Working at a fast-food restaurant can be a wonderful experience. You get to learn all the cool tricks and hacks that go into making your favorite menu items. However, it can also possibly ruin a lot of things you used to love. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. Here are 1o Fast Food Items You Should NEVER Buy (According To Employees).
10. Chicken Sandwiches
There seems to be a new war brewing between fast-food chains to come up with the ultimate chicken sandwich. Chick-fil-A, Popeyes, KFC, and now even McDonald’s have all joined the quest to deliver the best chicken sandwich possible. While it’s admirable to see them all try so hard, according to some of their employees, the chicken sandwiches are probably the last thing you should ever order. Even though a new sandwich does get a lot of hype when it first comes out, that hype eventually dies down, and the sales become less frequent, meaning fewer people order them. You can probably figure out where this is going. When fewer people are ordering them, the longer the chicken spends time in the warming tray, becoming “less than fresh” by the minute. And since fast-food joints can’t afford to simply throw out the older pieces, and still need to have some on standby, you will most likely get the ones that have been sitting around for hours. It will probably be rock hard, dry, and the chances of getting a refund are pretty slim. An employee even revealed that once, a piece of crispy chicken had been sitting in the warmer from opening until the changeover, then from the changeover to the end of their shift. So, as tasty as chicken sandwiches might be, if you’re hoping for some fresh, crispy chicken, you could possibly be in for a disappointing surprise.
A few fast-food chains have integrated chili on their menus, and at first glance, it looks like a fancy, tasty item that adds something a little extra to your fast-food experience. However, looks can sometimes be deceiving, and according to fast-food workers, so is the taste, quality, and overall freshness of their chili. Usually, people are all about the “reduce, reuse, and recycle” mantra, but when it comes to food, we would hope that this wasn’t always the case, but as it turns out, fast-food chili fits every criteria on this bill. Chili is made from burger meat that’s stayed too long on the grill and is now too old, hard, and dried-out to be sold as burgers. Whenever a burger is cooked, it is only considered ‘good’ for a certain amount of time, so when it passed its “best before” quota, it gets thrown in a bucket next to the grill. Then the bucket is either bagged and frozen or even just left there. And whether the bucket is covered or not, well, that’s just a matter of whether the person is considerate or not. The grease of the meat ends up congealing and more often than not turns grey and soggy, so the employee will dump it in a big colander, run hot water over it, mash it into tiny pieces again, and voila, it’s ready to be used in the next batch of chili. Plus, the beans used are dried, not canned, and undercooked kidney beans can be highly toxic. Still fancy a bowl of chili with your “fresh” burger?
8. Ice Cream
There’s arguably no better way to top off a fast-food meal than with a nice, cold ice cream treat. Many fast-food restaurants offer their very own selection of frozen desserts, from McFlurrys, Frostys, milkshakes or sundaes – take your pick. But, there is a downside; there always seems to be a problem with the ice cream machine! It’s like playing the lottery every time you pull up at your local fast food joint. Well, apparently, there is a very good explanation as to why these machines are always down. Sometimes, yes, it is because of technical issues, but most of the time? It’s to undertake some very-well needed maintenance. A shift supervisor at a fast-food place that serves ice cream revealed that they still refuse to eat anything that contains ice cream simply because they know how disgusting and infrequently cleaned the machines are. Mold supposedly likes to grow in the liquid mix, which later settles on the machine’s walls. Since it’s not cleaned very often, it just stays there until finally, they decide to get rid of the spoiled cream. Another employee disclosed that the owner’s “fix” was to “was to scrape off a layer of mold and spray some Clorox on it.” So, next time you’re told the machine is broken, just tell yourself it’s probably for the better.
7. Chocolate Sauce
Chocolate sauce is one of these things that can make just about anything better. Whether it’s a latte, an ice cream cup, or even surprisingly enough, a burger – if you’re into the whole sweet and salty thing. Now, if the place you go to has some store-bought, generic chocolate sauce, you should be okay, but according to fast-food workers, if it’s made in-house, then you might want to steer clear of the stuff. At least, unless you know if it was freshly made or not. Homemade chocolate sauce might sound like a delicious treat, but the problem is, it doesn’t take very long before it starts to spoil – a couple of days tops. This technically shouldn’t be an issue since, most of the time, the chocolate sauce gets used up pretty quickly, meaning it’s made fresh almost daily. However, the chocolate sauce container is the real culprit here. According to an employee at a popular coffee chain, the only time the sauce container gets cleaned properly is when they run out of sauce during slow times. Otherwise, they just keep on dumping freshly prepared chocolate sauce on top of the old, moldy residue, over and over until it’s slow again. If you want a piece of advice, order your coffee plain and add some sugar instead, you can’t be too careful with those moldy sauces!
6. Chipotle Tacos
When you want to eat some delicious, maybe not-so-authentic Mexican food, your first instinct is to probably go to Chipotle. With so many menu options and ways to customize them, you can be sure to find something that fits your ever changing cravings. However, as much as having a lot of options can be fun and convenient, according to Chipotle workers, there are certain things that aren’t even worth your time – or money. If you want the best bang for your buck, it is advised that you stay away from the tacos. Don’t get us wrong, they do taste incredible, but apparently, you might be getting ripped off. An ex-Chipotle worker revealed that by ordering the tacos, you’re getting less than half of the regular portion of a burrito for the same price! They might be good if you don’t want to get all of the extra calories that come with the burrito, sure, but there is a better option than wasting your money on some tiny, half-filled taco. The best solution is to order a burrito bowl. You can fill it as much as you want, with as many things as you want. The only thing you have to do ask for taco shells, either hard or soft, on the side, and bam! You have got your very own make-it-yourself taco – all while getting your money’s worth!
5. Hot Dogs
No matter where you go or what day of the week it is, there’s never a bad time to enjoy a couple of hot dogs. Whether it’s at a baseball game, a fair, or even the mall, when you crave a hot dog, it’s hard to say no. However, it turns out that sometimes, you might be better off preparing your own dog at home, as they’re not always prepared with the best of care at certain fast-food joints. This is according to insider sources – the employees themselves. Hot dogs are usually cooked on the rotating grill for all to see, and if by the end of the day, they haven’t all been sold, the employees are supposed to toss them in the trash – which seems logical. But, some managers are greedier than others, and a worker revealed that sometimes, they would be asked to put them in the fridge and serve them the next day in a chili dog or cheese dog where the customer wouldn’t be able to see it properly. Even though they were almost burnt and wrinkly. Yummy. And if you’re hoping to get a better experience at the baseball stadium, think again because the same cycle plays out at concession stands. Employees have said that they keep the hot dogs hydrated in warming water, and the unused portions get refrigerated and reused for the next event. So, if there hasn’t been any ball game at your stadium in the last month, it might be cause for concern. It might even be time to sneak in your own hot dogs.
4. Anything With Fish
It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that fish and fast-food aren’t exactly the best of friends. Chicken and beef seem to thrive in the biz – minus a few exceptions – but the fish? Oh, how it could be so much more – especially when it comes to fish sandwiches. A fast-food worker had a lot to say about their workplace and the truth hiding behind its fish sandwiches. First of all, the thing apparently just smells horrible. The fish patties will usually arrive frozen and need to be dunked in the fryer for about four minutes – mostly to get rid of the foul smell. Plus, unsurprisingly, the patties tend to sit in the warmer for pretty much forever. But the fish is not the only problem with the sandwich – there’s also the questionable tartar sauce. It’s supposed to be cooled in a larger container to preserve the freshness. However, it’s usually more room temp than cool, meaning you get served a lukewarm sauce with a just-defrosted fish patty. Plus, since fish sandwiches aren’t exactly the most popular item on the menu, it would spend a long time in that warming tray, giving it a nice, greenish-brown color. The best way to ensure a minimum of freshness is to ask for it to be cooked to order. The fish sandwich – or fish in general from any fast-food restaurant – is never fresh, not by any stretch of the imagination.
3. Almost Everything At Panera Bread
Panera Bread is usually where you go if you want freshly made pasta, hearty soups, or homemade sandwiches. However, what goes on behind the kitchen doors might make you question what Panera Bread’s version of freshness is next time you visit. Contrary to what you might believe, the pasta isn’t made fresh at the restaurant. None of it. It arrives frozen and needs to be thawed out at the restaurant before it’s served – and yes, that includes the popular mac and cheese. Another supposedly fresh dish that really isn’t – the soups. Every soup also arrives frozen in a bag. An employee revealed that they were thawed using a “re-thermalizer,” a sink full of heating elements that boiled water. Obviously, the sink wasn’t cleaned out all the time, and well, sometimes bags burst. And finally, the lemonade. An ex-employee witnessed their fellow coworker simply running water through it and setting the machine back without using any sanitizer and call it quits. No sanitizer whatsoever. All of the lemon pulp is then still caked on the side, which probably makes for some crusty lemonade. Maybe you should just stick to sandwiches or salads and water next time you go – just to be safe.
2. Baked Potato
There aren’t a lot of fast-food places that serve baked potatoes as a side. Actually, there’s only one, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to figure where this next employee used to work. It’s kind of a shame, though that, not more fast-food restaurants offer baked potatoes as a substitute their fries. We are suckers for potatoes, after all. But, according to this employee, it might be for the best. They were pretty clear; under no circumstances should you order a baked potato after 4 PM. Like ever. The restaurant stops making them after lunch, meaning they will use every single last one of them until they’ve used them all. Even if it’s 10 PM. The only time they do make more is when they run out, which doesn’t happen very often. They will just sit in the warmer going soft and brown. The employees are supposedly also told that if a potato is sitting around for a while looking less than perfect, then to cover it in toppings to mask any visual cues hinting that it’s far from being even remotely fresh. So, if you’re looking for even a little bit of freshness from your baked potato, the best time to do so is at lunch. Otherwise… There’s no telling what it will look like.
Okay, this one might not be so much of a surprise because, well, the secret’s been out for while; soda machines are disgusting. But, it seems like the constant advice from the fast-food workers who’ve seen it all still hasn’t reached enough people yet, so here it is again. The soda machines, as well as the ice machines, are pretty hard to clean, meaning they’re not cleaned very often – or very well. According to one employee, the machines usually are left alone until they stop producing ice. For that to happen, you need a serious amount of slime, calcium, algae, or a combination of all three. Plus, the soda nozzles are also hardly cleaned, which leaves sticky soda syrup collecting under the machine. And where there’s sugar, there are inevitably bugs. Many employees reported finding a bunch of roaches not only in the mechanical parts of the ice maker but in the ice itself as well. So, if you’re a little squeamish or just have certain standards when it comes to what goes into your body, maybe steer clear from the soda machine at fast-food places.