When you really want to know the truth about something, it’s best to go to the source. And when it comes to what goes on in the kitchens of our nation’s fast-food restaurants, there is really no better source than the employees themselves. They’ve seen it, done it, and eaten it – or not eaten it, because they know the truth. Well, these secrets aren’t secret anymore. Here are 10 Incredible Fast Food Secrets Exposed By Fast-Food Workers.
10. Spitting In Your Food
On The Big Bang Theory, Penny often makes comments to Sheldon about how he should be nicer to the people that prepare his food because otherwise, they will spit in it. But Sheldon is certain that they will honor the Restaurant Workers’ Solemn Oath of Ethics and Cleanliness – until he learns that there is no such thing. Now, while we don’t think that most restaurant workers need an oath to keep them from spitting in our food, maybe there should still be one. We’ve all seen the security cam videos or even the videos taken by employees themselves showing them spitting into someone’s burger. And we’ve also read the comments from ex-employees and managers at fast food joints confirming that this goes on. Whether it’s a rude reply or a demanding order, or even just a crabby employee, sometimes, it just happens. And since this is probably most people’s worst nightmare, the best way to avoid the unwanted DNA sample in your food is to take Penny’s advice and just be nice, very nice. To be kind to those who serve you food should be the least you can do. Obviously, the only way to guarantee that your food is spit-free is to make it yourself. But, sometimes, you just want that juicy Big Mac without the fear of retaliation from the employee serving up your food.
9. Frozen Food
There is an entire generation of fast-foodies who can remember the classic Dunkin Donuts commercials featuring the “time to make the donuts” guy waking up really early in order to make the donuts fresh for the day. Well, when they retired those commercials, it looks like DD also gave up on their habit of making everything fresh at the restaurants as well (assuming they ever did). We know this because of a brave Dunkin’ employee who posted a video on TikTok showing the muffins, bagels, and donuts arriving frozen rather than being made on site. However, many DD-lovers defended the practice, saying that it’s ridiculous to think that a fast-food joint could actually make everything fresh all the time. They obviously grew-up after the retirement of the “time to make the donuts” guy! A similar “outing” happened on TikTok involving Panera Bread after an employee posted a video showing frozen packets of mac and cheese being heated up at the location. In regards to the “revelation,” Panera Bread released a statement saying that the mac and cheese is made offsite with their proprietary recipe but is shipped frozen to their bakery-cafes. They said that this allows them to avoid certain preservatives that don’t meet their standards. Take that for what you will, and you can decide if you want to order the frozen mac and cheese next time you go to Panera Bread.
8. Specialty Items
Many fast-food restaurants have special menu items that try to draw your eye and your stomach to them. But as it turns out, specialty items aren’t always that special. Sometimes, it’s really less amazing than you would expect, especially since the price usually goes way up. To paraphrase, a Reddit user said that specialty items are often just overpriced versions of cheaper items, with very little to nothing added on. This particular person used to work at a fast-food Japanese restaurant and said that they “had this thing called a Volcano roll, and it cost $7.25.” He went on to say that, “a California roll there cost $3.75. The Volcano roll was a Cali roll cut into the shape of a triangle and topped with spicy mayo that has been heated up with about 10 cents worth of fish, literally just a few bits.” He then said that people would be much better off ordering a Cali roll and paying a little extra for that same spicy mayo on the side. This idea applies to other types of fast food joints as well. Take a second to really compare the ingredients in a “specialty” item with similar and cheaper options on the menu, and we are pretty sure that you will often conclude that it just isn’t worth it. And sometimes, it’s also pretty easy to recreate the “special” option without making any crazy and annoying demands on the employees.
7. Less Popular Items aren’t As Fresh
You know that one special fast-food item you really like, but no one else seems to dig as much. Well, the unfortunate truth is that it probably isn’t the freshest thing on the menu. Put it this way: if an ingredient isn’t used much, then it probably isn’t being filled up much either. And if it isn’t being filled up and turned over very often, then, given the penny-pinching that goes on at most restaurants, the stuff you are getting has probably been sitting there for a little while. One anonymous Reddit user posted on the subject, saying that “unpopular ingredients are turned over less so you’re more likely to get something that was sitting around, perhaps even a little bad and picked over, freezer burned, chucked into the pits of a walk-in freezer and thawed for your dietary pleasure.” So if you’re the type of person who is concerned about freshness, it’s probably better just to go with the more popular items. Or, you know, at least make sure that one or two ingredients is also used in other popular items. But, who isn’t “concerned” about freshness? We guess you could ask the employees to make sure the items are “fresh” but then, you have to trust their answer and make sure you aren’t rude about it. Because we all know what rudeness can lead to.
6. Vegetarian Isn’t Always Vegetarian
These days, with the prevalence of vegetarian and vegan diets, many restaurants have jumped on the non-meat bandwagon in order to bring in those who would normally not even walk into a fast-food restaurant. But, all you vegans and vegetarians out there, be aware that things might not always be as they seem. A perfect example of this is the 2001 lawsuit filed against McDonald’s who claimed that their french fries were cooked in vegetable oil but failed to mention to people that they were also flavored with beef tallow – a form of beef fat – Oops! And while they did subsequently stop using beef tallow, they failed to mention yet another pretty important detail: they still use natural beef flavoring to give the fries that classic taste. So, yea, strike 2 for McD’s. But it sure isn’t just McDonald’s that has been guilty of such things. One user on Reddit explained that in high school, he had a friend who was vegetarian but loved going to this local Mexican restaurant to eat the burritos. Once he started working there he had to break her heart and let her know that the sauce in the burritos was a meat sauce. Basically, unless you’re eating at a vegetarian/vegan restaurant, you should beware of the ingredients used in your food and ask if there is any meat or meat products in the food you are ordering. Or better yet, do a quick Google search and find out before you even go to the restaurant.
5. “New” Specials Maybe Aren’t That special
Which of these menu items sounds better to you: “Our NEW special” or “Old food that’s about to expire, so we really need to get rid of it before we have to throw it out?” Well, what if we told you that both statements were describing the same thing? Words are important! And as many insiders and ex-employees have told us, restaurants will often make special dishes out of soon-to-expire food in order to sell it before they have to throw it out and make no money on it. Sure, sometimes a new special dish is actually the restaurant creating something new and wanting to see if people like it enough for them to move it to the permanent menu. But other times, as one Reddit user pointed out, it’s the kitchen, “trying to get you to buy a product before they have to throw it out.” This point was enforced by another comment from a user who said that when their brother, who is a chef, is eating with them, no one is allowed to order any of the specials unless he knows the chef working in the restaurant. Well, isn’t that special. NOT!
4. The “MEAT” at Taco Bell
One of the biggest questions people have about fast-food joints usually revolves around the meat. For decades, there have been questions raised concerning the meat used in all the chains. So much so that some chains, such as McDonald’s, A&W, and others, have produced huge ad campaigns all about answering those questions and trying to assure people that they use quality products. Then there’s Taco Bell. The questions about their meat have been circulating for years – and the rumors surrounding the quality of said meat have not been good. But thanks to some past employees of the chain, we have a little more knowledge about what the meat being used actually is. Or at least what it isn’t. According to one ex-Taco Bell employee on Reddit, you do not want to see how the meat comes into the store. The meat used for the tacos and other things of the sort comes in big plastic bags labeled ‘suitable for human consumption.’ Not only that, but apparently it also smells absolutely awful until the seasoning is added. Uh…thanks for that – I think. Now, we should point out that the comment was posted over two years ago, and it’s possible that Taco Bell has made changes to their meat prep since then. But if they haven’t, at least, as humans, it’s nice to know that the stuff they put in the tacos is suitable for us to consume.
3. Don’t Ask For Fresh Fries
Something we know a lot of people like to do is ask for fresh french fries. We’ve all been in line at a fast-food restaurant and had someone cut to the front of the line to complain about their french fries being cold and asking for them to make fresh ones. When this happens, are those people really getting fresh fries? The answer is probably not. The fact is, McDonald’s sells so many french fries that they generally aren’t sitting around for very long, so the ones you are getting have probably been made not too long ago. Which means, asking for fresh ones is just going to annoy the employees. An ex-manager of a McDonald’s restaurant said that employees hate when customers complain about cold fries that have literally just been made. And “When you do this, it’s the same as asking for a fresh hamburger — you’ll get old fries dunked in the oil for 15 seconds.” So, if that equates to “fresh” for you, then go ahead and ask. Although, now that we think about it, that kind of sounds like a way to get double-fried fries, which is actually the gold standard for french fries at many higher-end restaurants. So, maybe it’s worth trying the “my fries are cold” thing to see if that re-fry improves upon the already delicious Mickey D’s french fries, but do it at your own risk.
2. Gloves Don’t Equal Sanitary
This might be the grossest entry on our list – and that’s even with another entry that features a bag of smelly meat! We all know people’s hands are dirty, and unless they are washing them every few minutes, most of us would prefer to see the people preparing our food wearing gloves. Seeing gloved hands provides us with a sense of security and sanitary satisfaction. But how sanitary is it? Does it actually keep the food cleaner and free from the bacteria that we all have on our bare hands? The thing is, the gloves come out of the box fresh and clean, but they only remain that way if the people wearing them make an effort to keep them such. You see, wearing gloves doesn’t have any benefits if the employees treat the gloves as they do their bare hands. If you’re at all squeamish, you might want to skip this next part. To quote an ex-manager at McDonald’s, “Your food isn’t extra sanitary just because the grill workers wear gloves. Those same employees take out trash and even go to the bathroom without removing their gloves. I’ve also seen them scratch a few special places on their body while wearing gloves.” We aren’t sure what else to say after that.
1. How Clean And Sanitary Are The Restaurants
Unfortunately, it seems that most fast food joints end up cutting corners when it comes to the sanitary conditions of the restaurants. Now, obviously, management and the employees differ from one location to the next, so if one location is a mess, that doesn’t mean that all locations are going to be the same. But the problem is, you never really know. Everything might look clean from in front of the counter, but what you can’t see could hurt you. As the world saw in 2018 when a Popeye’s employee posted a video showing the awful state of her location in Detroit. Shakita Shemere exposed the awful food storage conditions – raw chicken thrown in the freezer, dirty containers, and garbage all over the floors. After the video went viral, you would have hoped that Popeye’s would have come out, praised Shakita for exposing the issue, and announced new policies to make sure this never happened again in any of their locations. That’s what we would have hoped for, but we think you can probably guess what really happened. Yup, she was fired! We know how good those Popeye’s chicken sandwiches are, but we also understand if this causes you to hesitate when ordering one in the future. Although, as we said before, just because this Detroit location was an unsanitary pit of despair, that doesn’t mean the location near you is suffering from the same woes.