The shocking secret about your fast-food eggs

Eggs help you stay healthy—and even lose weight! But it turns out not all eggs are what they’re cracked up to be. When you get a breakfast sandwich from a fast food spot, there’s a pretty good chance that “egg” is a blend of eggs and something else.

Panera Bread was recently developing its lineup of breakfast sandwiches and discovered that the FDA didn’t exactly define what an “egg” was. The loose definition of one of our favorite kitchen staples meant a restaurant could include added flavors, xanthan gum and added color to anything listed with “egg” as an ingredient. Don’t forget these 9 foods nutritionists never order at fast-food restaurants.

25 PHOTOS
The 25 best fast-food chains
See Gallery
The 25 best fast-food chains

25. Jet's Pizza

Headquarters: Sterling Heights, Michigan

US sales in 2016: $368 million

Number of US locations: 404

Customer satisfaction rank: 24

Value rank: 35

Brothers Eugene and John Letts opened the first Jet's Pizza restaurant in Michigan in 1978 and since then, it's spread to 18 different states across the US.

Jet's claims not to scrimp on ingredients. And its pizzas aren't dirt cheap. On average, customers can expect to spend $8.05 on a meal at the chain. Its signature style, the deep-dish square pizza, comes in many varieties or customers can choose to create their own from scratch

Photo credit: Facebook.com 

24. Jamba Juice

Headquarters: Frisco, Texas

US sales in 2016: $547 million

Number of US locations: 828

Customer satisfaction rank: 16

Value rank: 37

Founded in 1990 in a California beach town, Jamba Juice was years ahead of today's ubiquitous green smoothie and healthy living trends and remained a favorite for loyal customers over the years.

The chain's menu has expanded sine then, now offering Greek yogurt or acai berry bowls with soy milk. There's also plenty of new fruit and vegetable smoothies.

Photo credit: Getty 

23. Potbelly Sandwich Shop

Headquarters: Chicago, Illinois

US sales in 2016: $446 million

Number of US locations: 454

Customer satisfaction rank: 25

Value rank: 16

When Potbelly opened in 1977, it was an antique shop. The young couple who ran it decided they wanted to serve lunch to their customers and the store evolved into a local lunch spot. In 1996, entrepreneur Bryant Keil bought Potbelly and turned it into a franchise; he stepped down as CEO in 2008 and is no longer involved.

Today, not only do all the Potbelly stores serve sandwiches and fresh cookies, but each location has its own potbelly stove

Photo credit: Getty 

22. Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches

Headquarters: Champaign, Illinois

US sales in 2016: $2.22 billion

Number of US locations: 2,620

Customer satisfaction rank: 30

Value rank: 15

At Jimmy John's, customers can't get enough of the chain's signature subs and "freaky fast" delivery service. Jimmy John Liautaud opened the first shop back in 1983 to avoid pressure from his father to perform a stint in the Army. Papa Liautaud lent him $25,000, and if the restaurant turned a profit the first year he wouldn't have to enlist. Sure enough, the gourmet sub business took off and he slowly expanded across the country — it now has the most amount of franchises in our top 25 list.

Jimmy John's franchises commit to sustainability by partnering with suppliers who reach high standards of sustainable and ethical food practices. The chain also employs local businesses to build and maintain each JJ's store.

Photo credit: Getty 

21. Firehouse Subs

Headquarters: Jacksonville, Florida

US sales in 2016: $683 million

Number of US restaurants: 1,037

Customer satisfaction rank: 8

Value rank: 6

This Florida-based franchise was founded in 1994 by a pair of brothers who were former firefighters and sought to bring the enthusiasm and appetite of the firehouse to their restaurants.

Serving bold-flavor sandwiches piled high with quality meats and cheeses, this popular chain is in growth mode, having opened in Canada and now expanding into Mexico

Photo credit: Getty 

20. Cold Stone Creamery

Headquarters: Scottsdale, Arizona

US sales in 2016: $362 million

Number of US restaurants: 905

Customer satisfaction rank: 4

Value rank: 30

It's not just ice cream parlor, Cold Stone Creamery serves up smoothies, cakes, and shakes also. The ice cream is freshly made every day in the stores and blended on a frozen granite stone, which keeps the temperature exactly the same.

Cold Stone also supports community projects, working closely with Best Buddies, a non-profit that helps people with disabilities to secure jobs and live independently.

Photo credit: Getty 

19. Tim Hortons

Headquarters: Oakville, Canada

US sales in 2016: $760 million

Number of US restaurants: 683

Customer satisfaction rank: 44

Value rank: 36

This Canadian chain, known for its coffee and donuts, has also become a favorite in the US. It was set up in 1964 by its namesake Tim Horton, a former National Hockey League legend in Canada.

Horton started off by selling coffee and donuts, which cost 10 cents each, but by the '80s he added muffins, cakes, soups, and chili into the mix. These are now staples on the menu.

The cafe also offers Cold Stone Creamery ice cream in certain locations.

Photo credit: Reuters 

18. Schlotzsky's

Headquarters: Atlanta, Georgia

US sales in 2016: $338 million

Number of US locations: 362

Customer satisfaction rank: 15

Value rank: 18

The average customer order totals just over $10 at Schlotzsky's, according to Technomic. That's pricey for a sandwich shop, but the higher-quality offerings keep customers satisfied. Schlotzky's serves up a mix of classic and specialty sandwiches as well as offering four different types of mac n' cheese, flatbreads, soups, salads, and gourmet pizzas.

After more than 40 years of operation, Schlotzsky's now has locations in 35 states and three foreign countries.

Photo credit: Facebook.com

17. McAlister's Deli

Headquarters: Ridgeland, Mississippi

US sales in 2016: $593 million

Number of US restaurants: 387

Customer satisfaction rank: 22

Value rank: 14

The Mississippi-based deli specializes in local and regional American favorites, from The New Yorker with its corned beef, pastrami, and Swiss on marbled rye to the Spicy Southwest Chicken with guacamole, fire-roasted corn, and chipotle ranch sauce.

It's well-known for its Sweet Tea drink, which is brewed in store and comes with free refills.

Photo credit: Facebook.com

16. Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Headquarters: Lorton, Virginia

US sales in 2016: $1.4 billion

Number of US locations: 1,284

Customer satisfaction rank: 14

Value rank: 62

The cult favorite started in Washington, DC, in 1986 when former bond trader Jerry Murrell and his family opened a burger joint — named after Murrell and his four sons — with the goal of cooking hamburgers and fries using the best quality ingredients.

The chain is off-limits to those with peanut allergies, as all fries are cooked in peanut oil and there are barrels of old-fashioned peanuts lining each shop's dining area. 

Photo credit: Reuters 

15. Cinnabon

Headquarters: Atlanta, Georgia

US sales in 2016: $163 million

Number of US locations: 836

Customer satisfaction rank: 12

Value rank: 33

Cinnabon is all about cinnamon. This popular chain was the brainchild of a father and son duo, who opened the first bakery in Seattle, Washington in 1985.

It's is known for its signature warm cinnamon roll, which comes with a rich cream cheese frosting and is sold in various different sizes, but there's also cinnamon flavored donuts, crispy pastry straws, and an expansive coffee menu.

Photo credit: Getty 

14. Ben & Jerry's

Headquarters: South Burlington, Vermont

US sales in 2016: $58 million

Number of US locations: 172

Customer satisfaction rank: 5

Value rank: 8

Best friends Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield originally had plans to create a bagel company but found that the bagel-making equipment was too expensive. Instead, they purchased an old gas station and turned it into a scoop shop.

The brand celebrated 39 years in business this March and is now known for inventive ice-cream flavors like Red Velvet Cake, Phish Food, and Cherry Garcia. Each employee that works for the company is given three tubs of Ben & Jerry's a day.

Photo credit: Getty 

13. The Habit Burger Grill

Headquarters: Irvine, California

US sales in 2016: $298 million

Number of US restaurants: 172

Customer satisfaction rank: 10

Value rank: 21

West Coast chain Habit Burger Grill first set up shop in 1969 in Santa Barbara, serving burgers with freshly-baked buns. Since then, the chain has swelled to 175 restaurants in 10 states across the US. It's also added chicken and tuna burgers, salads and shakes to its menu, and was named the best-tasting burger in America in 2014, according to a survey by Consumer Reports, beating competitors like Shake Shack, In-N-Out, and Five Guys.

Photo credit: Getty 

12. Marco's Pizza

Headquarters: Toledo, Ohio

US sales in 2016: $489 million

Number of US locations: 770

Customer satisfaction rank: 21

Value rank: 13

This cheap pizza joint first opened in Toledo in 1978. Today, it has 800 restaurants across the US, the Bahamas, India, and Puerto Rico.

The menu has grown too, and Marco's now offers sandwiches, hot chicken wings, and salads, along with multiple sauces to go with each dish.

Photo credit: Facebook.com

11. Zaxby's

Headquarters: Athens, Georgia

US sales in 2016: $1.7 billion

Number of US locations: 825

Customer satisfaction rank: 32

Value rank: 46

Started by two childhood friends aiming to alleviate the lack of great wing joints in their Georgia hometown, Zaxby's is known for its craveable wing sauces and crinkle-cut fries.

Photo credit: Facebook.com

10. Jersey Mike's Subs

Headquarters: Manasquan, New Jersey

US sales in 2016: $825 million

Number of US restaurants: 1,187

Customer satisfaction rank: 11

Value rank: 41

CEO Peter Cancro bought his first Jersey Mike's at the age of 17 after spending his summers working at the sandwich shop in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. A high school senior at the time, Cancro was able to buy the shop after he took a loan from his school football coach at the time.

Jersey Mike's is now known for its handcrafted subs loaded with high-quality ingredients. In 2016, Nation's Restaurant News announced that it was the fastest growing restaurant chain in the US.

Photo credit: Facebook.com

9. Culver's

Headquarters: Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin

US sales in 2016: $1.3 billion

Number of US restaurants: 605

Customer satisfaction rank: 23

Value rank: 29

At Culver's, diners can expect to spend a little more than they would at a run-of-the-mill burger joint, with average orders totaling around $10, according to Technomic. But it might just be worth it for the chain's frozen custard and ButterBurgers, the signature burger that gets its name from the glaze of butter that coats the bun.

This year, Culver's was ranked in second place on Restaurant Business' annual list of America's favorite chains.

Photo credit: Facebook.com 

8. Jason's Deli

Headquarters: Beaumont, Texas

US sales in 2016: $702 million

Number of US restaurants: 260

Customer satisfaction rank: 9

Value rank: 12

Nutrition is a priority at Jason's Deli, which serves sandwiches, salads, pastas, soups, and desserts. It has eliminated artificial trans fat, most artificial MSG, and all artificial colors, dyes, and flavors from its food over the past 10 years. It even claims that its soft-serve is made with 100% natural ingredients.

Photo credit: Facebook.com 

7. Papa Murphy's Pizza

Headquarters: Vancouver, Washington

US sales in 2016: $885 million

Number of US locations: 1,537

Customer satisfaction rank: 7

Value rank: 2

This pizza franchise started in 1995 after the merger of two pizzerias, Papa Aldo's and Murphy's Pizza. Its pies are "take and bake," meaning they are made to order and cooked in the customer's oven at home.

Customers can pick from the signature pies like Pepperoni and Hawaiian, or they can create their own and choose the type of dough, sauce, and toppings. Papa Murphy's scores top marks for customer satisfaction on value, coming in at second place in the total list of 25 restaurants.

Photo credit: Facebook.com

6. Pollo Campero

Headquarters: Dallas, Texas

US sales in 2016: $111 million

Number of US restaurants: 68

Customer satisfaction rank: 13

Value rank: 4

With only 68 stores, Pollo Campero is by far the smallest chain on the list. But diners adore the casual chicken spot, touting it as a solid value.

Pollo Campero, initially founded in Guatemala in 1971, stands out from other "better chicken" chains, such as Wingstop and Raising Cane's, for its authentic Latin flavors and impeccable service — meals are served on real plates with real silverware.

Photo credit: Getty 

5. Krispy Kreme

Headquarters: Winston-Salem, North Carolina

US sales in 2016: $758 million

Number of US restaurants: 307

Customer satisfaction rank: 6

Value rank: 17

In 1937, Krispy Kreme founder Vernon Rudolph used a recipe given to him by a New Orleans chef so that he could make and sell doughnuts to local grocery stores. As the fresh-baked donut smell wafted into the streets, customers began requesting to purchase the delicacies directly, so Rudolph cut a hole in the wall to open his first retail location.

In October 2015, the chain opened a new store in North Carolina which resembled a coffee shop, Business Insider reported. Six months later, it was bought by JAB, the parent company of coffee brands including Caribou Coffee, Peet's Coffee and Tea, and Keurig Green Mountain, for around $1.35 million.

Photo credit: Getty 

4. Whataburger

Headquarters: San Antonio, Texas

US sales in 2016: $2.2 billion

Number of US locations: 806

Customer satisfaction rank: 17

Value rank: 11

Whataburger founder Harmon Dobson's goal was to create a burger so big that customers would have to use both hands to hold it. It would be so good that at first bite they would declare, "What a burger!" Thus, in 1950, Whataburger was born.

What started off as a burger stand, almost 70 years ago, now has 700 restaurants in the US. Although it lost out to In-N-Out Burger in Business Insider's taste comparison, it's still a favorite of many in the south.

Photo credit: Getty 

3. Chick-fil-A

Headquarters: Atlanta, Georgia

US sales in 2016: $6.7 billion

Number of US restaurants: 2,062

Customer satisfaction rank: 2

Value rank: 3

This Southern favorite is the largest food chain on our list and comes in first place for total sales in 2016.

The fried-chicken chain diversified its menu last year, adding a kale and broccolini salad, a premium coffee line, new sauces, and a barbecue-bacon sandwich in an effort to take on competitors. If you want to know what's best to order, check out Business Insider's guide.

Photo credit: Getty 

2. Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers

Headquarters: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

US sales in 2016: $741 million

Number of US restaurants: 306

Customer satisfaction rank: 3

Value rank: 5

Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers focuses on only one menu item: first-rate chicken strips. But what truly keeps fans addicted is Cane's signature tangy sauce, a secret blend that customers can't get enough of.

Raising Cane's has a high customer satisfaction rating and it's benefiting the chain; sales grew by 31% in 2016.

Photo credit: Facebook.com

1. In-N-Out Burger

Headquarters: Irvine, California

US sales in 2016: $807 million

Number of US restaurants: 325

Customer satisfaction rank: 1

Value rank: 1

In-N-Out Burger scores highest on customer satisfaction and value, making it the winner overall.

California's first drive-thru hamburger stand, In-N-Out Burger first opened in 1948. Nearly seven decades later, the menu remains simple, offering only five items. But loyal customers know that if they want to expand their options, they can order off the not-so-secret menu — it features items such as a protein style burger and grilled cheese.

In-N-Out can only be found on the West Coast, but there's a good reason for that. Since the chain prides itself on serving top-notch ingredients free of additives or preservatives, all stores must be within 300 miles of the distribution facilities. Sorry, East Coasters.

Photo credit: Getty 

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Pro tip: Luckily, you won’t run into this fake-egg problem with the cartons you’d at the grocery store—but be sure to follow our egg buying guide to get the best pick.

What’s in popular fast food eggs

Panera did some research and found that 50% of the top 10 fast food restaurants that sell breakfast have an “egg” made of at least five ingredients. To confirm, we did some research of our own! Here’s a look at the ingredients in popular fast food breakfasts:

McDonald’s: The classic Egg McMuffin is made with a real egg.

Taco Bell: The Breakfast Crunchwrap and Grande Scrambler Burrito, among others, are made with an egg blend that includes whole eggs as well as soybean oil, salt, citric acid, pepper, xanthan gum and guar gum.

Panera Bread: The Bacon, Egg & Cheese and most of the chain’s other breakfasts are made with a real egg.

Chick-fil-A: The scrambled egg in the Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit is made with whole eggs and water plus salt, natural butter type flavor [medium chain triglycerides, coconut oil, natural flavors], xanthan gum, citric acid, and annatto.

Dunkin’ Donuts: The Bacon, Egg & Cheese Sandwich uses a blend of egg whites, egg yolks, soybean oil, and water.

We’re not going to stop eating at restaurants like Chick-fil-A—they have a secret menu!—but it does make us love Panera and McDonald’s even more than before.

10 PHOTOS
10 up-and-coming healthy fast food chains
See Gallery
10 up-and-coming healthy fast food chains

Leon — a European fast food chain that's coming to the US

The London-based fast-food chain Leon offers wraps, salads, sandwiches, and bowls made from fresh ingredients. 

Launched in 2004, Leon now has almost 50 restaurants in the United Kindom and Netherlands. After a $31 million funding boost in 2017, the company announced it will expand to the US market.

Leon founders John Vincent, Henry Dimbleby, and Allegra McEvedy have said that their long-term goal is to become more valuable than McDonald's.

Credit: Instagram

Salad and Go — A drive-thru salad chain

Salad and Go sells 48-ounce salads for around $6, as well as soups, smoothies, and breakfast items for around $4.

The brand is trying to rival more established drive-thru chains by making the ordering experience fast and convenient, cofounder Roushan Christofellis told Business Insider. 

Since launching in the fall of 2016, Salad and Go now has six locations in Arizona, with plans to open eight more by 2018 and to expand elsewhere in the US by 2020.

Credit: Instagram

LYFE Kitchen — A healthy chain backed by Oprah's former personal chef

Founded in 2011 in Palo Alto, California, LYFE has 20 locations in six states (California, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, Tennessee, and Texas).

While the chain doesn't explicitly brand itself as healthy, everything on the menu contains less than 600 calories and 1,000 mg of sodium, and the dishes are free of high-fructose corn syrup, butter, cream, trans fats, MSG, and preservatives. Most items cost less than $10.

As noted by First We Feast, LYFE is backed by Art Smith, Oprah’s former personal chef, who has also appeared on "Top Chef."

Credit: Instagram

Veggie Grill — A vegan chain that claims its burger tastes better than a Big Mac

The vegan chain Veggie Grill serves burgers primarily made of pea protein, while its "chicken" sandwiches contain soy, pea, and wheat protein. Prices range from $3.50 to $11.50.

The chain has 28 locations, all of which are in California, Washington, and Oregon. In late 2016, the chain announced it will expand nationally after getting $22 million in funding from investors. By 2020, Veggie Grill plans to double in size.

"Today’s consumer is more mindful and aware that eating a diet made up primarily of veggies, fruits, grains and nuts is better for you," CEO Steve Heeley told Business Insider. (Unsurprisingly, Heeley is a vegan himself.)

Credit: Instagram

Eatsa — An automated vegetarian chain

At the vegetarian chain Eatsa, customers place their orders on iPads and pick up their food from automated cubbies. Human workers prepare everything in the back.

Specializing in quinoa bowls that cost around $7, the chain's meals range from 450 to 700 calories.

Currently, Eatsa (which debuted in 2015) has four locations in San Francisco and Los Angeles. In November 2016, it added a DC location and opened its first New York City location in December.

Credit: Instagram

Dig Inn — A farm-to-table eatery

With a menu that emphasizes locally sourced vegetables, Dig Inn offers items like maple and sriracha-glazed Brussels sprouts and poached wild salmon. Diners order pre-made main dishes and sides at a counter, which are placed in compostable boxes.

Since its launch in 2011, the farm-to-table chain has opened 14 locations in New York City and one in Boston. Dig Inn's CEO Adam Eskin told BI that the company plans to open more Massachusetts locations and add others in a third state by 2018.

Dig Inn forms partnerships with local farmers, which allows it to keep its prices relatively low, Eskin said. However, a plate from Dig Inn generally costs between $8-$11, which is more expensive than most food from McDonald's or Burger King. (However in New York City, where real estate prices are among the highest in the country, a McDonald's Big Mac meal costs around $8.)

Credit: Instagram

The Kitchenette — A grab-and-go joint where most items cost $5

In August 2016, Kimbal Musk (yes, he's Elon's brother) launched a fast food restaurant that serves sandwiches, soups, and salads — the majority of which cost $4.95. Called the Kitchenette, it's located inside the visitor's center at Shelby Farms Park, a 4,500-acre urban park and conservancy in Memphis, Tennessee.

The grab-and-go spot is part of Musk's larger chain of restaurants, called the Kitchen, which strives to use produce and meat from local purveyors. Musk plans to launch more Kitchenette locations within Memphis and eventually nationwide, though there's no firm timeline yet.

Credit: Instagram

Freshii — A plant-based chain that's been around for 10 years

Freshii, a Canadian fast food franchise founded in 2005, offers salads, wraps, and bowls, the majority of which are under 700 calories and cost $7. It boasts more than 300 locations worldwide and is one of America's most popular healthy fast food chains. In the past few years, new locations have opened inside airports, stadiums, and Target stores.

In 2015, after McDonald's announced its menu improvements, Freshii's CEO Matthew Corrin sent an open letter to McDonald's, in which he offered to partner with the fast-food giant and pushed the chain to serve healthier food.

Credit: Instagram

Everytable — A chain that changes its prices based on the average income in the neighborhood where it's located

Everytable, which launched its first Los Angeles location in 2016, adjusts its prices depending on what its local customers can afford.

The South LA location (where households earn a median salary of $30,882), for example, offers salads and bowls for less than $4.50. In early 2017, Everytable opened a second location in downtown LA (where the median salary is $99,990), which offers the same items for around $8. Both stores' ingredients will be sourced from local purveyors, but the idea is that sales in wealthier neighborhoods can partially subsidize operations in lower-income areas.

Everytable's cofounders, Sam Polk and David Foster, told BI they plan to expand the chain to more LA neighborhoods and eventually to other cities around the US.

Credit: Instagram

LocoL — A California eatery where everything costs $6 or less

LocoL, a fast food concept spawned by famed chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson, offers a new take on traditional fast food.

The chain's dishes contain more calories than, say, a salad, but everything is made with high-quality, locally sourced, whole ingredients. In LocoL's cheeseburgers, for example, cooked grains and tofu make up 30% of the beef patties. Its chicken nuggets also contain fermented barley. Instead of soda, fruity aguas frescas are made in-house every day.

The chain, which launched in 2016, currently has three permanent locations and an array of food trucks in Los Angeles. In coming years, Choi and Patterson hope to have nine locations nationwide, including a coffee shop and a kitchen where their staff can prepare the trucks' food off-site, according to Eater.

If you're in LA and inkling for a cheeseburger, LocoL's $4 one is served as quickly as McDonald's, is better for the environment, and according to First We Feast, tastes great.

Credit: Instagram

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Is this healthy?

Well, it’s always best to build your diet around whole, unprocessed foods. You want to know exactly what you’re eating, even when you’re on the go. (That’s at the heart of clean eating and plans like Whole 30.) It’s OK to splurge on a breakfast sandwich every now and then, but you can always make a copycat at home—with a freshly cracked egg! Check out these other secrets your fast-food worker won’t tell you.

The post The Shocking Secret About Your Fast-Food Eggs appeared first on Reader's Digest.

Read Full Story