From the opening of the first McDonald's restaurant in 1955 to frozen White Castle sliders, you can buy in stores, fast food of all kinds has been a staple of American dining for decades. The fast food market has evolved parallel to the diets and mindsets of the people as time has progressed, and the people have slowly become more and more aware of the things they're ingesting on a regular basis. That said, it's no doubt that the quality of some of the products these companies serve--new and old--have been questioned by consumers for nearly as long as the industry has been around. If you've ever wondered what you should never order off your favorite fast food chain's menu, look no further. Fast-food restaurant employees broke their silence and discussed some of the menu items fast food companies serve that people should stay away from at all costs.
But we must warn you; this may ruin some of your favorite dishes, and therefore, in some small way, your life.
Don't forget to check the comment section below the article for more interesting stories!
#38 Chipping Away At Your Health
When I worked at 7-11 years ago, one of the things we got was a nachos machine, which had a big glass bin full of chips and two heated cookers with spigots on the bottom, one for chili and one for cheese. It was pretty popular. I don't know if there was supposed to be some cleaning schedule, but we never had one. Cleaning it meant emptying the cookers, which wasted food (the boss said).
In any case, the cheese one wasn't so bad. When it was low we just dumped in another tub of cheese. Some oily separation, but it seemed ok. The chili, on the other hand, tended to mold, which crept up the insides of the cooker. When it got low, we'd scoop the mold off the top and wipe the inside a bit, then just dump another batch of new chili in on top of the old. If I weren't young and stupid about things then, I'd probably have said something, but all I did was avoid the stuff myself.
#37 Cleaning And Degreasing Poorly
Burger King made me clean the fryer hoods with a spray bottle and paper towels while the fryers were on and in use. I could hear the degreaser sizzling as it hit the grease. I’m surprised people didn’t get sick.
#36 Pulled Pork? More Like Pulled The Plug
Worked at Pizza Hut (both delivery and restaurant) and honestly, everything is pretty alright. But we are having a North Carolina pizza right now (which is fairly popular) and man that pulled pork smells like cat food and that drizzle is the most confusing taste ever (imagine cane sugar, honey, mustard, cayenne pepper, turmeric, and 30 grams of sugar and BBQ base).
#35 The Flaky (Literally) Manager Of Panera Bread
Don’t get any of the asiago cheese or cinnamon sugar bagels from the Gunbarrel Road Panera Bread in Chattanooga, Tennessee. They may contain skin flakes from the bakery manager’s leg. I personally witnessed her pinching the wet dough without gloves, scratch a rash on her leg, and go right back to pinching the bagels.
Also standing water, roaches, and ethical dubiousness.
Actually, I’d be shocked if she wasn’t fired years ago and it’s probably all fine now... but better safe than sorry.
#34 Wait, Do You Mean Literally?
#33 Get Nuked
I worked at McDonald’s. Don’t get breakfast after lunch starts up. It sucks for the employees, but also, if we can, we are just gonna microwave your food. Biscuits, griddles, muffins, folded eggs. It’s all gonna get nuked. Especially if we are really busy.
#32 The Chicken Comes Before The Egg... Especially At Chick-Fil-A
I worked at a Chick-Fil-A and everything there is usually great quality. However, I would not recommend getting an egg on a salad. That is legitimately the grossest egg I’ve ever eaten.
On a more positive note, not a lot of people get strips which are in my opinion the best-tasting chicken.
P.S. get a Chick-fil-A sandwich with American cheese and replace the filet with strips. Trust me.
#31 Say 'No Cheese.'
Arby's already has a bad rep (I actually like it well enough) but under no circumstances should you get a Beef 'n' Cheddar. Make them put a cheddar slice on it like civilized people.
I'll just say this: Cleaning out the cheese goop pump when closing was enough to prepare me for working with human stool, sputum, and blood lab specimens without blinking years later.
#30 Not All Heroes Wear Capes
I have a personal vendetta against animal fries from In-N-Out. Not that they’re bad or the ingredients aren’t fresh, but they’re such a rip off you could literally get a cheese fry and ask for a side of the spread and grilled onions and put it in yourself for half the price! Animal fries are almost the same price as a double-double, like what the heck? Anyways, thanks for coming to my TED Talk.
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#29 A Balanced Diet For The Youngins
#28 86 Chicken Fries
Been a decade since I worked there, but don't get chicken fries at Burger King.
When I was 14, I worked at McDonald's. Please don't order the fish sandwich.
#26 If You Don't Know, Google It
It's pretty well known how Wendy's chili is made and although I know it's healthy and fine and possibly even tasty, after having to prepare the meat hundreds of times, there is no way it's ever going in my mouth.
#25 Deep Fried Travesties Are Delicious Travesties
Panda Express. The Beijing beef, sweet fire chicken, and orange chicken is just deep-fried meat absolutely covered in melted sugar. The Honey Walnut Shrimp is deep fried shrimp covered in yellow dyed mayonnaise. And the egg rolls are probably the most disgusting abominations to Chinese food ever invented. Basically, if you go to Panda Express, get something that isn't a deep fried travesty. The Black Pepper chicken, Mushroom chicken, and Kung Pao chicken are the best and are fun for the cooks to make.
#24 Sometimes The Sweetest Tea Is The Unsweetened Kind
Sweet tea. I worked at McDonald's for a couple years and once they ran out of clean bags for the sweet tea so they kept rinsing out the old one but it had so many creases you couldn't really get it clean. They kept using it and using it and stuff started growing in it. Disgusting.
#23 I Guess That's Why The Word 'Express' Is In The Name
Well, I would never order anything from Panda Express anymore because I got sick of all the food, but if they still have Mandarin Chicken on the menu it's literally just chicken that comes in a bag and gets microwaved for five minutes before getting dumped into the serving dish.
#22 Chicken Donut?
I pass by a gas station that has a fast food franchise called "Krispy Krunchy Chicken." The answer is to literally not get anything from there.
#21 Too Soft To Serve
I worked at McDonalds’s for five years. Never order the milkshakes! The machine often breaks and when it does the milk base stays inside until it is fixed, usually causing it to go bad. The machine is kind of cleaned, but never as good as it should be. Every time there is a limited-time shake (i.e. Shamrock, or eggnog) the syrup pipes get all gunked up and the only way to fix that is to shove something in the pipe like a broken fork or chopstick to dislodge the gunk.
#20 'Excuse Me, The McScreen Has McBugs In It.'
Smoothies/blended drinks from Mcdonald's. When I worked there I saw some bugs crawling on the inside of the screen on the machine. I asked a manager about it and he said that they're so hard to take apart that they almost never get cleaned internally.
#19 Nothing Magical About The Steam Wand
Starbucks ex-employee checking in. Honestly, everything is pretty safe there except for the skinny mocha. I worked at a store for four years before we realized we weren’t cleaning the pump properly, and that thing was naaaaasty. Clumps of foul-smelling chocolate, fuzzy green bits, all around no bueno.
Oh, and the steam wands for all your beloved sugary lattes. Corporate cares more about not damaging the machines than cleaning them properly, which means that every time you ask for your drink “extra, extra hot, like 220 degrees like the OTHER Starbucks always does why can’t you,” you’re adding another layer of scalded milk to the inside of that steam wand. I absolutely will not order hot drinks anymore because I would cover at other stores and see just how gross those wands were. They nasty, y’all.
And as always, the dang ice machines. Although most of the stores I worked in were pretty good about cleaning them because employees get loads of iced drinks.
#18 Emphasis On The Word 'Sold'
Back when Taco Bell sold limeades, we actually used whole limes and cut them up when we needed them. Kept a case of them in the walk-in cooler. I went to grab some to prep for the day and almost all of them were moldy. I told the manager about it and she told me to cut them anyway. I refused and threw the case out. In other words, any kind of fruit item should be examined thoroughly before consumption. If they ever brought limeades back, I would never drink one.
#17 Would You Like Some Paper With Your Soup?
Everyone's talking about Subway tuna, but I'm talking about that Subway meatball marinara.
Not only is it a pain-in-the-butt sandwich to make, but it's also disgusting. Not enough people order it so although you're supposed to throw it out every few hours, it's held basically all day. The new batch of meatballs is poured on top of it and just mixed up so the dried out old parts are spread throughout. If it gets too dark or crunchy from being held at temp for too long, water is added and mixed in.
Also, don't ask for extra sauce and then get mad when it soaks through the bread and you have soup wrapped in paper.
#16 Food That's Fast To Cook On Machines That Are Too Hard To Clean
I work at a Panera Bread, and the food we make is all generally pretty fresh. We get fresh produce delivered once a day and our truck comes twice a week to deliver the things we heat up from frozen like the macaroni and cheese and our soups.
The one thing I wouldn't suggest buying is anything with our espresso drinks, especially if you have an allergy. In our store, we only have one machine that doesn't get cleaned enough and we just rinse out the one container we use to steam both almond and regular milk. We aren't really known for our amazing lattes, so half the time, no one knows how to actually make them.
#15 Chill On The Chili Dogs
I’ve worked at a Sonic Drive-In for almost two years now and in that time I have made more chili dogs than a man could count before dying of old age. Yet despite those numbers, I still cannot stand what that chili does to every one of my senses.
#14 Is Bacon Not Bacon?
Anything with bacon at McDonald's. They cook it, then it sits and gets cold for close to two hours. You don't notice because the burger and veggies on their make it hard to determine what's hot or not.
#13 Baked Fresh... From Frozen
Worked at a well-known donut, coffee, and ice cream place.
The donuts come in frozen, are thawed, are frosted using reused tubs of microwaved frosting, and the overnight bakers make one batch for the whole day. And at my particular location, they didn't use gloves ever. Bare-handed everything.
So, no, if you come at night your donuts have been sitting out since 4 a.m. and are not "baked fresh."
#12 The Microwave: A True Tool Of The Fast Food Trade
#11 More Steak? More Like Floor Steak
I've worked at Pizza Hut, Freebirds, and Applebee's. I would eat anything from Pizza Hut, everything at Freebirds was amazing, and I wouldn't even step foot inside another Applebee's. I worked at an Applebee's I frequented A LOT during high school and during my first training session to be a server, the cook threw a plate with a porterhouse steak on that eye-level counter and the steak slid right off the plate and onto the dirty, disgusting floor. The trainer picked up the steak, inspected it, dusted it off and put it back on the plate saying something along the lines of "this is an expensive freaking cut of meat" like he was personally paying for it. I was stunned. I quit that night and never even thought of going into another one ever again.
#10 'It's Green Because It Makes Us Money, Duh.'
I once worked at a Whataburger in Texas. Great food, burgers are all fresh, I would get anything on the menu, even the salads. Except for the grilled chicken.
Now they have since changed their grilled chicken so I don't know if its the same anymore, but back then it came out of the freezer green (likely from the seasoning but really looked off-putting), slapped on the grill and doused in bun oil. It was basically deep fried in liquid butter.
And one time we were cleaning out the milkshake machine, there's a piece where the milkshake goes through at the top, when it was removed from cleaning, there was the shell of a huge cockroach in it meaning the rest of the cockroach disintegrated as the milkshake moved through that tube.
But I try to block it out because dang their shakes and malts are good.
#9 Regal Cinemas Pretzels? Far From Regal
Regal Cinemas pretzels.
They gave us this huge pretzel steamer to cook the pretzels in and keep them moist. The issue is, say you cook four and nobody buys them. So the pretzels are "spoiled" out and at $8 come off the bottom line of your weekly inventory. As you can guess, if your spoil numbers are too high, then prepare to have to explain it to corporate.
Nine times out of ten, we just microwaved them on demand. So don't order a microwaved pretzel.
#8 'Just Don't'
If you go to Sonic, don't order the cheesecake bites or the hotdogs. Just don't.
#7 Buttered Toast Over Slaw Anyday
Raising Cane's. I wouldn't recommend the slaw. You can trade it for more toast. While you're at it, get it buttered on both sides! Also, I think the honey mustard is better than the cane sauce. The lemonade is just lemons, water, and cane sugar. It's pretty good, they juice the lemons there.
#6 Extra Seasoning Might Make It Special Alright, But Doesn't Make It A 'Special'
I worked a Popeye's Chicken for a year, and I can say that you should definitely avoid any chicken offered on the manager's special.
My boss found two large steam trays filled with thighs stuffed in the back of the fridge. By all accounts, that chicken was bad. I gagged when I opened the lid. Boss literally had them double season the chicken thighs and ran a special, basically selling the thighs at cost.
#5 Just When You Thought Sheetz Could Do No Wrong
Not a worker, just a consumer with repeated issues from the same thing.
Sheetz. Anything with eggs. They are consistently undercooked at every Sheetz I've eaten them at.
#4 Missed The Hype Train On The McRib
When I worked at McDonald's years ago, I would not recommend the McRib. Nothing about that is rib meat.
I used to work at Cinnabon in the mall when I was in high school.
Leftover dough expired? Ten-gallon bucket of old frosting pulled from the back of the walk-in from god knows when? All good! Mix it up with new inventory! Once baked, no one will ever know the difference anyway!
#2 Freeze The Cheese
When I worked at Chick-Fil-A, I got probably way too involved in the knitty gritty of the kitchen and inventory but that's probably just inevitable. Well, I learned their soups and "cheese sauce" are bagged and frozen and the bags are placed in hot water to serve. I would probably be okay with the soups, but I'll never do the "cheese sauce," whatever it actually is. And you know what, the lemonade has just too darn much sugar so I'll stay away from that too. Like a startling amount.
#1 Some Slime For Your Turkey?
Anything that has turkey in it from Jimmy Johns. The weird pink slime/gel that coats the thing in the bag makes me want to vomit.