Hot 'n Now was here before In-N-Out

Are you sure the Medford In-N-Out Burger is the first in Oregon? I remember one in Klamath Falls on Shasta Way near the Fred Meyer parking lot. I was a student at OIT at the time, and my roommate worked there. This was back around 1992-95.

— Paraphrased from comment on mailtribune.com

We're not fond of telling people they're wrong, but your memory isn't serving you correctly. We'll give you a pass, however, because some of that confusion can be attributed to a similar three-word, three-syllable name.

The burger chain you're remembering wasn't In-N-Out Burger, the privately held Irvine, Calif.-based chain of hamburger stands with a rabid fan base.  Rather, the business you remember being at 1613 Washburn Way in Klamath Falls near the Fred Meyer parking lot was Hot 'n Now Hamburgers.

The Hot 'n Now chain's roots were in Michigan, and it was most prevalent after PepsiCo purchased the chain in 1990, placing it under Taco Bell's operations in the corporate umbrella. At the time, PepsiCo owned KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell chains.

The Hot 'n Now chain focused on value and speed, with a yellow lightning bolt logo with a purple background.  It's menu staples boasted low prices, including burgers, fries and soft drinks for 39 cents, and its focus was on drive-thru service.

By April 1995, the operating losses were too high for Pepsi, and it sold its stake in the company to franchisees and licensees, according to an archived Los Angeles Times article.

In Medford, a Hot 'n Now opened in November 1992 at 600 Biddle Road near Stevens Street.  Besides Medford and Klamath Falls, franchise operator DJS Enterprises had locations in Vancouver, Wash., Hillsboro, and five in Portland. Each of the franchises closed abruptly in June 1996.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. To see a collection of columns, go to mailtribune.com/youasked. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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