— -- Nearly every week, Heather Daniels, 18, can count on one thing: a text from her 75-year-old grandmother with a photo of her grandfather, also 75, eating an “Animal Style” hamburger at In-N-Out Burger.
“It brightens my day,” Daniels, of Orange, California, told ABC News. “Then I’ll send a photo back of me in class and say something like, ‘I’m in my government class right now. Be jealous.’”
The family joke started a few years ago as a way for Daniels’ grandparents, Patricia and Fred Burry, to keep in touch with their son, Daniels' uncle, who moved from California to Seattle.
Patricia Burry began texting her son a photo of his dad at In-N-Out Burger to remind him what he was missing by moving out of the state.
“We miss him and just kind of want to share with him something that we have in California that he doesn’t have in Seattle,” Patricia Burry, who also lives in Orange, told ABC News. “I want our son to miss his father and to miss In-N-Out Burger.”
Burry, who has lived with her husband in California for nearly 60 years, said a typical text exchange with her son goes something like this.
“I wrote, ‘75 degrees and In-N-Out,’ and he texted back, ‘Torture, this is just torture,’” she said.
When Daniels, a high school senior, discovered the text exchange between her grandparents and uncle, she got such a kick out of it that her grandparents added her to the conversation too.
“Grandpa always gets the number two meal on the menu: ‘Animal Style,’” Daniels said, referring to the California-based chain’s option of a hamburger with extra spread and mustard grilled into the meat patty. “And my grandmother just gets a hamburger and they split the fries.”
Daniels and her uncle have received so many texts over the nearly two years since the family tradition started that they created collages of the photos. When Daniels tweeted the collages, they quickly went viral.
One of the first retweets came from Burry, who stays up to date on social media thanks to her granddaughter’s help.
“I’ve learned to get on Facebook and Twitter to stay in contact with my family and friends,” Burry said.
Burry’s In-N-Out texts though are a direct way to reach her son nearly 2,000 miles away.
“He does write back and say that he misses us and that’s important,” she said. “It’s just a way of connecting…that’s what I wanted [the texts] to do.”