Chocolatey disappointment is on the menu

It’s the hallmark of the West Coast. The iconic yellow arrow wrapping around red letters, lines of people snaking around the white plastic tables, greasy and salty goodness scenting the air and a menu that hasn’t changed in 15 years– until now.

In-N-Out has been a part of the Southern California diet since before most can remember, and now, drumroll please, they sparked conversation with the addition of something new to their menu: hot cocoa.

Even in the midst of a California winter, the sweet, soul-encompassing warmth of hot chocolate is a necessity. Usually, the only place you can get it is overpriced and hectic coffee shops, weak Keurig hot cocoa pods or fake powder packets that look like dirt. Any of them sound appetizing?

Not to fear, our favorite burger chain is here. While this fast food chain is mostly known for their animal fries and milkshakes, I had high expectations for the hot cocoa after hearing raving reviews about it and learning that they even use Ghirardelli hot chocolate.

But this could be about more than just a drink, as revolutionary as the drink may be. This could be the metaphor of all food metaphors. This could show the world that you can’t judge a book, or a burger place, by its cover, or that you don’t need to a lot of money to have something delectable, or that even a fast food restaurant can make something of true quality.

It could also be just a really good hot cocoa. Emphasis on could. But it seems I had false hope.

Served in their famous white cup, this time with brown palm trees, the hot chocolate only costs $1.60 without tax for an eight ounce cup. It is served with or without marshmallows, and you can even ask them for a mocha, half coffee half hot chocolate.

One sip and I am immediately disappointed. This little cup of frothy brown did not live up to its “amazing” reputation. While the addition of marshmallows was a cute idea, it made the drink way too sugary, and the hot chocolate itself tasted like it was from a Swiss Miss packet. The mocha was definitely tastier, although it was served scalding hot.

My beloved In-N-Out has almost never let me down, and sitting in my plastic, red swivel chair contemplating the let-down of the new year, I realized I should give the poor drink a break. It was hot, it was chocolatey, it even came with mini marshmallows: it fit all the criteria for good hot chocolate. Unfortunately, I could probably make a better cup myself, but it was a decent cup of hot cocoa that warmed the soul and sweetened the tongue, and I discovered that there were even chocolate chips at the bottom of the cup.

While this beverage will not be the next symbol of the year, it is a nice addition to the menu that hasn’t changed for over a decade. This cocoa, and the mocha “hack” that comes with it, are fun options that are a good addition to the menu for people who want something warm and sweet, but I’ll just stick to my burger and fries, animal style, with a chocolate shake. I’m disappointed In-N-Out; I was really rooting for you to become the icon of 2018.

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