36 Wild And Disturbing Secrets From The Kitchens Of Your Favorite Fast-Food Chains

    I'll never look at fries the same way.

    We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community who have worked in fast food to share some of their behind-the-scenes secrets that customers may not know. Here are the shocking (and, in many cases, nauseating) results:

    Disclaimer: These stories come from people supposedly speaking from personal experience. The stories have not been vetted by BuzzFeed.

    1. "I worked for a sandwich company (you know the one). I had one nasty lady come in every day at lunch with her friends and treat me like garbage. She always ordered the veggie sandwich. One day, the green peppers came in riddled with dead worms. They were huge and half-frozen. I set the box by the garbage. When the lady came in, I told her we were out of green peppers. She said I was lying and ordered me to 'go in the back and find some.' Again, I told her we didn't have any. She yelled at me, saying I was stupid and that's why I was stuck in this 'career.' She insisted she would have me fired if I didn't find any green peppers for her sandwich. So, I did. I went in the back and cut up several rotten peppers with a lot of dead worms in them."

    "When I gave it to her, she sneered at me and said, 'See, that wasn't so hard, was it?' It really wasn't. After she ate the sandwich, she said it was the best one I ever made for her. I quit soon after. Just remember that the people you treat like garbage are the ones making your food. You really have to be stupid to talk rudely to a fast-food worker."

    2. "I work at McDonald's, and if you order fries with no salt, we hate you. We need to make them fresh, but that's not the problem. The problem is they can't touch the fry receptacle and we have to pour SCORCHING HOT, BOILING OIL–COVERED FRIES directly into the fry box. I have burn scars. We all have burn scars. And don't get me started on people that order a small. It's PAPER. You're killing us."

    "I have burn scars. We all have burn scars" over fries

    3. "At McDonald’s, we had big things of tea that would need refilling frequently. They were up on a shelf kind of high, so you had to get on your tiptoes to look in. One girl would STICK HER HAND IN to see how full they were. She'd say, 'We wash our hands all the time!' Still, NOT OK! The scum under fingernails getting loose in that liquid…gross! It was only one girl that did this, but that was enough to make me never drink tea again!"


    4. "I worked at Tim Hortons. I'm sure it's not much of a surprise, but almost everything comes in frozen — the steak, chicken, bread, donuts, the soups, you name it. At the end of the day, they strained each of the soups and threw the solid bits in the trash. I love soup and eat it multiple times a week, but there is something so foul about the smell of several soups and chili all mixed together."

    "gags" over george costanza covering his mouth

    5. "I used to work at Panera, and it shocks people that other than the meats, veggies, and salad dressings, everything comes in frozen. The pasta, soup, and the dough for bread, bagels, and pastries are all frozen. The pasta gets microwaved, the breads and pastries are defrosted, baked, and decorated, and the soup gets tossed into what is essentially a hot water bath. I always tell people that if you’re going to get soup at Panera, your safest choices are the chicken noodle, tomato, and broccoli cheddar because they sell the most and get replaced the most often, and are therefore the 'freshest.' At the end of the day, the other soups get re-bagged and put in the cooler overnight and then get set out again the next morning. I remember watching the New England clam chowder go from white to brown because it got cooled and reheated so many times over a few days."


    6. "Just don’t eat at Subway. There is zero quality control. I worked with a lady who would mix the tuna salad with her bare hands and her wedding ring on. One day after mixing, she took off her ring to wash her hands and there was an open sore on her finger there. She said moisture would get trapped under the ring. Nasty!! The meatballs also bounce like super balls prior to being cooked."

    "I worked with a lady who would mix the tuna salad with her bare hands" over a tuna salad sub

    7. "I work at Burger King, and I think it is quite bad that the plant-based Whopper patties are cooked in the same broiler as the meat patties. They get meat juices on them and end up not really being plant-based. Also, sometimes the ice dispenser has green algae on it."


    8. "At the drive-thru, the speaker box hears everything from when you pull up until after you drive off. If you talk crap about us, we hear it. If you are arguing with your other passengers or on the phone, we hear it."

    "oop" over shocked chidi anagonye

    9. "I used to work at Pizza Hut, and all of their doughs are just frozen disks that we spray a shitload of oil onto. The pan crust is literally full of grease, which has like three or four big pumps of vegetable oil, plus it's sprayed with oil. All the food is frozen, and the only thing that is fresh are the veggies on the pizza. They also reuse old dough instead of throwing it out at night like they are supposed to, and the pizza sauce, Alfredo, and breadstick sauce all are from a bag that they pour into a bucket and mix with water. The thing is, I still eat Pizza Hut because, hell, it's good."


    10. "When I worked at McDonald's, the orange juice machine was only cleaned when an employee would have some and say, 'This tastes like mold.' I was usually the lucky one."

    "this tastes like mold" over a cup of orange juice

    11. "Taco Bell cinnamon twists are just fusilli thrown into the deep fryer and then coated with cinnamon sugar. Don’t drink the tea unless you see them make a fresh batch or it’s early in the day; otherwise, you’re drinking tea that’s been sitting out all day, and it tends to get a film on top when it sits too long. The beef isn’t horse meat or whatever the rumor always is, but it is about 20% filler (we were told filler consisted of things like finely ground oats and spices), and the percentage that is meat is not high quality, obviously. The beans are dehydrated or freeze-dried, then rehydrated with scalding water and left to sit in the heating cabinet for 30 minutes until they’re considered 'ready to serve.' Other than that, nothing super shocking about Taco Bell, but I also haven’t worked there in 10 years, so."


    12. "At Denny’s, their syrup dispenser was never cleaned or rotated with another dispenser in the three years that I worked there. The manager would also heat up plastic bottles of the syrup in the microwave before pouring it into the dispenser. He expected me to do this as well, to speed up the time it took to refill the dispenser. Also, no one ever properly cleaned the milkshake blenders. They just got left in the sink with water and rinsed out when you had to make a new one."

    disgusted alexis rose with the text "Ew"

    13. "Whenever you get food from Subway, none of the spinach or lettuce is cleaned. It goes straight from the bag to the bin."


    14. "The ice machine in every kitchen I've ever worked in is disgusting. They're nearly impossible to clean, requiring a lot of time and disassembly to actually clean them properly...not to mention that people tend to forget the need for hygiene when it comes to ice. I'm talking leaving the ice scoop on the floor, not washing their hands, loose hairs floating around there, etc. If it wasn't already dirty because the machine never gets cleaned properly, it's dirty because folks are nasty around the ice. The same goes for every beverage dispenser, mixer, ice cream machine, etc."

    "folks are nasty around the ice" over an ice machine

    15. "The fried chicken restaurant I used to work at had a mouse infestation. I once watched a manager sweep a dead mouse under one of the counters, rather than pick it up."


    16. "I work at Wawa. Good news: If something is made fresh (hoagies, salads, coffee), it IS pretty damn fresh. Bakery and salad bar supplies come every night. The sandwich supplies are regularly checked and replaced. Bad news: Everything that's scooped (mac 'n' cheese, mashed potatoes, meatballs, soup, etc.) comes frozen and is tossed into the thermalizer. For most things, you can tell if the bag is broken. For certain things, like some soups or the stuffing, it's hard to tell immediately if it's broken, and those thermalizers are NOT regularly cleaned. I am guilty of throwing a gross broccoli cheddar in accidentally and just leaving it."

    "welp" over eleanor shellstrop

    17. "When you eat at a Sonic, leave a tip if you can. Those workers have been serving food all day ON SKATES! Those things don’t come off. You serve food in them, make ice cream treats/drinks in them, and push a mop/broom in them. At the end of the day, there’s tater tots stuck in the wheels. That shit was hard! It was rare that I got a tip, but when I did, I was so appreciative!"


    18. "I'm a former Del Taco worker from 2009–12. The only 'fresh' items on that entire menu are the beans, cheese, salsa, chips, and salad shells. Be careful with the beans — you don't know whose sweat you are consuming! We mash the beans with a utensil, but I know my sweat would drop in the beans. Everything else is frozen and bagged. All of the hot meat is frozen, bagged, and heated in water (except the burgers aren't heated in water). With the soda machine, before you drink out of it, put your finger inside the nozzle. If you pull out black gunk, that's mold. My store would forget to clean the nozzles for weeks until a customer would say something."

    "You might be getting blood, finger nails, or Bandaids mixed with them" over chopped tomatoes

    19. "One of my first jobs was at a Wendy’s. I was horrified to find out that all the old, overcooked, and stale burger patties got chopped up and added to the chili. It’s just a never-ending chili that way. When there’s too much beef, they just add the mix, and vice-versa. Haven’t had chili at any restaurant since."


    20. "I worked at Wendy’s and McDonald’s. If you want the fastest service, especially during rush hour, go to the drive-thru. Since they time us on how long cars wait, we always prioritize the drive-thru."

    "interesting" over kenan thompson

    21. "Yesterday's baked potatoes are today's perfect hash browns. Ribs don’t take 20 minutes. So, the fancy ribs you ordered were precooked, frozen, and rewarmed to be served 'fresh' on your plate. Dressings are basically fat and sugar. 'Olive oil' is usually just cheaper canola."


    22. "Not a fast-food place, but the Walmart deli. We would have inspectors come through from time to time to ensure cleanliness in the food areas. They went to where we cooked the hot food and pushed the oven aside (it was on wheels, like a giant Easy Bake Oven), and the entire area behind it was covered in mold. They just pushed the oven back into place and acted like they didn't see it. We passed inspection with no issues."

    "the entire area behind it was covered in mold" over a kitchen

    23. "I worked at Subway for years at different stores part time during college. They make their bread at 11:00 a.m. and then at 5:00 p.m. So, if you come in the morning, you're getting leftover bread that we just popped in the oven again to soften. Also, the jalapeño peppers they order are all stems to save money! Stems are inedible."


    24. "Everything at Starbucks comes frozen. And wild animals won’t eat the sausage on the sandwiches. We left a patty outside for six months once. Untouched, no deterioration."

    "oh god" over david rose

    25. "Order your burgers at Burger King 'OB,' or off the broiler. It takes a little longer, but tastes way better. The burger is barbecue fresh, and the bun is still toasty. A regular, mediocre burger at BK has been sitting in a steamer for 30 minutes, then nuked for a minute to reheat."


    26. "At one of my first jobs (at a fast-food chain), my boss and I went to the storage garage to get a big box of mayonnaise. There was a small hole in the box, and when we opened it, a rat had eaten to the middle of the mayonnaise and died. Gross enough, but then my boss scraped out the rat and the mayo around it, then took the rest, and served it. I didn’t eat there for months."

    "my boss scraped out the rat and the mayo around it, then took the rest and served it" over a bowl of mayo

    27. "I use to work for Golden Corral and was shocked to learn that their mac 'n' cheese was actually Stouffer's. But the real secret: Despite how clean the restaurant was, there was always rotten steak and chicken behind the counter in the kitchen where we prepared your food, because it was so hard to clean underneath."


    28. "I worked at a small bakery. Being sanitary and clean is just for show. In front of customers, we would use paper and gloves to pick up food, but then we would use our bare hands to touch pastries when customers weren’t around. The same vacuum piece we used to clean the floor was also used to clean the pastry cases. We would literally spray bleach in the cases to clean them with desserts and pastries still inside."

    "bleach???" over stunned sofia vergara

    29. "The kitchen has roaches. All of them, every restaurant. The joys of buying from food service warehouses... The four seasons of kitchen pest management are need to call the bug man, the bug man is coming, the bug man is here, and the bug man just left. Rinse and repeat. Forever. As long is it's kept in check (there's evidence of insects noted), it'll pass inspection. If it reaches a full-on infestation, it's a fail."


    30. "After 43 years in food service, my advice is to cook your own food. I've worked in places that never change out their deep fry oil — just filter it and add more. I've seen food dropped on the floor and served anyway. I've witnessed cooks maliciously tainting food on purpose. Old, outdated, sometimes moldy food has been prepared and served. I've seen waiters blow snot out of their nose into a salad and serve it. Some sauce containers are never washed. New sauce is just poured in and mixed with the crusty bits accumulated in the container. I've seen old, moldy, dried-up cheese put on pizza, and teenage workers spit on pizzas. Some burgers get made with bad meat. Everything you can think of that would disgust you happens every single day, and you eat the food."

    "Everything you can think of that would disgust you happens every single day, and you eat the food" over a restaurant kitchen

    31. "I worked in a pizza chain where the manager would make his own bread. We used them for garlic rolls as well as subs. While making garlic rolls, I noticed mold on them and proceeded to throw them into the trash. The owner decided to take the rolls out and told me to scrape off the mold and freeze them. The customers would never know. All of the vegetables were prepped and frozen, then defrosted in the dirty sinks for subs and pizza. He would make us remove all the bags and store them in a coworker's freezer if the health department came because they were stored in grocery bags."

    "We would 'freshly' slice potatoes for fries, and even if they were rotten, he would make us slice them for customers and wash off the smelly gunk. Dressings would go bad, and he would tell us to mix them with a new bottle so no one would know. There's a lot that goes on behind those doors. I left. I couldn't stomach serving people rotten food."


    32. "I worked at a Burger King for eight years. Whenever the store is getting ready in the morning (before the doors open), none of the food safety rules apply. No gloves, no hand-washing, nothing."

    33. "My daughter worked at a famous fast-food drive-in chain and said she was cleaning out the ice cream machine and found a rat at the bottom."


    34. "I worked at a Canadian coffee shop, and if something's dropped on the floor, it's served 80% of the time. Also, everything is frozen, and how old it is is always fudged. Donuts need to be thrown out after eight hours...that didn't happen often."

    35. "When I worked at a Wendy's in Colorado, the hamburger patties arrived pre-formed and fresh (not frozen), but on more than one occasion, the packages arrived well beyond their expiration date. The policy was to just make sure the patties were well cooked to kill off any bacteria."


    36. Finally: "I worked for McDonald’s for a few years in college, and the biggest takeaway is those damn food timers. Corporate has them set up for each different food to go off at various times when the food has essentially been sitting too long and needs to be remade. When the timers would go off, they would simple restart them without even considering remaking the food. This goes for EVERYTHING — pies, fries, burgers, nuggets, fish, etc. Literally everything has the potential to be sitting there from open to close, depending on the demand. This is important to remember when ordering fish filets, grilled chicken, and quarter-pound burgers, as they sit out a lot longer than you’d think."

    "gross" over jake peralta

    Ohhh boy. Have you ever worked in the restaurant biz? What was your experience like? Are there any behind-the-scenes secrets you want to share? Comment below!

    Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.