From the secret ingredient that makes their fries so good to the one drink you should never order, McDonald’s food holds plenty of secrets, and McNuggets are no exception. The boxed, bite-size bites of chicken are one of the fast food franchise’s most popular menu items. But there’s something even the most devoted nugget connoisseurs may not know: every nugget that comes out of Mickey D’s is guaranteed to be one of four distinct shapes.
17 things McDonald's employees won't tell you
17 things McDonald's employees won't tell you
You can pay less for your favorite meal
Saving big on your favorite Mickey D’s order isn’t rocket science—and we know the best deals. Try ordering a sausage muffin ($1.29) and a side of round egg ($1) to make a cheaper version of the Sausage Egg McMuffin ($3.29). Other menu hacks: A sundae with a McFlurry topping is cheaper than a McFlurry, and ordering any sauce on the side is free of charge.
If you ask for an off-the-menu item, we might not know how to make it. Just tell us exactly what you want; we will whip up almost anything we have the ingredients for. Looking to shake up your usual order? This McDonald's has the best menu in the world.
Know your order before you reach the register
If you’ve been standing in a long line, be ready to order when it's your turn. Your indecisiveness can be a major inconvenience for us—not to mention the other customers waiting behind you in line.
Craving McDonald’s at 2 a.m.? Make sure you have cash on hand. Because the 24-hour locations must restart their cash register systems every night, there is always a certain time period when we can only accept cash.
You can get creative with the sauce
You won’t always love the sauce that comes with your order. But just ask us to substitute another sauce, instead—and don't worry, we won't charge you for it. Just make sure you're not eating at the most expensive McDonald's in the world.
We don't wear gloves -- but it's sanitary
Rest assured that employees are required to wash their hands at least once an hour. Gloves, on the other hand, can harbor a lot more bacteria than our clean fingertips. You'll want to be sure you're not ordering this drink ever, though.
Artisinal sandwiches are the most time-consuming menu items to make
So be prepared to wait a little longer for your order. (The chicken alone takes an average of eight minutes to prepare!) Same goes for Happy Meals; the toy, drink, and dessert take extra time to track down.
Certain people are paid to visit McDonald’s restaurants and rate their experiences online, and they are reimbursed for their purchase. So if a customer asks for a receipt, we are more likely to serve that customer first and give them the freshest food.
This might surprise you, but our burgers are made of high-quality meat. The only ingredients we add are salt and pepper.
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Don’t worry though, it’s not some freaky chicken conspiracy. It’s the result of a carefully planned process that occurs in McDonald’s factories. A Business Insider video, using footage from a McDonald’s factory in Canada, offers an inside look into nugget production. Before it goes to the fryer, the ground chicken breast meat that will become McNuggets goes through a “rolling cookie cutter” machine. The cutter ensures that the nuggets-to-be are all the same width and one of four shapes. The shapes are the “boot,” the “bell,” the “ball,” and the “bone” (or “bow tie”). Check out the video to see the shapes being made.
But just how different are the four shapes? How do you tell your boots from your bow ties?
Well, the ball is round, as you might expect. The bone/bow tie looks less like either of those things than like a somewhat warped rectangle. The bell is diamond-shaped, and the boot really does look somewhat like a wide boot with a thin toe. (Or like a hook, if you flip it over.) Though the shapes are somewhat less distinct after the batter is added, see if you can still identify them the next time you get your McNugget fix.
What your fast food worker won't tell you
What your fast food worker won't tell you
After we cook something, we put it in a holding cabinet and set a timer.
When the timer goes off, we’re supposed to throw it out. But often, we just reheat the food. So for the freshest meal, come between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. or between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. More people are in the restaurant then, so we’re cooking and serving new food constantly. (These are the worst meals you could order at a restaurant, by the way.)
That plain chicken breast may have been a healthy choice out of the package...
But sometimes we have to slather it with butter just to make sure it doesn’t stick to the grill. On the other hand, these healthy fast foods can satisfy unhealthy cravings.
There’s usually a way to get expensive menu items for less
If you’re craving a Big Mac, for example, order a $1 McDouble with no mustard or ketchup and then add shredded lettuce and Mac sauce for a small charge. It’s basically a mini Big Mac, and you can get two for less than the cost of one Big Mac. Check out more trivia facts you probably didn't know about McDonald's.
Most fast-food joints clean everything with super-concentrated chemicals at the end of the day
That includes the grills and the drink machine nozzles. If you’re one of the first customers in the morning, you may be getting some of that chemical residue on the food or in the drink you order—or, worse. You won't believe what was found on the ice in some fast food restaurants.
Those grill marks on your burger?
Not real. They were put there by the factory. If you want REAL grill marks, it's probably best to make your own at home with one of these burger recipes.
Most of us will cook something fresh for you if you ask
But if you want to make sure your french fries come right out of the fryer, order them without salt; that forces us to cook you a new batch. Then you can add your own salt, and they'll still taste the same. That's because of the secret ingredient that makes McDonald's fries so addictive.
Avoid asking for “extra” of something, like cheese or sauce
As soon as you say “extra,” we have to enter it at the register and charge you for it. Instead, just tell us you want us to “put a good amount on there” or “not to be skimpy with it,” and we’ll load you up.
Yes, our chili is made from what you think:
Meat from old burgers.
It makes me laugh when someone comes in and says she’s trying to be healthy—and then orders a salad with crispy chicken
At McDonald’s, some of those salads have about as many calories as a Big Mac. In fact, a small order of french fries contains four fewer grams of fat than a packet of our ranch dressing. Also, be wary of these "healthy" fast food choices that definitely aren't.
We’re timed on how fast we get customers through the drive-through...
...so we always prioritize those in line outside over anyone at the front counter. And after you leave the drive-through, use this trick to keep your fries crispy the whole way home.
One of my coworkers once got so mad that he spit in someone’s food
He was suspended for three days. Most of us would never do something like that.
Here’s a good way to know how clean a fast-food establishment really is:
When you get your drink, bend down and look up into the ice chute. If you see mold and other stuff growing in there—which is more common than you might expect—they’re not cleaning the machine as often as they’re supposed to.
Those gorgeous pictures of our food in our advertisements?
They’re airbrushed and touched up with fiberglass and paint. It probably takes two hours to make that picture. Obviously, we’re not going to be able to replicate that.
Please, please, get off your cell phone
I’ve had people pull up to the window, pay, and drive away without their food because they’re talking on the phone and not paying attention. Then they’re mad at me. Here are some more crazy stories from drive-through workers.
At most fast-food restaurants, it’s tough to give away free food
Especially things like burgers, because they’re inventoried. We can sometimes give away French fries, ice cream or drinks because we get those ourselves, but it depends on which manager is on duty.
We hate it when you order an ice cream
Most of the time, we’ve got to make it, and it’s already melting by the time we hand it to you. If you order four or five cones at a time, it’s almost impossible to get them to you before they melt everywhere, and then you want new ones.
Here’s something that surprised me when I started working at McDonald's:
Our clam grills are set at 750 degrees, and they can fully cook a regular beef hamburger in just 38 seconds, a quarter pounder in 70 seconds. The first time I ever saw that, I was like, 'Ewww.'
We’re happy to replace something if we mess up, but...
We can usually tell when you’re making up a story to get free food. There was one guy who found a pebble in our parking lot, put it in his food after he ate most of it, and then asked for a replacement. Another lady took 10 tacos home. The next day, she brought just a few of them back, showing us that their lettuce was brown. She wanted another 10 tacos. But of course, if you leave tacos out for 24 hours, the lettuce will turn. Love tacos? Here are some fun taco recipes to try.
Some fast-food workers definitely follow the 10-second rule
I have seen people drop food and then pick it back up and put it on the grill.
No, most of us do not donate our leftovers
I can’t believe how much food we throw out every day, especially at the end of the night. You, however, can do your part. Here's how you can cut back on food waste at home.
All fast-food restaurants are not created equal
Even restaurants within the same chain can vary widely depending on the owner and manager and what kind of standards they set.
When you take three handfuls of napkins or fill your purse with ketchup packets...
I don’t know what you call it, but I call it stealing. You’re just making things more expensive for everyone.
Please don’t ask what ingredients are in our fried chicken coating or in our special sauce
All of our recipes are proprietary, so they don’t even tell us what’s in them. But we can tell you why McDonald's Coke tastes better than anywhere else.
At some restaurants, managers get a bonus if they hold onto their employees and keep their turnover rate down
That gives us an incentive to keep people who aren’t very good, even if they don’t know the difference between a French fry and a screwdriver. And I’m not exaggerating; I’ve had employees who were that bad.
Most of us, even the managers, aren’t making much more than minimum wage
You wouldn’t believe the stuff we put up with for that kind of money. People constantly talk to me like I’m a two-year-old. I’ve had customers throw drinks at me and cuss at me. I’ve been held up at gunpoint.
At Taco Bell, most of our food does carry over, so we reheat it and serve it the next day
That’s why I never take my lunch break early. Plus, fast food can have some weird effects on your brain.
For the best deal at McDonald's, order off the dollar menu
You can get a lot of food for the same price as a meal and it will fill you up more.
We were supposed to wear gloves when we made food
But a lot of times my co-workers didn’t do it, and that really skeeved me out. Here are more dirty restaurant secrets the kitchen crew won't tell you.
Most of us don’t wash our hands as much as we should
Even though there are signs everywhere reminding us it's the law.
Look around to see how much trash is in the parking lot
And whether the bathrooms are dirty and if the dining room is picked up. When things that are so publicly visible are neglected, you can bet that even more is being neglected in the back and in the kitchen where no one can see them. That's just one of the things restaurant health inspectors wish you knew.
Once your order is in at the drive-through...
We have two minutes to get your food before the screen turns red, and the manager asks what’s going on.
We do laugh at you behind your back
Like when you mispronounce our menu items or when you think we can’t hear you through the drive-through speaker, yelling at your husband or kids.
When it was slow, sometimes we would all take the garbage out...
And smoke marijuana in the back. Really, it's true. Want more crazy food service stories? Here's everything your waiter isn't telling you.
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But why have special shapes at all? A curious consumer posed the question on the McDonald’s Canada website. A company representative replied that the shapes and their similar sizes ensure that they all take the same time to cook, which is necessary to ensure food safety. Plus, the shapes are fun for kids, and easy to dip for everyone!
And why is four the lucky number? Well, the Q & A page claims that “three would’ve been too few. Five would’ve been, like, wacky.” Honestly, though, we doubt McDonald’s consumers would’ve really cared either way.