Have you ever wondered what really goes on behind the doors at the fast-food restaurants you frequent? It’s true, everyone has secrets, but what’s the worst that they could be hiding? Well, fast-food companies are like every other corporation: they’ve all got skeletons in their closets. Here are 10 Huge Secrets Fast Food Restaurants Try To Hide From You.
10. “Where’s the Beef?” Where’s the fair wage?
Everyone knows the iconic “Where’s the Beef” commercial that Wendy’s put out more than thirty years ago. In it, a sweet old lady by the name of Clara Peller sassily demands of Wendy’s competitors, “Where’s the beef?” The commercial was a huge win for Wendy’s, and it even made Clara Peller into a little bit of a celebrity. She even got onto WrestleMania! But despite the fact that her catchphrase earned tons of fame for the fast-food company, Wendy’s apparently paid Peller close to nothing. She reportedly earned only $317 a day for her first commercial, and not much more for her second one. Wendy’s claims that she earned close to half a million, but she denied making that much. Because she wasn’t paid much by Wendy’s, she accepted a deal with Prego meat sauce, in which she claimed “I found it! I found it!” And guess what? Wendy’s fired her for it. Wendy’s claims it’s because the commercial she was featured in infers that Clara found the beef in somewhere other than Wendy’s restaurants. Pretty rich coming from a company that pushes wholesome family values. Maybe if they had compensated her for her participation in one of their most quotable commercials, she wouldn’t have had to take work elsewhere. But no, apparently paying someone fairly was too much of on investment for a multi-billion dollar company. Oh well, you live and you learn.
9. The McDonald Brothers Were Put Out of Business by a McDonald’s
Ray Kroc is the supposed founder of the McDonald’s franchise, but behind the scenes, he was a petty tycoon. He joined up with the McDonald brothers after they’d already franchised six locations, and after he joined, he immediately began plotting. Because the brothers were technically his bosses, he had to get their approval for every change he wanted to make, and he despised not having that control. He offered to buy the company, and the brothers asked for $2.7 million, plus 0.5 percent of future company royalties. Kroc supposedly snapped, throwing a hissy fit in their office, calling the brothers selfish for demanding such a huge cut for company. Kroc eventually caved and paid the brothers, but he immediately went back on his offer and cut them out of the royalties, which could have made them hundreds of millions of dollars. Don’t worry – it gets worse. After they sold the company, the brothers went back to running their original restaurant, under a new name – Big M. Kroc allegedly hated this, so he opened a McDonald’s nearby in order to run them out of business. The worst part? It actually worked. Big M was forced to shut down, and Kroc was free to do whatever he wanted with the company he’d scammed his way into.
8. McDonald’s Fries Still Aren’t Vegetarian
If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you’re probably not going to be eating a lot of fast-food. But an order of fries could still be a good treat! Right? Well, the next time you decide to pull up to the golden arches and order some fries, you should know that McDonald’s fries are not, and have never been, vegetarian. Despite numerous complaints and lawsuits, the company refuses to cater to the vegetarian and vegan demographic. The thing is, in many other countries, they already have. For example, McDonald’s in India don’t use lard for their fries. They don’t use any animal products at all, and they seem to do just fine. However, in America, when the company decided to switch out the oil for a veggie-based on instead, their customers complained about the lack of flavor. The company’s solution was to add natural beef flavor to the spuds during the production cycle. You may be familiar with the class-action lawsuit that hit this famous company in 2000. The lawsuit was led by multiple Hindu customers, who felt they’d been duped into unwittingly consuming animal products – something which is against their religion. Their cries were joined by vegetarians and vegans alike, pointing out that the company was misleading their customers. While the fries were now being cooked in vegetable oil, the company had to admit that the spuds were being coated in beef flavoring, and so McDonald’s settled for $10 million (with over half of it going to vegetarian organizations). And while their customers are visibly upset about this lack of vegetarian options, the company has no plans to change. A representative said that while their fries are prepared differently in other countries, they were going to continue with the way they’re prepared in the US. In other words, vegetarians, consider yourself warned.
7. Taco Bell’s Mascot is Stolen
Gidget, also known as the Taco Bell chihuahua, was Taco Bell’s mascot from 1997-2000. This adorable chihuahua was voiced by Carlos Alazraqui and became a great addition to the brand. So whatever happened to this lovable canine? Well, how about becoming the subject of a massive lawsuit. The creators of the ad campaign were Joseph Shields and Thomas Rinks. The pair claims that they came up with the idea for a “Psycho Chihuahua“ and pitched advertising ideas and commercials to Taco Bell. The company allegedly then broke off the contract with Rinks and Shields but still went on to use the character. Fortunately, the pair won the lawsuit, and it only took the jury a few hours to decide. Taco Bell was ordered to pay the pair $30 million, but they weren’t done. Taco Bell hit the duo with a counterclaim, saying that it was all the ad agency’s fault, not theirs. This plan backfired, and the company was ordered to pay an additional $12 million in interest on the judgement. But whatever happened to the dog? Well, in 2002, Gidget furthered her career by appearing in a GEICO commercial. She also had a part in Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, & Blonde, as Bruiser’s mom. Sadly, in 2009, at the ripe age of 15 years old, Gidget was put down after suffering a stroke. When they heard about this, Taco Bell expressed their deepest sympathies to the owner and fans alike.
6. The Truth About Domino’s Pizza Tracker
In theory, the pizza tracker is a great idea. You know exactly the stage of creation your pizza is in, and then once it’s out the door, you know exactly when your pie is going to show up. But some pizza connoisseurs say that Domino’s is hiding the truth. Think about it: is there really a button that employees push to indicate that your pizza is now out of the oven and into the box? The truth is, the app is lying to you. According to one former pizza deliverer, the pizza tracker doesn’t so much reflect the truth – but what the company wants to be true. Domino’s knows how long it should take one of their employees to make a pizza after it’s been ordered, but we all know that things don’t always work like clockwork. Not only is the app lying to the customer, it also puts pressure on employees. The app doesn’t take into account the store’s delivery range or the popularity of the store. Corporate says that a driver should only be making 2-3 stops per delivery, but for certain locations, that’s just not possible, and some drivers are forced to make 4-8 stops each time. However, because of the timer, employees have a huge amount of pressure put on them. The app sends the stats of the store back to corporate, and they analyze the numbers to see if a particular location needs more or less supervision – aka people breathing down the manager’s backs. How do they cope? Well, employees have found a way to fudge the stats. They have several tricks, from lying about how quickly the pizza is made, to claiming there are twice as many drivers doing runs. In short, if your pizza tracker claims your pizza has been delivered but it’s not yet on your table, know that it’s probably due to some poor overworked employees trying to make their numbers look good.
5. Why It’s Called “Soft Serve”
Everyone agrees that ice cream is the best treat on a sweltering summer day, but if you plan to stop by your local fast-food joint for it, you’d be out of luck. Have you ever noticed that at every fast-food chain you go to, they never have ice cream? It doesn’t matter which brand it is – Wendy’s, Dairy Queen, McDonald’s – it’s always soft serve. What gives? The reason is actually pretty simple: there are a lot of regulations for what can and can not be classified as ice cream. According to FDA regulations, a product has to contain at least 10% milkfat (also known as butterfat) in order to be named an ice cream. For example, the product that Dairy Queen uses in its cones, Blizzards, and sundaes only has 5% milkfat. Therefore it’s not technically ice cream. Technically it’s reduced-fat, but for some reason the brand isn’t marketing it that way. McDonald’s is in the same boat with their product. At one point in time, they even called it “ice milk”, invoking imagery akin to a brutal winter landscape. Yeah, soft serve definitely sounds a lot more appetizing.
4. Colonel Sanders’ Opinion of KFC
We’re just going to rip off the bandaid immediately: Colonel Sanders hated what KFC did to his recipe. Ok, let’s start at the beginning. Colonel Sanders was a real person who was born in 1890. He worked for decades perfecting his fried chicken recipe and getting people on board with his fried chicken vision. In 1964, he sold Kentucky Fried Chicken, and while he stayed on as the spokesman, he didn’t always agree with what the company did with his food. For example, in 1970, there was the great gravy dispute. Colonel Sanders’ gravy was indisputably delicious, but corporate complained that you had to be a scholar to cook it. It was costly, time-consuming, and too complicated to make for some 16-year-old kid working a part-time job. When they changed the recipe, Mr. Sanders spoke out, saying that it wasn’t even fit for his dogs to eat. Corporate wasn’t pleased that the KFC spokesman was speaking out against the brand, and in 1978, they sued him for libel, after he allegedly called the gravy “wallpaper paste”. Luckily for Colonel Sanders, the lawsuit was thrown out because the remarks weren’t about one particular location, but the damage was already done. We have no doubt that if he were still alive today, Colonel Sanders would refuse to eat the chicken he spent decades perfecting.
3. Chipotle vs Fair Wage for Workers
In 2006, Chipotle was approached by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and were asked to join their Fair Food Program. They’re a worker-based company whose goal is to help protect Floridian farm workers, pushing to secure fair wages and good working conditions for them. It shouldn’t be a big deal to say yes, right? Chipotle is the ‘Food with Integrity’ company, so protecting worker’s rights shouldn’t be that big of a deal – especially considering the high volume of tomatoes that Chipotle sources from Florida every year. Well, apparently, it was too big of an ask for this company. According to certain sources, it took Chipotle a full six years to sign it, and only after members of the clergy and other organizations protested at their headquarters. Chipotle claims that their mission aligned with the vision of the CIW, but they didn’t like some of the rules that they would be agreeing to. One of these said rules stipulated that the chain had to ask for permission from the CIW in order to source tomato growers outside of their network. At the time, Chipotle promised to do their best to only buy from CIW-supported farmers, but they made no guarantees. It leaves us wondering why it took them so long to make things official.
2. Is Starbucks Actually Fair Trade?
Being fair trade friendly is a huge part of Starbucks’ identity. They brag about how they love supporting the farmers who are growing our morning cup of joe, but in 2006, the coffee company had a huge falling out with Oxfam. Oxfam went as far to claim that Starbucks had blocked farmers’ attempts to trademark their coffee beans. This is a big deal: when it comes to selling their beans, a good trademark can give you the leverage you need to get a good deal out of buyers and suppliers. The director of Oxfam had nothing nice to say about Starbucks, claiming that they’re tying the hands of Ethiopian farmers who produce world-famous coffee, preventing them from taking full advantage of this to help work themselves out of poverty. Eventually, Starbucks went on to recognize the legitimacy of the names they’d tried to squander, and they were thankfully trademarked. However, the dispute was a huge blow to Starbucks, and it made them look very, very hypocritical.
1. The Issue With McDonald’s Machines
While you may not want to hear all the dirty little details, we’re here to deliver them to you. Have you ever noticed that McDonald’s soft serve machines go down like, all the time? It’s a common thing that happens just about everywhere, and people have been tweeting about it since the beginning of….well, Twitter. In 2017, the Wall Street Journal decided to get to the bottom of it, and what they found was worrisome. Not only did they discover the machines require a four-hour long cleaning cycle to get rid of bacteria that builds up in the system, they also found out that getting the machine ready for said cycle takes a time-consuming 11 steps. So, do they actually get cleaned as often as they should? You can probably assume that the answer is no, and you’d be right. A worker in Louisiana was actually fired after posting a photo of a moldy drip tray from the machine, and though the company claims that it never comes into contact with your food, do you really want to take the risk?