28 McDonald's Employees Shared Their Insider Secrets, And I Feel Like All Customers Should Be Aware
"The drive-thru speaker hears EVERYTHING."
All fast food restaurants have their secrets, and of course, McDonald's is no exception to the rule. We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community who have worked at McDonald's to give us some insider info, and the responses did not disappoint. We also found some interesting tidbits in a thread started by u/Yung_Mulann365 on Reddit. Here's all the tea that was spilled:
1. "Former employee here. I found out that when making five gallons of sweet tea, an entire four-pound bag of sugar goes into it. Sandwiches with a round egg use real, cracked eggs. Folded and scrambled eggs come from packaged goods in the freezer or fridge. I also once had a manager that insisted more people purchased the Filet-O-Fish when it was raining out because they subconsciously associated the watery weather with fish. Anyway, he did some research by looking through sales of Filet-O-Fish sandwiches for months and months and compared it to weather data for each day. He found something like a 3% increase on rainy days and was very pleased with himself."
2. "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."
3. "Management encouraged us to reset timers on cooked food so that the food was never fresh. We were also discouraged from using the word 'fresh' to avoid lying to customers. If you ever order a McChicken or a Filet-O-Fish and it’s soggy or floppy, it’s old. Always order food fresh."
4. "You should only eat McRibs right at the start of the promotion when the cooked ones are being sold fast enough. They just sit in the sauce pot for the better part of a day before they're taken off the menu again. I don't recommend ordering any chicken products at non-busy times except maybe nuggets. They don't do a good enough job of rotating in fresh ones. If they ever bring back grilled chicken, I don't recommend it ever. Again, they just don't sell enough that the employees keep fresh ones."
5. "Sauces for sandwiches have the wildest dispensers. Ketchup and mustard are in these really rudimentary plastic funnel things that have a paddle in the handle. When you squeeze it, gravity pushes just the right amount of sauce through holes. The Mac sauce, mayo, and tartar, though, are in caulk tubes that get loaded into caulk guns. You pull the trigger on the handle and a reeeeaally satisfying clanking delivers a powerfully saucy surprise for the awaiting buns."
"Problem is, it takes a bit of finesse because if you hit that trigger too hard, you'll blow the bun and the wad of sauce right through the condiment station and onto the wall eight feet away. No joke — the first couple tarter spurts from a fresh tube come out so hot, I always fire a shot or two into the trash to avoid premature 'splatulation' during the lunch rush."
6. "One time, someone accidentally replaced the chocolate syrup in the shake machine with barbecue sauce because the bottles are similar. They’re labeled differently, buuut it still happened. We found out because a few people complained that their chocolate shakes were sour. We remade them for a couple people, and they moved on, but one lady just wouldn’t let it go. My manager tasted the shake and was like WTF, then looked, and we saw the culprit. We had to clean the line after that, so we didn’t have chocolate shakes for a while."
7. "Some freaking kid climbed all the way to the top slide of the PlayPlace, took off his pants, and slid down the slide. Problem was, he shat the whooooole way down. There was a trail of poop spanning the entire second half of the slide. We only found out because some other kid slid down the same slide and came out covered in chunky-liquid shit crying uncontrollably."
8. "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."
9. "The pickles are surprisingly aerodynamic. They stick to walls and, if you have the stones, to managers' shirts pretty well."
10. "I worked at McDonald's for two years during high school. The majority of the time, I would work at the drive-thru window. Most customers don’t know, but once we place an order, drinks are automatically poured by a machine by the window where customers pick up their food order, so if a customer goes up to the first window where they pay and tries to add more food or drinks to their order, it messes up the flow of the drive-thru because the worker at the pick-up window has to wait for the added drink to be poured by the machine."
11. "I don’t know if they still do this, but I remember McDonald's managers would regularly monitor hourly labor cost, so if there were many consecutive hours where the McDonald’s store wasn’t making a certain amount of money in sales, they would either send people home early from their shift, or call and notify a crew member that they were no longer needed to show up to their shift. The majority of the time, they would select crew members who were scheduled for small shifts."
12. "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!"
13. "If you dip your fries in a side of tartar sauce, they taste like dill pickle potato chips."
14. "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 simply 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 Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, grilled chicken, and Quarter Pounders, as they sit out a lot longer than you’d think."
15. "I worked at one of the busiest McDonald's in the world. A lot of the food was prepped way ahead of time (like the nuggets) because we were always going through it quickly enough for it to be considered fresh. During non-peak season, the manager would still have this mindset, so poor tourists coming in late on a Tuesday for dinner after their day at the theme park would get nuggets and burgers that were three to four hours old. The burgers were kept mostly plain on purpose. When people would order, she would have us unwrap them, add what was needed, and serve them. Major ICK. I refused to do it one night and quit on the spot. Nasty dried out meat and rock hard nuggets — no thanks. And yes, the people always complained that it tasted gross and asked us to remake things all the time."
16. "Working at McDonald's was my first and only job in fast food. When working the grill, it was so hot and miserable, I would drip sweat right onto the meat — I couldn't help it. When I worked at the station that dressed the buns, I would have to reach into huge tubs of pickles with my bare hands. I wasn't required to wash my hands before or after doing this. When I worked the fry station, we were taught how to manipulate the red box for the large fries so it looked like it contained more fries than it actually did. I worked there SO long ago that we made the shakes — they weren't 'ready-serve.' We would squeeze the paper cups so more air would enter the shake faster, thus 'fluffing up' the shake faster."
"Also, I'm so old that when I worked there, everything was manual. We had to add up the orders manually. Who knows how many addition errors I made in the rush to get a customer served. Oh, last but not least, the fish filet sandwich only got HALF a slice of cheese — HALF!!!"
17. "I worked at McDonald's in high school. I found out that if you put the middle of a Mac bun in the fryer and then add soft serve and strawberry topping, it tastes just like a funnel cake. Custom creations were the best part of working there."
18. "When someone orders extra dipping sauce, you either push the 'extra sauce' button and the sauce they want, or just push the normal sauce button. When I worked the drive-thru, if a customer was polite and wanted extra sauce, I would just enter what sauce they wanted and 'forget' to charge it. If someone was rude, you bet I wouldn't hesitate to charge for extra sauce!"
19. "McRibs are the messiest sandwich we had to make. In addition to cooking it, the McRibs stew in their sauce in the universal heating cabinet (UHC) until used. They required a special pair of tongs because there can't be cross-contamination with the pork and other items. No matter how careful you were, you always made a mess."
20. "A McDouble and a Big Mac have the same amount of beef in them. The difference between them is the Big Mac uses Mac sauce instead of ketchup and mustard, and it has the middle bun, sesame seeds, and lettuce. The difference between a Double Cheeseburger and a McDouble is one slice of cheese."
21. "When the pre-made toppings or grilled beef expired, they would just change the time sticker and leave it sitting there for longer. So you'd sometimes get beef that was, like, two hours old."
22. "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."
23. "Sometimes the unsweetened tea doesn't get changed because not a lot of people order it. I remember making a cup for someone and smelling a weird smell. I opened the top of the dispenser, and there was mold floating on top. I was disgusted."
24. "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."
25. "I have permanent burn scars on my forearms from the french fry grease during the very short time I worked there. Once, we were super short-staffed, and I had to close, then turn around and open the next day. I only lasted a week. I have mad respect for fast-food workers — most of y’all are awesome."
26. "The sauce guns could shoot pretty far, and yes, we did, at times, fire them down someone’s pants. The small onions on cheeseburgers are freeze-dried and have to soak in water for a day to become edible. The large onions that go in Quarter Pounders are bought chopped. Everything is bought pre-chopped except tomatoes. The Coke, Fanta, and Sprite arrive as syrup in boxes and are mixed with soda water on site."
27. "When my friend and I are working the speaker and the payment window, we always try to make each other laugh really hard when the other is taking orders so that it takes longer to take the order, and the people making the food have enough time to make it before the customer gets to the window."
28. Finally: "If you are rude in any way when you order a brewed coffee, you will most likely end up with decaf."
Have you ever worked in food service? What are some insider secrets, stories, or hacks you've accumulated? Tell us in the comments!
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.