Skip To Content
  • Viral badge

Employees At McDonald's, Starbucks, Subway, And More Are Spilling The Tea On What Really Goes On Behind Closed Doors, And All I Can Say Is "Wow"

These are fascinating.

Have you ever wondered what really goes on behind closed doors at your favorite chains, restaurants, and stores? Well, I scoured Reddit for some of the best insider employee secrets — and I also learned a ton directly from the BuzzFeed Community. Here are some industry secrets that will fascinate, disgust, and delight you.

1. "I used to work in the jewelry business, and people don't realize that most of the prettiest gemstones are actually very affordable. Tanzanite is a beautiful purple and looks nicer than amethyst. Topaz comes in lots of colors, including a pretty blue color which can be as nice as aquamarine. Diamonds are lovely, but price-wise you can get a nicer Moissanite, and personally I would go with the latter."

A jeweler installing loose cut moissanite.
Getty Images

2. "Starbucks supervisor here. There is no secret menu, and we're not trained to make those viral TikTok drinks. Some of the more common ones, like a Cotton Candy Frap, the baristas might know, but don't bank on it. If you want us to make something 'off-menu,' have the recipe handy. As a side note, many of those drinks also rely on seasonal ingredients, so you should have a backup choice ready."

A frozen Starbucks drink.
Getty Images

3. "I worked at NASA as a contractor for 2 years. 90% of the computing hardware was very antiquated and out-of-date. I saw a lot of Dell computers from the mid 2000s still being used. NASA is pretty underfunded and they spend most of their money on more advanced hardware like supercomputers, large servers, etc. But the basic hardware is really out of date."

NASA building at Kennedy Space Center.
Getty Images

4. "I worked at McDonald's, and depending on which location you work at, the parking lot is basically a meet-up for druggies, dealers, and people to meet up and have sex in their cars. As long as they kept their business to the middle of the night and didn't cause any serious problems, we were told not to call the cops or make a fuss, mostly because they'd come in and buy food after their shenanigans. Soda and mini pies were really popular. I later found out that corporate told management to let this all slide because the 'night crowd' brings in a lot of money."

A car in a McDonald's parking lot at night.
Getty Images

5. "I'm a chef in a French restaurant, and I can tell you the secret to why the food tastes so good is butter. The only thing dairy free is the salad...and drinks, of course."

People eating breakfast at a table.
Getty Images

6. "I worked for a popular company known for its scented candles, lotions, etc — and I can tell you that scents are constantly being recycled and rebranded. There are so many fragrances that are repackaged and called something different. Fragrance oil is the most expensive part of any shower gel or foaming soaps, and the company has these oils in warehouses all over the US. They never scrap these oils, they just rebrand them as something else."

Close up shot of a woman holding a lotion bottle.
Getty Images

7. "I'm an Olive Garden Employee. Anything labeled as 'endless' is truly endless so some people stuff themselves until they are literally sick. All the employees hated the never-ending pasta bowl promotion because people would literally throw up at the table and keep eating."

Spaghetti and meatballs.
Getty Images

8. "Come to the Walmart deli after 7 or 8 p.m. We mark everything down before closing. You're welcome."

A shopper in Walmart Deli.
Getty Images

9. "Amusement park ride operator here. If your kid is crying and you want us to stop the ride, we can't stop it immediately. The carousel will spin a few more circles or the ship will swing a few more times. The only exception is the emergency stop which will absolutely mess up the ride for a while if we press it (which is why we only use it in actual life-threatening situations). The best thing to do is try to calm down your child and stop yelling at us while the ride comes to a stop. We can't do it any faster."

A carnival ride
Getty Images

10. "At Goodwill, we don't clean anything that we sell...and we get some really gross stuff. Next time you buy something from Goodwill, wash it well."

Bags of clothing.
Getty Images

11. "I work on a farm, and let me tell you: When they say you should wash your produce thoroughly at home before eating or cooking it, they're not joking."

Organic vegetables in the produce aisle of a supermarket
Getty Images

12. "I'm an accountant, and I can tell you that if you have your personal tax return done via a form, it really means someone straight out of college is entering your tax info into a software program you can buy at home for a quarter of the price. Most accountants use TurboTax or Quickbooks to do their own taxes."

Overhead View of Hand Filling Up Tax Form and Using Calculator and Laptop
Getty Images

13. "Retired funeral home worker here. The markup price for funerals is astounding and not based on materials costs. It takes state licensing requirements into account, but even then the math seriously doesn't add up. For example, the solutions used for embalming are no more than $10, and that's pushing it. Back when I worked at a funeral home in the late 2000s they charged $250-plus. Dressing, casketing, restoration, and cosmetics were all additional costs."

A cemetery with wildflowers.
Getty Images

14. "I work at a paper mill where we make Kirkland (Costco) paper towels and toilet paper. We recently switched to new paper and packaging for the toilet paper and corporate has been here for weeks upon weeks. We have to pull a bundle off each machine every hour, and corporate looks everything over with a magnifying glass (they open it, look over each individual package, open each package, unravel each toilet paper roll, look at the perforation, embossing, etc..). When it comes to the Kirkland brand, they mean business."

A cart outside of a Costco store.
Getty Images

15. "I used to work for a debt collection company where I had access to credit card statements. If I saw someone’s statement was all groceries, bills, and medical expenses I would do everything I could to help them out. It was obvious that person was clearly struggling and opened a card to pay for necessary expenses. I didn't feel as sympathetic for the caller whose statement was a huge balance maxed out on luxury items like designer clothing, expensive restaurants, and fancy resorts. Normally those customers were the ones who would curse me and threaten me on the phone."

Hand holding fanned out credit cards.
Getty Images

16. "As a florist I'll warn you to never, ever eat the edible flowers you get in drinks, on a cake, etc. The amount of pesticides used on flowers is unregulated and incredibly dangerous."

A pink drink in a martini glass with edible flower garnish.
Getty Images

17. "I've been a hospital employee for over 20 years. If you complain to hospital management or an in-house patient care rep, you absolutely will start getting better care. Hospitals are a business and they want to avoid any possible negative surveys or audits if a complaint goes higher up. So you better believe if you say you're unhappy and ask to talk to administration, you'll receive better care and attention. The moral of this story is don’t be afraid to speak up when it comes to your health."

Sliding emergency room doors.
Getty Images

nicy2

18. "Former Disneyland employee here. We see everything in the rides. There are cameras everywhere, and they have night vision. So yes, I saw you cop a feel on your girl when you thought no one was watching.”

View along Main Street to Cinderella Castle, Magic Kingdom.
Getty Images

19. "NEVER use the glasses provided in hotel rooms, especially in the bathrooms. I've seen housekeeping 'clean' them with the same rag that they use to clean the toilet and sink. Think staying in an expensive hotel makes a difference? Think again."

A hotel room bathroom.
Getty Images

20. "I worked at Subway and the 'baked fresh every day' promise is word play. The truth is the bread comes in frozen dough sticks that we have to let thaw to put toppings on them. Then they go an appliance that leavens the bread before it goes into the oven. If you come into Subway for breakfast, you're most likely getting the previous day's leftovers."

A vegetable sandwich from Subway.
Getty Images

21. "I work at a car dealership, and the best day to buy a used car is the last day of the month. All the salespeople are scrambling to meet their bonuses and many will even take a losing deal. Don't ever settle for what they try to give you at first. They can do better. They give you a bad price at the start to see if you’ll take it, but stay firm. When they say they’re 'talking to the banks,' it's not true. They're just talking to their desk manager."

A car dealership.
Getty Images

22. "As a former pizza restaurant cashier, starting with an existing item and making lots of substitutions is the easiest way to piss off every employee. This sort of order just messes up our inventory since it goes into 'special instruction' rather than the main ticket, which includes the weights of the toppings."

A chef making pizza.
Getty Images

23. "I worked at a gym, and I'd advise you to pay for your membership or cancel it. If you don't, we send it to collections, which can ruin your credit."

Treadmills in a row.
Getty Images

24. "I work at a large chain bookstores, and it is upsetting that so so many perfectly good books get thrown out. Mass market paperbacks are cheap to manufacture. When the bookstore wants something off the shelf to make room for new products, it's not worth the cost of finding else to sell the unwanted inventory. At the same time, they don't want anyone getting the books for free. I almost cried the first time I had to get rid of a load of perfectly good kid's books."

A bookshelf of children's books.
Getty Images

25. "I'm a celebrity event photographer in Hollywood. Most of the winners at smaller award shows like the MTV VMAs and Teen Choice Awards already know they are going to win. This motivates the talent to show up at the event. During the show they hang out backstage talking with friends and they take a seat during a commercial break just before their award is announced. The few exceptions are the Oscars and Golden Globes where the audience is mostly celebrities."

The Hollywood sign.
Getty Images

26. "I work at a Five Guys, and our burgers cost what they do (on the expensive side) so that we can provide customers with unlimited toppings made from fresh ingredients. Also we open each store at 7 a.m. to hand-press each patty, cut each tomato, prepare each piece of lettuce, cut every fry. It’s a lot of work and it's exhausting so please be kind to your local Five Guys crew members and managers. We do a lot more than other fast food chains."

Cheeseburgers being assembled.
Getty Images

27. "Wash all your new clothes before you wear them. You don't know the hygiene of those who tried something on or wore it and returned it before you bought it. You also don't know what was next to it in the shipping container, what it might have been sprayed or washed with at the factory, or how many times it's been on the stockroom floor. I cringe when I see someone put on a piece of clothing just purchased from a store."

Interior of a clothing store.
Getty Images

28. "I was a Victoria's Secret employee, and I wish I could tell you the number of men who would try the old 'my wife is exactly your size...maybe you could try this on so I can get an idea of what it might look like on her?' thing on me. It was disgusting."

Three mannequins in a Victoria's Secret window.
Getty Images

29. "I worked as a barista at a drive-thru, and everyone should know that we can hear almost everything that you say in your car when you're next to the speaker. Also, there’s no need to yell into the speaker. Just talk how you normally would. We hear way more than you think."

A Starbucks drive-thru.
Getty Images

30. "I work at Michaels, and we legally aren't allowed to confront shoplifters — even to accuse them of stealing. The other day a lady walked right past the cashiers with three duffel bags full of ornaments and a chocolate fountain. All we could do was ask her to pay and when she started for the door we just told her to never come back."

A woman stealing jewelry from a store.
Getty Images

31. "At the supermarket chain I work for, I catch customers picking food off the hot and cold buffets with their bare fingers all the time."

A buffet at a market.
Getty Images

32. "I worked at Forever 21, where the stockroom was just a giant pile of clothes that got chucked into the back room. Literal piles of clothes stacked 20 feet high in a room probably 15x30 feet. It looked like a landfill of clothes. I only worked there a month because I couldn’t take it anymore."

A messy pile of clothing.
Getty Images

jlbaum

33. "Former fast food employee here. Don't trust the ice machines. They are rarely (read: almost never) cleaned. They contain bugs, dirt, food particles, whatever. At two previous restaurant jobs there was only one ice machine, and I felt bad that customers were getting gross ice. I mentioned it to the managers, but they just brushed it off as if they didn't have time to deal with it."

A soda machine.
Getty Images

34. "Candy store employee here. We left chocolate out in display cases for months on end. When my friends came by to the store I told them to avoid it at all costs."

Candy on display.
Getty Images

35. "I worked at Panera Bread and can tell you that all of the soups — yes, all of them — arrive at the restaurant frozen and in plastic bags."

A Panera Bread restaurant.
Getty Images

36. "I am a veterinary nurse at an emergency hospital and we 100% give your pets cute nicknames, give them kisses, and let them sleep in our laps when it's not busy. And we always pick favorites. 🥰"

A vet stroking a small white dog.
Getty Images

Are you privy to an industry secret that people might love to hear about? Tell us in the comments.