Culture

An In-N-Out Burger Was Discovered On The Streets Of NYC And Now We Know Why

Every now and again, a groundbreaker of a story comes rolling in. Like last weekend, when a mysterious In-N-Out burger was found abandoned on a street in Queens, 1,500 miles from its home-state or any of its outlets.

Picture this – another average Saturday morning in New York City. You’re heading for a coffee at McDonald’s on Sutphin Boulevard. 

You pass a bus stop and the glance down to see a… familiar shape?

Credit: @nypost / Twitter

A pristine In-N-Out Double-Double cheeseburger burger sits quietly in the middle of the road. And it’s perfect. Perfectly untouched, wrapped and lying face-up in Jamaica, Queens, at the wee hour of 6:30 a.m. Such was the strange sight, Lincoln Boehm, 31, recalls. 

“It genuinely shook me to my core,” he said. 

The popular fast food outlet In-N-Out is famously a West Coast chain. 

Credit: TheTakeout.com

In-N-Out has spread to 346 locations since they opened their first outlet in Baldwin Park, California in 1948. However, it’s common knowledge that you can’t find an outlet further east than Texas. So, how a Double-Double had somehow fallen out of the sky into Queens, New York was anyone’s guess.  

A devout In-And-Out fan himself, it struck a deep personal chord with Boehm. 

“This was a startling and somewhat horrifying discovery,” he wrote. “Was this evidence that we really are living in a simulation?” 

But more than anything, he was baffled how fresh the burger still looked; “as if it had come off the grill five minutes ago”. That, despite the closest store being some 1,500 miles away. 

He understood the gravity of this. Since his move to New York nine years ago, Boehm had attempted to bring burgers back from Los Angeles, with no success. “Every time I’ve done it it becomes inedible,” he mused. “The bun gets soggy and it becomes a mess. This one was just in such perfect condition… It just felt strange… ‘

They didn’t touch the mystery burger, but snapped some photos and looked around, wondering if it was some sort of marketing stunt. 

Boehm later posted a photo of the burger to Instagram. 

The sight of the lonely, picture-perfect burger soon caught the American imagination.

Credit: lincolnboehm / Instagram

It was dubbed the internet’s ‘new favourite mystery’, with hundreds of people confused and demanding answers. 

Naturally, Twitter broke out into a million conspiracies. 

Some leapt to the conclusion he’d stumbled across some sort of masterpiece.

I mean it’s New York. People make art out of everything so it’s not much of a stretch for people to have thought that maybe, just maybe, this was some sort of avant-garde art installation.

Others suspected the cheeseburger was some sort of party favor of the rich and famous. 

Credit: @leighmunsil / Twitter

Again…it’s New York. There’s rich and famous people on literally every corner so it kinda makes sense that maybe, just maybe, In-N-Out would do a pop up for som big celebrity event.

And others had much more convincing theories. 

Credit: @_TheOnlyJuan / Twitter

Now this…if only.

Even the In-N-Out Vice President of Operations, Denny Warnick, had this to say to 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.”

But despite the frenzied speculation, the world was no closer to an answer. Boehm, least of all. 

In his words, “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.”

But to give up, friends, is to underestimate the power of the internet. After two full days of media madness and social media buzz, Boehm has since provided an update. 

We have satisfying news – the mystery of the burger has since been solved.

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Credit: Giphy

Yup, we can all of us breathe easy again. Let the Earth spin on.

Two days later, at 9:56 p.m. Boehm received a DM from a girl claiming to be the burger’s former owner:

Credit: Vice

He was sceptical at first – she hadn’t been the first to claim the burger as hers. However, upon further questioning, her story started to come together. She backed it all up with a digital papertrail of Instastories, receipts, screenshots from her JetBlue flight, and more. 

The culprit introduced herself as Helen Vivas, a 16-year-old high schooler from Flushing, Queens. 

Turns out she was catching a flight back home to JFK that morning and had made a pit-stop at an In-N-Out Burger in Encinitas to pick up some snacks. 

She had stopped by the Encinitas outlet just before her flight. 

Credit: Vice


She’d eaten one burger on the plane and held the other three poised on her lap in a paper bag. Once she’d landed and made it to in Jamaica, she had suddenly caught sight of her bus and broke into a run.

It was then that her beautiful, slightly greasy paper bag broke and unleashed the Double-Double into Queens. She managed to catch two burgers before they hit the ground rolling, but hadn’t been quick enough on the DD. And that was that –  mystery solved. 

But hang on… how’d the burger end up so freakishly perfect? 

Turns out, it was all about prep. At the In-N-Out counter, she’d told the staff that she wanted to bring her burgers on the plane. Her Double-Doubles were ordered with no sauce and her cheeseburgers had been “packed fresh” with veggies separate. Ahaaa!  

Ready for a wholesome turn? 

Surprised by how his whole story went viral, Boehm had decided to milk some good out of the whole incident. 

He’s since started up a Shopify store that sells t-shirts about the incident with all proceeds going to the New York City Foodbank to help feed the homeless.

Credit: Ja-m-aica-queens

The caption for it reads: 

“…How it got there I honestly don’t know, but for whatever reason it has captured the imagination of America, so I’m trying to use this publicity for good by selling these commemorative t-shirts with ALL proceeds going to the New York City Food Bank that helps feed the hungry in this city I call home.” 

READ: We Asked, And These Are The 14 Weirdest Junk Food Meals You Eat

New Yorkers Plan A Rally To Support The Woman Arrested For Selling Churros On The NYC Subway

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New Yorkers Plan A Rally To Support The Woman Arrested For Selling Churros On The NYC Subway

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A woman selling churros on the subway, a sight as common as breakdancers, panhandlers, and school children selling candy in New York City’s central public transportation system, was arrested. The incident spurred further public outcry amidst allegations of over-policing on the trains. 

For years, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) which oversees public transportation in New York, has come under fire as New York City’s subway system has increasingly begun to decay with more trains out of service, delays, mechanical failures, and trains that run slower than they did in the 1950s due to mismanagement and poor maintenance.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s solution was to hire 500 more subway police officers to combat fare evasion. Following the crackdown, widespread protests have occurred in response to at least two incidents where many felt officers used excessive force to thwart subway evasion and other petty crimes.

Police captured on video bringing churro vendor to tears.

In New York City it is not uncommon to see people selling helpful items or snacks on subway platforms, which is why the treatment of one churro vendor has sparked outcry on social media. Sofia Newman filmed and shared the video on Twitter. In it, the woman is crying as officers handcuff her and take away her churro cart.

Newman doesn’t remain a bystander, she shouts at the cops for harassing the woman. 

“It’s illegal to sell food inside the subway stations,” the officer told her. 

According to Newman, the woman kept trying to speak to one of the officer’s in Spanish, but a plainclothes officer kept interrupting. 

“She kept trying to speak to one of the cops in Spanish, but the plainclothes cop kept rolling his eyes and saying things like, ‘Are you done?’ and ‘I know you can speak English’ Eventually, they cuffed her and unceremoniously dragged her and her cart away,” Newman said

The police officers eventually take the handcuffs off of the woman and let her go, only issuing her a summons.

“No matter what the law says, there is no reason why that many officers needed to encircle, demean, and police the poverty of that woman of color,” Newman wrote on Twitter.

According to the NYPD, the woman has been issued 10 summonses for unlicensed vending, however many felt her treatment was excessive for a nonviolent crime. 

New York Comptroller and advocates criticize over-policing.

“Another incident that raises serious questions about the increased police presence in our subways,” New York City Comptroller, Scott M. Stringer tweeted. “This kind of enforcement doesn’t make anyone safer.”

Governor Cuomo seems to have little support for increase in police form as the New York Times notes. Police Commissioner James O’Neil (who resigned a week ago) said overall crime is down and the subway is safe, despite Cuomo’s assertions otherwise. 

AOC has also voiced her opinions on community justice and the subway system.

Transit advocates say the cost is too high and as the MTA’s financial crisis looms, service cuts and major layoffs are being considered. The 20 percent increase in officers would cost taxpayers $663 million over a decade. Some wonder if that money would be better spent bailing out the MTA and repairing the poorly functioning subway.

According to the New York Times, “Transit groups have urged Mr. Cuomo to cancel the plans for new officers, who would work for the transit agency rather than the city’s police department, as the current force does. The governor, they say, should instead focus resources on modernizing the subway, which still relies on signal equipment that was introduced before World War II.”

Protests spawn following allegations of subway police using excessive force.

Others felt that adding more police to the subway would lead to more policing of people of color and criminalizing of the poor who must pay $6.50 to commute to work every day in a city with a $15 minimum wage and where the average one-bedroom apartment cost $2964 to rent per month.

Those fears appeared to be a self-fulfilling prophecy when a video of a cop tackling a 19-year-old unarmed teen, Adrian Napier, for evading a $2.75 surfaced. A few days later another officer was caught punching two teenagers in the face, one of which is suing

“There is no excuse for the excessive use of force and hyperaggressive policing we saw in these two incidents,” Jumaane Williams, the city’s public advocate, said at a news conference at City Hall.

To protest the subway police, 1,000 demonstrators marched through the subway and “hopped” the turnstiles, evading the fares together in solidarity. 

“We needed to react quickly because what we’re seeing is this additional 500 cops that Cuomo has authorized are waging a war on poor people of color,” Amin Husain, an organizer with Decolonize This Place, told Gothamist

“If the city isn’t going to listen to the people, then the people are going to assert their legitimacy. I don’t think anyone disagrees: there should be less cops and better service for the MTA.”

A New York City Landlord Is Facing A $17K Fine After Threatening To Call ICE On Tenant

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A New York City Landlord Is Facing A $17K Fine After Threatening To Call ICE On Tenant

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We’ve all heard stories of shady landlords doing crazy things to their tenants. Whether it’s raising rent without notice or using discriminatory practices to try to kick out a resident. But one landlord in New York City took it up a notch when she threatened to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on her tenant if she didn’t pay overdue rent. An administrative judge in New York City ruled this month that the landlord should pay a $5,000 fine and $12,000 in damages for threatening to call ICE. 

The tenant, Holly Ondaan, is from Guyana with European Union citizenship and was undocumented when her former landlord, Dianna Lysius, threatened to call immigration officials on her. Now, Lysius is facing legal trouble and a hefty fine after a New York City judge called her actions a “human rights violation.” 

According to the New York City Commission on Human Rights, the judges decision is thought to be the first housing case in the country in which an individual was fined for threatening to call immigration authorities.

The situation began back in October 2017 when Ondaan, who lived on the Queens property since 2011, admittedly stopped paying rent due to financial difficulties in her life at the time. Shortly after, she began to receive texts from Lysius about the missing money that would lead to her falling behind in mortgage payments and eventually having to sell the property in foreclosure. In his ruling, Judge John B. Spooner said that Lysius’s “dire financial circumstances likely played a significant part in motivating her hostile messages.”

That’s when things started getting hostile. In January 2018, Lysius began eviction proceedings against Ondaan and would write in a text message that she would call ICE if she didn’t pay rent that same day. According to the judges report, some of the texts included:

“It was fun and games when you calling DOB now it’s fun and games calling immigration 12 times day. They can deport you.”

After a three months of discriminatory texts, New York’s Commission on Human Rights sent Lysius a cease-and-desist letter requesting that she stop harassing her tenant. The commission said that Lysius’s actions were discriminatory and unlawful. 

Lysius to this point has denied all the accusations of harassment towards her former tenant. While she has been fined, there are still more legal steps that must happen before it goes into effect.

The case is a first when it comes to a landlord using immigration services to threaten a tenant. The commission also saw it as a case setting precedent  and classified Lysius’s actions as discrimination under New York City’s human-rights law. 

“It sets important case precedent for the interpretation of our Human Rights Law to include the weaponization of ICE to intimidate or harass someone in housing as a violation,” Sapna V. Raj, deputy commissioner for the law enforcement bureau of the city’s Commission on Human Rights, told CNN. “We will not allow our city’s most vulnerable to be further marginalized out of fear for their safety in their own homes. Immigration status, citizenship, and national origin (perceived or actual) are protected categories under our law, and we will continue to fight to ensure those protections are enforced to the fullest extent.”

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Lysius said she never send the texts and emails to her former tenant and as of now, she plans to appeal the judge’s ruling. “Everything in that report is false,” Lysius said.

Ondaan has admitted that she wasn’t authorized to be in the U.S. at the time when Lysius threats began. She would obtain her green card in July 2018, according to the judges ruling. She would moved out of the property in October 2018, owing $14,400 in back rent. A court ruled that Ondaan would have to pay $6,895 of the past rent. 

Spooner’s decision won’t take effect before both parties have time to submit comments and the city human rights commission issues a final decision, according to CNN. Lysius can then file her appeal.

READ: ICE Has Made It Clear That The Cruelty In Its Policies Is The Point, Meanwhile An 8th Person Has Died In Their Custody