You don’t expect a fine dining experience when you go to a fast food restaurant. That’s not the point of it at all. But it’s not unreasonable to expect fresh food and a clean environment. That doesn’t see like too much to ask, right? Unfortunately, even though it might appear like that’s what you’re getting, McDonald’s employees say otherwise. Several staff members took to Reddit to share all the dirty little secrets from behind the scenes of their restaurant. It’s said that ignorance is bliss and, in this case, that seems to be true. The inside scoop these employees provide could very well ruin your favorite fast food joint forever. If you’re feeling brave, prepare yourself to learn about ten McDonald’s menu items that even the staff won’t eat.
10. Smoothies and Milkshakes
Hopefully you’re not in the process of drinking a McDonald’s smoothie or milkshake while reading this list. If you are, you’re in for a bit of a shock, because we’re kicking things off with a rough one. Apparently, the machines that make smoothies and milkshakes can get pretty disgusting. In fact, one Redditor commented that, as an employee at McDonald’s, there were times when the machine got so gross that they would actually tell customers that it had broken and required maintenance because they felt guilty about serving them drinks from it. The residue left behind by previously made drinks can build up and get pretty nasty. The milkshake machines in particular have been said to get quite “crusty” if they’re not cleaned often enough. Which, allegedly, they aren’t. This all sounds pretty bad, but, one staff member reported that at the McDonald’s where they work, they do in fact clean the smoothie machines. And it was somehow so much worse, because they claimed that glass-cleaner was used to wipe it down. That’s probably not what you want used to clean things that hold your food. We’re not doctors here, but it doesn’t sound like something you want to be ingesting. If this wasn’t enough to kill your appetite, just wait until you see what some of the next entries on this list have in store for you.
9. Onions Have Layers
You’d think that, at the very least, the vegetables at McDonald’s would be fresh. The lesson here is that it’s best to never assume things. Onions are a staple hamburger topping. Many of McDonald’s best burgers have them. Turns out that, instead of getting their onions fresh from the supermarket, McDonald’s buys them dehydrated. To get them looking the way they do on your burger, they first have to be submerged in water. Just like onions themselves have layers, so does the process through which they’re prepared at McDonald’s. This is one fact that can easily get blown out of proportion, as one McDonald’s employee was quoted as saying that the onions used in your favorite burger are actually made from powder, which sounds a lot sketchier than the truth. Learning they’re just dehydrated is boring when compared to the rumor that they’re made from some weird, genetically modified, powdered concoction. The reasoning behind using dehydrated onions instead of fresh ones is quite simple. McDonald’s chooses to use dehydrated onions because it means that they don’t have to worry about them rotting. That also means that you don’t have to worry about not getting a fresh onion on your burger. Well, technically it’s not fresh-fresh, but… well, you get the point. Even so, it’s not something you want to think about while eating them. This kind of knowledge could easily ruin McDonald’s onions for you. Just keep in mind that they’re not dangerous, or unhealthy. So, if you’ve eaten them before and haven’t noticed a difference, just go on with your life and pretend you never learned this weird tidbit of information.
8. Size Matters
You know those small burger patties? The ones in Big Macs and Double Cheeseburgers? Well… if you’re a burger fan and prefer to remain in blissful ignorance, maybe skip this entry. Because, odds are, you’re not going to like what we have to say. Before we get into the meat of it (pun intended), take note of the fact that some McDonald’s employees on Reddit claimed that this isn’t something that applies to their restaurants. So, it’s not necessarily a widespread thing, meaning that your local McDonald’s burgers are likely safe. But, according to one employee, there’s a possibility that the patties you’re served are undercooked. Allegedly, they’re tossed on the grill, then quickly pulled off, still bloody. Afterwards, they sit around for ages waiting to be served. Sounds delicious. And not at all unhealthy. Even though this is an issue that probably doesn’t occur at most McDonald’s locations, if you find yourself wanting to avoid the smaller hamburger patties as a precaution, you might be out of luck. Most of McDonald’s burgers are prepared with the smaller 1.6-ounce patties. Although you could kick it Pulp Fiction style and order a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, which uses a 4.25-ounce patty. Just don’t try to order it in France.
7. Skip the Sodas
You’ve probably heard the horror stories about the ice in McDonald’s fountain drinks. If you haven’t, apparently the ice machines can get pretty nasty, thanks to the fact that they’re not cleaned nearly as frequently as they should be. If you’re familiar with that particular rumor, you probably thought you were playing it safe by drinking your sodas at room temperature. We’re sorry to have to break it to you that that probably wasn’t the play either. Skipping the ice still isn’t enough. Like the milkshake and smoothie machines, the soda machines don’t seem to be getting the tender love and care they need. A McDonald’s employee claimed that running cleaning cycles on the beverage machines every two weeks is technically allowed. That’s a pretty big window of opportunity for bacteria and who knows what else to accumulate. Even worse, the soda machines seem to be especially neglected. Apparently, you should count yourself luck if your Coca-Cola is from a machine that’s been cleaned once in the past two weeks. Reportedly, if you were to disassemble a McDonald’s fountain drink machine and take a look inside, you’d be greeted with a buildup of old, partially solidified syrup. Sounds lovely. Maybe it’s time to start replacing fountain drinks with bottled beverages. Or, you could wait until you get home and crack open a can of Coke there. You can even add ice without having to worry about the infrequently cleaned ice machine.
6. Don’t Look Inside
You probably thought that condiments would be safe. Getting ketchup from a McDonald’s dispenser isn’t something anyone ever really thinks about, it’s just something they do automatically. However, this is a habit we could all probably do with breaking. It’s not so much the condiment you have to worry about, but the dispenser itself. This is a common thread that runs through many of these entries. The food would be fine if it were properly taken care of. Unfortunately, it seems like corners are being cut more often than not. McDonald’s employees have admitted to not cleaning ketchup dispensers as regularly or as thoroughly as they should. Additionally, there’s no knowing how long it’s been since the bag of ketchup has been changed. Typically, you can expect the ketchup supply to be replenished only when it’s been emptied to the point that it won’t dispense anymore. Considering how much ketchup those things hold, chances are that’s not nearly as often as you’d want. While the outside of the dispenser gets wiped down enough to keep it looking presentable, what’s going on inside might be enough to curb even the strongest appetite. We’ll leave that up to your imaginations, though. Take this as a reminder that appearances aren’t everything. You can never know what’s going on behind the scenes. Instead of using the dispenser, grab some ketchup packets on your way out of the store. You’ll be doing yourself a favor.
5. America’s Favorite Dessert
McFlurries aside, no one has ever gone to a McDonald’s for the explicit purpose of ordering dessert. Honestly, you might even have been surprised to learn that McDs even sells other desserts. Well, they do. In fact, they have an entire “bakery” line, including items like apple pie and chocolate chip cookies. After finishing your nuggets and fries, you might find yourself with room for dessert and, upon seeing America’s favorite dessert listed on the menu, you just might order yourself a nice, single-serving, apple pie. And that would be a mistake. You see, not very many people order apple pie from McDonald’s (a fact that surprises no one), so they end up sitting on the shelf all day long, just waiting to be eaten. The updated version of McDonald’s apple pie isn’t even supposed to be that good to begin with, so it’s probably inedible after sitting out for hours. There’s been some buzz on social media about how these pies are no good, which probably didn’t help sales any. And you know what that means? Since customers are further deterred from buying them, the pies are sitting around for longer than ever. If you find yourself craving something sweet, maybe pass on McDonald’s and go support your local bakery instead.
4. The McRib
The McRib is an iconic sandwich. A cult-classic, a thing of legend. After a short run as an official menu item in the early eighties, it was pulled due to poor sales. Since then it’s had several short rereleases that’ve occurred periodically over the years. Its return to the menu is usually determined by lower pork prices and is removal by increasing prices. The McRib is something McDonald’s employees cringe at the thought of it. They implore you to stay far, far away at all costs. They say that before the sandwich is prepared, a sauce-free McRib couldn’t look less like meat. Someone actually went as far as to compare it to a “scab”. How appetizing. The McRib gets a lot of hype, but it’s all talk. Everyone’s heard of it and, yet, no one orders it. This makes the McRib situation very similar to the apple pie conundrum. It’s prepared at the start of the day, hot, fresh and ready to be purchased. But, since so few people order the McRib, it waits around for hours before it’s sold. By that point, it’s no longer hot and no longer fresh. If you’re one of the few people who actually enjoys a McRib from time to time, think carefully before you place that next order. Do you really want this “scab”-like patty that’s just spent all day soaking in sauce behind the counter? If you think the taste it worth it, more power to you. You truly have a stomach of steel. Everyone else, employees included, are going to be distancing themselves from this strange looking sandwich as much as they possibly can.
3. Sure, That’s Definitely Decaf…
You might have already been warned off of McDonald’s coffee because they don’t clean the machines properly. That’s a whole other issue that we’re not going to get into today. This entry goes out to all of you who love the taste of coffee but who find yourself wanting to avoid the caffeine rush that comes with it. If you’ve ever ordered decaf at McDonald’s to bypass the coffee jitters, you might be in for a nasty surprise. At fast food restaurants, the supply of filtered coffee needs to be refreshed every few hours. During the morning rush, there’s no problem. Pots of both regular and decaf coffee are made fresh, just like clockwork. As the day goes on, less and less coffee is ordered. Decaf, which was already in much lower demand during the busy morning hours, is hardly ever asked for. As a result, it’s made far less often than regular coffee. This means that, if you happen to go into McDs and order a decaf coffee at the wrong time, they might not have anything to give you. It depends on the restaurant you’re at but it’s happened that, instead of informing the customer that they’re out of decaf, the employee has simply given them a cup of regular instead. So, while there’s nothing wrong with McDonald’s decaf coffee, employees know better than to order it, as they can’t be sure that that’s what they’ll be getting.
2. New or Limited-Edition Items
Like many other fast food chains, McDonald’s is always coming out with new or limited-edition items. People go crazy over new food items, especially when they’re only going to be around for a short period of time. Oftentimes, they end up disappointed with these new products, not because they’re inherently bad, but because they’re not made well, or are lacking certain ingredients. This is because there’s a learning-curve that comes with adding new items to the menu and, unfortunately, McDonald’s employees aren’t always given the time they need to learn how to make them. The kitchens are fast-paced, stressful environments, and they don’t have the opportunity to slow down and try to perfect the procedure. It’s not fun for the employees, as trying to put together a burger they have no idea how to make adds extra stress to their already hectic day. Furthermore, it’s not fun for you. Few things are worse than the sinking feeling of disappointment that comes from getting back to your desk at work and pulling out the lunch you’ve been dreaming of since nine in the morning, only to realize that it’s made completely wrong. Make the lives of fast food workers easier and save yourself the sadness of having to pay for and eat a meal you didn’t order and pass on the limited-edition items. As for the new additions to the menu? Give them a couple of months, so the McDonald’s staff can get used to making them. Then you can great yourself to the new burger you’ve been dying to get your hands on.
1. Unless You Know It’s Fresh… Try Another Restaurant
On Reddit, several people who’ve worked at McDonald’s posted about how food is left out much longer than it should be. Timers are set to signify that the food has been sitting out too long and needs to me replaced. Allegedly, employees just reset the timer when it goes off, instead of throwing out the food like they’re supposed to. That’s why the McDonald’s employees on Reddit don’t recommend ordering from their restaurant unless you can guarantee that the food you get is fresh. However, they’ve got something to say about how you go about making sure of that. “Life hacks” to help guarantee that your McDonald’s order will be fresh can be found all over the Internet. The most popular is probably to order your fries without salt, since they’re usually salted as soon as they come out of the deep fryer. Other people will claim they have allergies, so their food has to be prepared fresh and in a freshly cleaned area to avoid cross-contamination. If you try out the former, the McDonald’s employee serving you will likely know exactly what you’re doing and probably be pretty annoyed that you couldn’t just be upfront about what you want. If you do the latter, you’re making a ton of extra work for the staff, because employees take allergies very seriously. You want to know the real life-hack for getting fresh food at McDonald’s? Just ask! And then don’t complain about the long wait time. The employees get it. They know exactly how long the food sits out and are well aware that it tastes much better when it’s fresh. They’d just rather you ask them straight up than try to trick them into giving you fresh food.