Thousands upon thousands of people eat at McDonald’s restaurants every day – and you may be one of them – but just because the numbers are good doesn’t mean things are always rosy. Controversies and scandals have haunted the fast-food giant like ghosts in a Ghostbusters movie. Without getting slimed, here are the Top 10 Most Disgusting McDonald’s Facts that will always stick with us.
10. McD’s and Salt
A few years back, a fast-food franchise put out a commercial with anthropomorphic french fries and soft drinks talking to each other. At one point the fries blurted out “Salt is for suckers!” Now, that’s certainly not the way McDonald’s feels about salt. The fast-food giant certainly uses a lot of it in its menu items, and sometimes even a bit too much. While it’s true that most chefs insist that some salt is necessary to bring out the flavors in many foods, there is a huge difference between using salt and abusing it! McDonald’s’ salt overuse certainly doesn’t seem to bother people that much, as more and more salt keeps being added to their beloved menu items. Take the Quarter Pounder with Cheese: this cheeseburger has over 1100 mg of salt, which is nearly half of a person’s recommended daily allowance. The Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich may sound more healthy than the Quarter Pounder, but it has even more salt. This pile of salt works out to just over 80% of that same recommended daily allowance. That’s not exactly what you expect when you order a burger: a giant pool of regret. Does it really taste that salty, though? Maybe that’s why people don’t always realize just how much salt actually goes into their stomachs. It’s the perfect way to get kidney stones, that’s for sure.
9. Kiosk Roulette
If 2020 hasn’t reminded you of the importance of personal hygiene, then we don’t know what will. Hopefully, it reminded McDonald’s to clean their self-serve kiosks more often. Maybe they’re even cleaner than back in 2018 when tests conducted in the UK revealed all the junk that were commonly found on the touch screens. Everything from things called Enterococcus Faecalis and Staphylococcus or, in other words: poop bacteria. Obviously, these bacteria are often found where sick people are, like hospitals, but in a fast-food restaurant? No thank you. No, you can’t go to public places with a lot of people and expect to not come in contact with germs and all of that, granted, but don’t we all just wish people would wash their hands more often – especially right after using a bathroom at a restaurant where everyone is touching things? Businesses like McDonald’s have been under a lot of financial pressure for a while and one of the ways they plan to cut costs is by relying more on technology like self-serve ordering kiosks and less on people – even though we’ve already established that not every customer can be trusted to be responsible. There are always costs and setbacks with these kinds of decisions but poop bacteria on the touch screens shouldn’t be something you have to worry about while ordering your Happy Meal.
8. McDonald’s Apology Accepted?
No one likes to admit when they’ve done something wrong and multibillion-dollar corporations are no exception. But, sometimes it just seems necessary. McDonald’s found the strength to say sorry when it was revealed that their famous french fries were made using “natural beef flavoring.” This admission was particularly important to vegetarians, who believed the fast-food chain when they marketed the french fries as vegetarian. McDonald’s disputed this and responded that they never explicitly said the fries were vegetarian-friendly, which obviously, sparked another debate. But, in 2002, the company released a statement on their website saying they had no intent to inflict “any hardship” on anyone, vegetarians or not. Many questions still remain, like, what exactly is beef flavoring? And why was it added to McDonald’s french fries in the first place? Beef flavoring is a synonym for beef extract and is presumably added to fries to improve the flavor and make people want to eat them again and again. Does beef extract push people into a vicious addiction to french fries? Maybe, maybe not. Some people even think there’s some sort of devious conspiracy behind it. Well, apology or not, conspiracy or not, several news reports confirmed that the Golden Arches continued to use the ingredient for at least another decade in many countries. So, really, how heartfelt was that apology, anyway?
7. Happiest Meal On Earth
Almost everyone today is familiar with the McDonaldland characters from the Happy Meal! Especially if you were around when they were first introduced in the 1970s. Spoiler Alert! In case you didn’t know, McDonald’s has courted children as customers. For some people, this is a common-sense business decision, but for others, it constitutes nefarious and aggressive marketing tactics that needs to be addressed. Some health experts tried time and again to pressure the company into offering healthier choices for the Happy Meal and eventually made somewhat of a compromise. Parents can now choose milk instead of soft drinks and apple slices instead of fries. Not so bad, but not so great either. However, the kids of today don’t know any difference but we doubt anyone is ditching the toy just to get those apple slices! In a further bid to answer the calls to ease off on marketing to kids, McDonald’s jettisoned the McDonaldland characters like Mayor McCheese, Grimace, and the Fry Kids. Some pressure was also put to get rid of Ronald McDonald, the iconic clown, but the company drew the line there – at least for the time being. Some people are still upset by the influence held over the kids’ impressionable minds and don’t agree with how the fast-food chain is targeting their marketing strategies.
6. Not Just A Salad
According to some health advocates, the salads sold at McDonald’s can have more fat and calories than the fast-food chain’s famous cheeseburgers. Of course, it isn’t the lettuce or the tomatoes that pile on the calories, but the creamy salad dressings, the cheese, and the meat. Adding grilled chicken on a salad was a great idea, but adding the fried chicken in the Southwest Crispy Chicken Salad? Not so great. The serving of salad dressing alone usually has about 10 grams of fat and all the calories that go with it. Nixing the dressing would have been a good start, but most people are used to putting a tasty dressing on their salads. It’s mostly to compensate for the relative blandness of the lettuce. The fact that salads were encouraged as a healthy option is what makes this whole thing unsettling. You think you’re eating some less-fat, healthy salad, but you’re actually eating more calories than you would if you got a burger. By offering these so-called “healthier” options to their customers, McDonald’s has called into question their own menus’ legitimacy. A dirty little secret finally out in the open.
5. McD’s Monopoly And Scandal
McDonald’s longest-running and most popular promotion is definitely its crossover with the iconic Monopoly board game. But, just because it’s iconic, doesn’t mean it’s morally right. Between 1989 and 2001, almost every winner of the promotion was picked by an inside man. Ironically and almost comically, the man trusted to preserve the “security and order” of the game was the mastermind behind this entire scam. Jerome “Jerry” Jacobson, a former police officer, realized he had an opportunity to control the game. He gave the winning pieces to people in exchange for a cut of the winnings. As bizarre as the crime was, the investigation was led by a colorful special agent at the Federal Bureau of Investigation named Richard Dent. The FBI conducted a complicated and dramatic sting operation that involved filming the winners for TV spots in order to gather evidence against them. In August 2001, Jacobson and seven others were arrested. Eventually, 51 people were said to be involved in the sprawling case, and most of them were charged with fraud and conspiracy. The Monopoly promotion was so popular that McDonald’s decided to bring it back in 2016, minus the whole scandal part, we hope. This game and its checkered past is just another example of all the outrageous trickery McDonald’s has tried to pull on us over the years.
4. Hamburglar On The Run
In an effort to appease health food advocates and other groups that attacked McDonald’s for trying to appeal to children, McDonald’s had to let go of most of its colorful mascots and come up with new ideas. Although you might not remember, this move created a bit of a stir in the advertising world. Some people say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but judging by the reaction people had to the rebooted Hamburglar, the opposite may have been true. The character’s new look literally polarized customers. Transformed from a cartoonish rogue to a real-life hipster dad figure. It was all kinds of creepy. He looked too much like the kind of dude you wouldn’t want to hang around your kids at parties. I mean, most people are already freaked out by clowns enough as it is, so why bring another “kook” into the mix? Hamburger had been gone from McDonald’s PlayPlaces since 2002, so it’s hard to understand why McDs thought it would be a good idea to bring back the McDonaldland character and turn him into the most inappropriate, creepy man. Poor model. Having to be identified as every kids’ nightmare for the next few years – that’s got to be tough. The fast-food company probably should have quit while they were ahead and kept the Hamburglar retired. We sure don’t want any creepy man on our Happy Meals!
3. Those Aren’t Arches
There’s this Raquel Welch joke told in an episode of the 1990’s sitcom Seinfeld involving the Pope in a lifeboat with the Hollywood beauty. At some point, the Pope confuses her generous anatomical features and the punch line “Those aren’t buoys” is exclaimed. This is a corny old joke that goes way back to a different era. The McDonald’s franchise got its start in this era and the people who signed off on the famous golden arches logo might have been big fans of Ms. Welch. McDonald’s hired a psychologist to help with the design of the logo and he recommended that the “M” be shaped in a way that would evoke maternal love, or more specifically, the idea of breasts in customers’ subconscious. These efforts to affect people on a psychological level may seem odd to fast-food customers who frequently go to the fast-food chain for its tasty burgers and french fries. However, it’s a highly competitive billion-dollar industry and companies seek to gain an advantage, by any means necessary. In this context, they thought if there were any chance an association with a bosom would sell more burgers, then why not try it? This might not be a disgusting fact per se, but it is a little strange that this much thought was put behind it.
2. McDonald’s Hamburgers Forever
Restaurants and grocery stores are known to try and make food last as long as they can, because wasting food isn’t good for anybody. It’s not good business. However, McDonald’s may have unintentionally taken this too far. There have been tons of stories, or urban myths, depending on how you look at them, regarding this issue. Just like the alleged miraculous ability of Hostess Twinkies to last forever, McDonald’s hamburgers have been charged with the same extraordinary long lifespan. Some people have claimed that, after being cooked, the burgers can last for several years without ever decomposing. Over the years, people have shared pictures of their favorite menu items, like french fries, chicken nuggets, and hamburgers, to show just how long they can remain unspoiled. And the results are quite scary. A lot of experts and websites have tried to debunk these stories, or at least, give an explanation. One of the reasons why these items don’t seem to lose their youth-like appeal very quickly is because of all the salt and preservatives they contain. It can also be because hamburgers are relatively low in moisture after being cooked so it prevents mold from growing. But for some reason, the first explanation sounds more likely. So, next time you order your beloved Big Mac, think about how long it could sit on your desk without going bad, you just might want to reconsider!
1. The McDonald’s Chicken Head
Fast-food giants like McDonald’s have all suffered from the slings and arrows thrown by critics ridiculing the quality of their food at one point or another. Now, we’re not delusional, we know not to expect gourmet food when going to McDonald’s, but is it too much to ask to not include a deep-fried chicken head on our McWings? Well, apparently, an unfortunate customer was faced with the troubling answer: yes, it was too much to ask! The story of this woman has been told over and over but it still remains a little suspicious. It supposedly took place twenty years ago, and all we have are pictures and telltale signs. Then again, pictures of a breaded and deep-fried chicken head must not be too hard to find these days. This story could easily be an urban legend spread and magnified by the sensationalism encouraged on social media. The debate, however, still lingers online as some people chalked it up to what many today would call fake news. Skeptics have offered several arguments to justify just this, like how the alleged head seems too well-preserved to have gone through all the processing it has to go through before it actually reached the woman’s plate. Another good point is that it’s pretty unlikely that not a single McDonald’s employee noticed a chicken head being cooked and served. And, on top of everything else, McDonald’s never got the chance to examine the chicken head in question even though the customer threatened to sue. So, there’s a lot of fishy stuff surrounding this whole thing. Some stories are better left untold… And perhaps this one should be put to rest…So that we could still enjoy our nuggets without having nightmares!