re not going to call Lincoln Boehm a liar, he seems like a stand-up, excruciatingly detail-oriented guy. But there’s also the curious case of the condition of the burger. For one, in Lincoln’s picture, it appears the burger has all the fixings, though given the quality of the photo you can make the argument that the sauce may in fact not be present.

However, why would Helen order two single burgers packed fresh, and two Double-Doubles with no sauce, if she had planned on taking the Double-Double to New York? Shouldn’t she have gotten the Double-Double “packed fresh” as well? As the bag broke apart and Helen caught the contents, how was she able to grab two-single cheeseburgers and the “packed fresh” veggies, but was unable to catch a Double-Double? Is that a little known badminton skill? There also doesn’t seem to be any other trash on the floor surrounding the burger, no napkins, salt and pepper packets, no greasy bag — nothing.

The burger in question was found on Sutphin Boulevard in Jamaica, Queens. A street busy enough to have several bus stops. Lincoln found the burger in pristine condition an hour after Helen dropped it, right-side up, on a busy New York City street and it still looks delicious. I don’t know dude, In-N-Out burgers don’t even look this nice when I order them to-go and drive the 15-minutes between my house and the closest In-N-Out, and I always order my burger with no sauce.

Dubious as Lincoln Boehm’s claims (and eagerness to write a Vice article about them) are, we still don’t know how the burger got to Jamaica, Queens in such pristine condition. Lincoln and Helen’s stories might just be true. But if it comes out that we were all duped, like when that douche got people to do Yelp reviews of his shed, look for us to scream “TOLDJA!!!” from the rooftops.

Either way, whatever the real answer behind all of this is (portals! glitch in the simulation! ad-bro!) one thing is for certain, I’m getting In-N-Out for lunch.