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The Most Controversial Secrets About Fast Food, According to Employees

You're going to want to think twice before ordering some of these menu options.
fast food burger

We all have our favorite guilty pleasure fast-food spots and menu items we like to order at these chains. And there's certainly nothing wrong with splurging on a treat every once in a while. (After all, isn't that why In-N-Out exists?)

But there are certain menu items that employees say you should avoid and it's often for sanitary reasons. Fast-food workers went ahead and shared some secrets all about fast foods on Reddit. Here are the top fast-food secrets chain restaurants don't want you to know about. From the seriously unsanitary menu offerings to how to save some money on your order, we dug up some eye-opening truths. For more, be sure to check out these 15 Classic American Desserts That Deserve a Comeback.

1

You probably want to stay away from McDonald's' McCafe items.

Shutterstock

"I make sure everyone that matters to me never orders anything that comes out of the 'McCafe' machine as these are routinely neglected, in practically all the McDonalds," an employee wrote on Reddit.

The employee explained that staffers aren't properly trained in how to clean and maintain the McCafe machine and in many cases, they observed that the managers in charge of training them don't have the knowledge, either.

"All McCafe beverages run through a horrifically dirty machine—we're talking 5+ inches of uncleaned, liquid [garbage] making up its inside parts," the employee wrote. Hard pass!

2

Panera pasta isn't worth it.

panera tortellini alfredo pasta
Courtesy of Panera

A Panera Bread employee shared on Reddit that the sandwiches and salads are safe to order because they have "real ingredients and [are] usually fresh." (Phew!)

The menu item to avoid? The pasta.

"It's all microwaved, [and] this includes mac and cheese," they wrote. They also noted that Panera's cupcakes and coffee cakes all come frozen and aren't worth the cost, either. It's certainly not the worst fast-food revelation, but it's good to know what's worth our money and what's not.

3

You might want to skip the Quesarito at Chipotle.

chipotle workers assembling burritos
Shutterstock

Employees at Chipotle, including one who posted to Reddit, beg you not to order the Quesarito if it's busy.

"It backs up the line like no other," they explained. "If it's not busy, you're fine but PLEASE do not order a Quesarito during our peak hours. Employees will hate you. The people behind you in line will hate you. Everyone will hate you." Sounds pretty serious!

The employee clarified that there's nothing wrong with the Quesarito from a health or sanitation standpoint, but because not enough people order it, managers haven't rearranged and optimized the food line for efficient Quesarito production.

Looking for more helpful tips? Your ultimate restaurant and supermarket survival guide is here!

4

The Starbucks "Secret Menu" doesn't exist.

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"Please don't order anything off the 'Secret Menu,'" a former Starbucks employee implored on Reddit, and went on to explain that it doesn't actually exist.

"If you want a snickerdoodle, Nutella, or Captain Crunch frappuccino (or whatever other overly sugary thing someone has since come out with), know the base drink and the modifications, and order that," they advised.

The former employee shared that if you "just say the same name" of a drink that's supposedly on the secret menu, it's up to the barista to come up with what's in the drink. "It may not be what the last barista you ordered from put in there," they wrote.

5

Make sure to ask for "fresh" chicken nuggets at McDonald's.

McDonald's chicken nuggets in box
Shutterstock

If you order chicken nuggets at McDonald's, an employee provided an insider tip on Reddit: Be sure to specify that you're asking for "fresh" nuggets.

"Otherwise they've been just sitting in their container in the heat. They have a timer, but 9/10 times when that timer goes off, people just reset the timer instead of making new ones," the employee shared. "This could go on until all the nuggets are sold."

6

Stay away from the ice.

iced coffee
Shutterstock

Multiple fast-food employees have advised customers to avoid ice and lemons at all costs.

"Lemons and ice are by far the most disgusting things you can get," wrote one user who has worked at four restaurants.

Another fast-food employee shared that typically, restaurants don't clean out the ice machines. Yikes.

"It also depends on what they use to scoop the ice out of the machines. If you got people with dirty hands with a scoop scooping out ice you can imagine all the nasty particles that rub off on the ice etc," they continued. "Do that 4-5 times a day and you see the potential for nasty to accumulate." Double yikes.

7

Don't both with Pizza Hut's Three Cheese Stuffed Crust.

pizza hut cheese crust
Courtesy of Pizza Hut

A Pizza Hut employee advised Redditors not to order the three-cheese stuffed crust.

"The cheese in the crust is not better than the normal stuffed crust and you get much less of it. The normal stuffed crust pizza goes all the way around the crust, the 3 cheese leaves huge gaps where there is no cheese," they explained.

The employee added that with the $10 Tastemaker pizza deal, you can a few toppings on a regular stuffed crust pizza at no extra cost. "Try doing that with three cheese and you pay per topping," they shared.

8

Don't order anything with turkey at Dairy Queen.

dairy queen turkey blt
Courtesy of Dairy Queen

A Dairy Queen employee advised Redditors to stay away from anything with turkey on it, such as the Turkey BLT. "The turkey comes in these gross vacuum-sealed packages, and it gets a ~sheen~ to it rather quickly. Or dries out," they explained.

Either way, the employee noted that the turkey smells horrible and it only tastes good once it's buried under a mound of ranch and bacon.
"Just… don't eat it," they wrote. Duly noted.

9

Don't order the Specialty Pizza at Domino's.

dominos specialty pizza
Michael L./ Yelp

"NEVER order specialty pizzas from Domino's," an employee who has worked there for three years wrote on Reddit.

They explained that the $8 large three-topping pizza and the $6 medium two-topping pizza are always available. "Look at what is on the specialty pizza, put those exact toppings on, apply the deal, and boom, half price 'specialty' pizza," the employee shared.

10

Stay away from concession stand hot dogs.

Hot dog bun ketchup
Shutterstock

A Redditor who used to work at a baseball park's concession stand said the short answer is "don't order anything." But if you really need to get food at a concession stand, stay away from the hot dogs at all costs.

"They made it out of the package okay, and might even have been edible after we finished grilling them—and then they went into the water. We kept three pans of water at the back of the grill, that held the hot dogs," the employee wrote. "Any hot dogs left at the end of the day went back into the fridge, and came out again the next day. [Myself] and the other cook put our feet down on throwing out the water and old hot dogs after two full days, but the management didn't want to let us."

But wait, there's more!

On one occasion, the freezer broke, so all the meat was stored in an ice bin. What about health inspections, you ask? The employee says that management was always given a heads-up about a week before the health inspectors showed up, so they planned (and cleaned) accordingly. Scary!

Caitlin Flynn
Caitlin Flynn is an award-winning writer and reporter who experienced early age corporate burnout in 2015 and traded New York City for the misty air and superior coffee of Seattle. Read more