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Top 10 Dirty TRICKS of Fast Food Restaurants (Part 2)

It’s pretty obvious that when it comes to fast-food outlets, one hundred-percent transparency has never been a strong suit. Whether it’s by clear manipulation or sneaky mind games, no one is safe from the tactics that make you spend more. So be on high alert for these razzle-dazzle shenanigans, as we share more of the Top 10 Dirty TRICKS Of Fast Food Restaurants. 

10. Same Taste, Different Joint

Have you ever noticed that your burger from McDonald’s might taste just a tiny bit familiar? Perhaps, from the time you ate one from Burger King? If you have, you’re not the only one – and you’re not wrong either. No matter what you order,  the burger, the fries, the onion rings, or even the shake—they will all have the same somewhat recognizable taste. Essentially, they all taste like “fast food.” The reason for that is very simple; they’re all calibrated to appeal to our tastebuds in the best way possible. Basically, in a way that inspires us to keep eating – so it won’t be too meaty or too cheesy, it will be just right. This all works thanks to the part in our brains called the hypothalamus – which is what responds to food. It evolved to respond to sweet, salty, and bitter tastes, and that’s why we crave the types of food we do. However, fast-food has been designed to satisfy all of these taste desires. As in, you never crave anything else but this. If a certain recipe was proven to be effective, everyone else joined it to create the same kind of buzz. Plus, fast food is so highly processed, in general, that the flavor in it is often destroyed. So, in order to make up for this, the tastes and aromas are often manufactured at special chemical plants, giving very similar – practically the same – flavors to everything. At least, you know you won’t be disappointed with how it tastes… Right? 

9. Adjectives, Adjectives, Adjectives

When it comes to deciding what you want to eat, it all comes down to how delicious and enticing something sounds. If you could choose between a fried, greasy cheeseburger or a juicy, all-beef burger made with American cheese and crispy fresh cut produce, which one would it be? Chances are, you’re going to go with option number two – for obvious reasons. Some words just sound more appealing than others, and those are the ones that fast-food chains – and restaurants, in general, like to use the most to describe their menus. For every kind of food, there’s a whole set of clichéd adjectives that have been proven to work best in terms of sales. For instance, coffee is “aromatic,” beef “sizzles,” and ice cream is “rich.” Adding a bunch of meaningless adjectives like “flavorful,” “tasty,” and “delicious” to their menu items helps build expectations in their customers’ minds, which makes them more likely to order them. Plus, there is also a lot of wordplay going around too. Notice how fast-food chicken is no longer “fried,” now it’s “crispy” or “homestyle?” But that’s not all. Including fancy-sounding or exotic names can also bring an aura of authenticity. Like, what’s a Coolata? Who knows, but it sure sounds refreshing. So, if you find yourself ordering something because it sounds good, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t live up to your expectations. 

8. Pictures Speak Louder Than Words

Okay, yes, words are important; they’re what makes the whole meal sound irresistible. But, what if you got to see the actual item that went along with the description? That could change your ordering preference. Fast-food restaurants have a way with menu displays – the colorful ads, and impeccable illustrations can make just about anything look delicious. Of course, we already know that the way fast-food looks in advertisements is nothing like how it looks in real life. We’ve all experienced that disappointment of opening up a Big Mac only to see a sad, mushy sandwich, half-broken apart. It’s not like it should even be a surprise anymore, as 99% of the time, your order looks nothing like any picture you’ve seen. Even though we know this, we keep buying, hoping that this time, it’ll look more appealing. But it never does. And that’s all thanks to the giant billboards with fake food and touched-up pictures that we see just about everywhere. The simple fact of having a picture on the menu instead of just a name has proven to sell more – it gives visual support to the item you’re about to eat. And while you know it will look absolutely nothing like the picture, at that point, you’ve already been sold. And, they’re not placed about randomly. Through studies, menu planners have learned that we usually fixate on whatever’s in the upper right-hand corner of a menu. So next time you go through the drive-thru, pay attention to what first catches your attention.

7. Relax, Take It Easy

Fast-food restaurants are designed to make you leave as fast as you arrived, all thanks to some very specific food techniques, uncomfortable seats, harsh lighting, and a bunch of other targeted methods designed to make you eat as quickly as possible. However, it’s not the case with every feature of the restaurant. In fact, it might be the complete opposite when it comes to the self-serve kiosks. These ingenious, rather new additions to the fast-food world have been designed to allow you to place an order without actually having any sort of interaction. Instead of waiting in line at the cash to place your order, you can just hop on a kiosk and take your time to get exactly what you want – and that’s what they’re counting on. They want you to take as much time as possible so you don’t feel rushed or judged when you’re making your food choices. How considerate of them, isn’t it? Well, just being considerate is not exactly what fast-food places had in mind when they came up with the kiosks. They were actually installed to upsell. The more time you spend at the kiosk by yourself, the more likely you’ll explore the menu more and inevitably order more than you originally planned to. Studies even show that restaurants expect you to spend 20% more than if you ordered any other way. 

6. You Shall Eat What They Decide

You might think that you have something to say about what you will and won’t eat at your favorite fast-food joint, but in the grand scheme of things, it turns out that most of the time, you really don’t. Think about it – how many times have you walked up confidently to the cashier, hoping to only order one single burger, and ended up leaving with a side of fries and a large soda? Probably too many to count, and that’s what the combo industry is all about. Let’s face it; you don’t really need to get fries all the time. Your burger is already pretty impressive in terms of calorie count, and you don’t need to add too much to that. Take Wendy’s Baconator, for example. This bad boy contains 940 calories and 57 grams of fat; that’s enough. But, again, as a way to sell as much as possible, fast-food restaurants will offer you fries and a soda to “make it a meal.” And only for just a couple of bucks more. It sounds like a great deal, so you think why not? But here’s why not – you’re paying for something you didn’t even want in the first place. You didn’t change your mind because you suddenly wanted fries, it’s because you saw how “convenient” it would be. But don’t be fooled; it’s just marketing. Combo meals at burger joints make up a whopping 31 percent of all purchases, and the average combo packs 1,200 calories – all of which come with predetermined sides that the chain decides on. So, really, who decides what here? 

5. Warming Trays Are A Fast-Food’s Best Friend

Obviously, when you go to a fast-food restaurant, you don’t expect to receive a 5-star meal. Or even 4-star. But you do expect to get a minimum level of freshness, at least. That should be a given. Well, it’s not every fast-food place that thinks like that. A lot of places will just leave their food in warming trays a lot longer than they’re supposed to – in hopes of saving a few bucks. Let’s take McDonald’s McNuggets, for example. These little nuggets sometimes sit in a warming tray just waiting for someone to order them. Sure, they’re supposed to be thrown away after a set amount of time, but most of the time, the timer just magically resets, and they just stay there. That goes for any other food item that might not be the most popular on the menu. Like the Filet-O-Fish. If you want something that’s a least remotely fresh, a piece of advice, don’t order anything that’s not necessarily a fan favorite. But then again, popular or not, it might not even be a factor for some restaurants. According to a Reddit user, the beans at Taco Bell are something you should avoid at all costs. Why? Because they can stay in those trays for up to 18 hours. To keep them from becoming dry and crusty, water is added to them every 15 minutes. Apparently, everything is not what it seems in the fast-food world. 

4. The Coffee Can Actually Make You Sad

If you’re a coffee person, then you know just how much that morning coffee can make you happy. You were having a rough morning or simply had a bad night; a good old cup of coffee should do the trick, no biggie. But, did you know that ordering a coffee from a fast-food joint could actually have the complete opposite effect? It’s a simple explanation, really. First of all, caffeine, in general, isn’t the best serotonin booster out there. Caffeine can make it harder for you to fall asleep, and a lack of sleep can play on your mood, therefore, cause you to experience random waves of sadness throughout the day. But that’s generally speaking. If you drink a small amount of coffee every now and then, there shouldn’t be any real problem. However, when you order it from those styrofoam cups, that’s when the issue begins. You see, styrofoam can leak styrene, which is a neurotoxin that can cause depression and a loss of concentration. Highly acidic or hot beverages, like coffee, can draw the plastic compound out more effectively than regular cold water would. In other words, instead of making you feel energized and awake, fast-food coffee could actually make you worse, probably leading you to believe that you need another coffee – and another, and another- to get through the rest of the day. 

3. It’s All About The Color

If you had to think about one color – just one – that dominates the world of fast-food, which one would it be? If your answer is red, congratulations, you’ve cracked the code to efficient marketing! By now, you understand that nothing is random when it comes to fast-food restaurants, not even where your go-to item is placed on the menu. So it shouldn’t be surprising that even the colors of those said menus are not left to chance. While color theory isn’t the most exact science, there is still some pretty accurate proof that it might just be a thing. For instance, red has been associated as an appetite stimulant, and it seems like it holds up. After all, practically every fast-food chain has the color red in their logos, so it must doing something right. McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Chick-fil-A, KFC, you name it. Red is also the most popular color for food packaging and is used in table cloths and other forms of restaurant decor. It supposedly raises blood pressure, heart rate, and people’s desire to eat everything in sight. Other similar warm tints like orange, i.e., Popeyes, yellow – Subway – and pink – Dunkin Donuts – will get the job done as well. 

2. A Soda With A Side Of Mold, Please

Going back to the notion of freshness, there’s nothing more refreshing than a nice cup of soda to go with your fast-food meal. Especially when it’s ice-cold. The only problem is the ice. The ice at restaurants often comes with some controversial baggage. Apparently, ice machines are notoriously difficult to clean. You know where this is going, right? Hard to clean usually translates to hardly cleaned. And because they’re so nearly impossible to clean, it’s the perfect spot for all kinds of bacteria to mingle. A study done in 2010 found that around 48 percent of soda fountains at fast-food restaurants contain coliform bacteria, which is commonly found in feces. Yummy. Microbiologists have no idea how it even gets there in the first place, but they think that it’s most likely from dirty cleaning rags or unwashed customer hands. No matter where it comes from, it’s there, alright. And it’s not the only unwanted thing that can be found in an ice machine. there could also be mold. Because where there are bacteria and a lack of cleaning, there is bound to be some mold creeping around the corner, hidden at the bottom of the machine. 

1. From Beethoven To Top 40

The next time you’re eating at a nice, fancy restaurant, pay attention to the music that’s playing. Is it loud and fast, or more on the low and slow side? Probably the latter, and there’s a very specific reason for it. Most people might not pay attention to the type of background music restaurants play, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not affected by it. Subconsciously, the music can impact what items you buy and how long you’re going to stay in that restaurant. A study from 2012 showed that melodious tones of classical music and smooth jazz were the perfect fit for a sit-down restaurant. This music encouraged diners to stick around longer and eat more since they have time to digest. Which is exactly what fast-food restaurants don’t want – loiterers. It’s then in their best interest to blast the music loud and keep the tempo high to ensure a turnover of customers. It instills a sense of urgency, encouraging you to gobble up your food more quickly than you normally would. It’s probably not the greatest move for the customers’ waistlines, but it’s the best for restaurants’ budgets. Chances are, you will never – ever – hear anything besides fast-paced music at your local McD’s. If you do, then someone was probably asleep at the dial, and it was probably the last time that happened. 

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