Listen, if you're a human and you live on this planet, you probably like McDonald's.
But what ~really~ goes on behind the scenes? Well, recently, reddit user u/Yung_Mulann365 asked "Employees of McDonald's, what secrets did you discover while working there? and whew, I learned a lot...mostly amazing hacks and tips and tricks. Read on to discover them for yourself!
1. It's not usually the employees' fault if the ice cream machine is broken.
"The ice cream machines are just not cleaned properly and display dumb error codes nobody but an authorized dude knows — so blame the machine maker because they provide bad instructions and no troubleshooting help."
2. Although, a lot of the time, the ice cream machine isn't broken at all.
"They're typically powering up because someone forgot to turn them on at the appointed time. We just say that they're broken because it's short and concise way to express that you're not getting your ice cream for the next few hours."
3. A lot of times, it's just stuck in a long cleaning cycle.
"The ice cream machine is set up for failure. The damn thing always needed to do this four-hour cleaning cycle. If you messed it up you would have to call this neck beard of a tech to come and fix it."
4. The kitchen doesn't use fresh onions.
"Dehydrated onions, you put them in a metal thing and just add water. The thing is they still taste great! But I was shocked and happy that I didn't have to go cut onions."
5. Fair warning if you like the sweet tea: five gallons contain at least four pounds of sugar.
6. Pro tip: Don't order breakfast after 11.
"Never get the breakfast menu after 10:30 or 11. We start the lunch menu then, so if you for example, got a sausage egg muffin at noon, the muffin, sausage, and egg will have been sitting in the reheating cabinet for...an hour and a half. We only toss the last breakfast items at 2, when we fully stop serving breakfast items."
7. Along those lines, only order a Filet-O-Fish at lunchtime.
"If you are a weirdo that goes to McDonald's for Filet-O-Fish, go at lunchtime. Despite rules to throw that crap away xx minutes after cooking, they regularly would be served late at night."
8. One weird thing you may not know is that the burgers aren't flipped.
"One thing I was SHOCKED by...was that no burgers are flipped. You put your...patties on the grill and hit a couple buttons and a second grill comes down and both sides are cooked for you. I loved scooping a big tower of them off the grill to plop into the warming trays."
9. If you want to make employees' lives easier, say the size of your meal first when ordered.
"If you're ordering a meal, say the size first (Large Number 1 with a Coke). Everyone knows that ordering the meal is cheaper than getting that same sandwich, fries, and drink individually, but here's the secret: The POS has a button for the large #1 and a different button for the medium #1, then another menu for the drinks. So if you say, 'I want a #1 with a Coke,' I can't hit any buttons until I know the sizes of the meal (the size of the fries), and the size of the drink."
10. The sections and tools for cooking chicken and beef are actually kept separate very well for people who don't eat beef.
"The Hindu coworkers were very vocal about this rule if you worked the grill."
11. The burgers are pretty fresh — they're only kept in the warming area for 15 minutes before being thrown out/replaced.
12. However, sometimes if it's busy, the timer gets reset so they might've been there for more than 15 minutes.
"Regarding the timer. If a manager didn't persist or it was a little busy, the timer would often get reset with the same food inside, multiple times.. At least where I worked."
13. Overall, strict standards keeps McDonald's food fresh and the store super clean.
"The food was not gross at all. Like our kitchen was super clean, our meat was frozen and cheap but it was never gross, our veggies were always good. The only thing 'gross' was the fact that if you worked the french fries, you would go home covered in oil."
"It’s probably one of the cleanest restaurants in your city. The standardizations and routine practices leave little room for employees to think for themselves. It was a way cleaner restaurant than the $30–$50 per person place I would work at later."
14. Though part of this means that they throw out a ton of food at the end of the day.
"We had a bucket to toss the food in, and managers had to count it at the end of the day. It was disgusting to see how much (perfectly edible) food was being thrown out. Luckily, if you manager was cool, you could ask to eat it in the back quickly (this was especially the case with pies)."
15. If you want real cracked eggs, avoid sandwiches that advertise folded or scrambled eggs.
"Sandwiches with round egg use real, cracked eggs. Folded and scrambled come from packaged goods in the freezer or fridge."
16. You can also just ask for sunny-side-up eggs in your Big Breakfast if you want real eggs.
"McDonald's is the biggest buyer of chicken and eggs in the world."
17. You can get multiple free cookies through the app.
"There is a glitch with the McDonald's app. There is a 'deals' section and it usually has a coupon for a free cookie or free apple pie with any order. Add it to your order and you get the free cookie. Then, the next time you order from the app, just reorder your last meal (you can add/subtract whatever you want) but the free cookie will still be there. The glitch is that you can add another free cookie from the deals section, and now you have two free cookies. Evidently there is no cap to this. I now get 5 free cookies with each order. (I stopped at 5 because I felt that any more than that would be overkill)."
18. Just like at In-N-Out Burger, you can get a grilled cheese that's just buns and cheese.
"You can ask for grilled cheese. We put cheese between two backward buns and grill it."
19. There are a ton of secret meals staff will make themselves — but don't try asking for one.
"Worked there in high school. 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."
"Back when we had the old cheeseburger buns, before McDonald's 'got healthy' we used to scrunch up the buns and deep fry in the fry vat. Covered them in sugar, and you end up with something tasting like donuts."
20. However, one custom creation you CAN ask for is an apple pie McFlurry.
"You can ask them to throw an apple pie into the McFlurry, so you now have a Pie Mcflurry."
21. If you don't want shredded lettuce, you can ask for "leaf lettuce."
"Sometimes it tastes better on certain sandwiches."
22. You can get a cheaper Big Mac by ordering a double cheeseburger with lettuce and Big Mac sauce.
"The Big Mac is just a double cheeseburger with Thousand Island dressing, lettuce, and an extra piece of bread. If you order a double add lettuce and Big Mac sauce, you get the same thing with less bread and cheaper price."
23. You may have heard of the "hack" where if you want fresh french fries, you ask for fries with no salt so they have to be made on the spot. However, you can just ask for fresh fries.
"I always thought it was hilarious how people would think they’d be so smart by ordering fries with no salt when you could literally just ask for fresh fries."
24. Actually, you can ask for anything you want fresh, and it's worth it if you're going in late at night.
"As a former employee, I learned you could ask for anything you wanted fresh. To anyone reading this — when its late or low-key hours at McDonald's, order your shit fresh. The max cook time is like 5 or 6 minutes for nuggets, 4 minutes for any beef. WORTH IT, TRUST ME."
25. And if you want to tell how fresh the fry oil is, you can tell by the color.
"If the fries are yellow/brown, the oil hasn't been changed in a long time. If they come out white/very pale yellow, they're made in fresh oil."
26. Finally, this isn't a hack, but just don't be a dick to McDonald's employees. It's a decent company to work for, and people have to make a living.
"The store I worked at had incredibly high standards. I was taught proper customer service skills, how to de-escalate a situation, time management, cleaning skills, people skills and so much more. I thrived there because I was lacking adult role models anywhere else in my life. My managers made sure I was caught up on my homework, helped me study, made sure I was eating — even though it was fast food, it was better than no food. I made some of the best friends I’ve ever had and am still friends to this day. I can truthfully say working there saved my life in high school. ... I’ll just say this. Don’t knock the kids/people working fast food. Don’t make fun of them, laugh at them, or make them feel bad. They are learning valuable skills that will serve them well later in life. They are doing what they can to earn money. They’re serving you the junk food you want while learning how to grow up to be a successful adult."
Responses have been edited for length/clarity.