McDonald's is the world's most popular fast-food chain, with more than 68 million customers served each day in its 36,000 restaurants across the globe. Ever since the company was founded in 1940, its reach has expanded exponentially, with stores in more than 100 countries. However, while McNugget and Big Mac connoisseurs may think they know everything there is to know about the Golden Arches, only McDonald's employees know what goes on behind the counter.
From how likely you are to get your hands on fresh fries to what's really in those Egg McMuffins, these McDonald's secrets—straight from McDonald's employees who spilled the beans on Reddit—are sure to surprise even the most die-hard fans. However, McDonald's isn't the only fast-food chain with a few tricks up its sleeve: These 30 Secrets From Panera Employees might just shock you!
You have to ask for fresh food
If you want your World-Famous Fries and McDouble fresh out of the oven rather than precooked and reheated, you have to speak up and ask. Don't just assume everything is fresh based on their high ingredient turnover. "Some places do a bad job at keep[ing] track of the fresh timers. I'd personally ask for everything fresh even if you have to wait 3-5 min[utes] for it to be ready," one Reddit user wrote.
Yes, the ice cream machine is broken
That joke about the ice cream and milkshake machines being constantly out of service isn't so far off. McDonald's employees confirmed that the reliability of the frozen dessert machines is questionable, at best. "The McFlurry/milkshake machine is prone to breaking all the time and the amount of time it takes to get it repaired can put it out of commission for a day or two," wrote one McDonald's employee. According to the insider, there are also separate, but visually similar, mixes for McFlurries and milkshakes, and when they get poured in the wrong place, the machine has a habit of shutting down.
Egg McMuffins are made with real eggs
We've all heard rumors about what goes into fast food meals, but fear not: Your Egg McMuffin is made of actual eggs. While it may be hard to believe that anyone could get an egg so perfectly round, it's the result of a precise cooking method. "We have to break the shells and place the eggs in special rings on the grill. We then place a cover over the top of the rings (our store cooks eight at once) and put a bit of water into a small funnel at the top. The eggs are steamed and cooked at the same time," wrote one McDonald's cook. "It's actually pretty cool, and it takes a while to 'master' the right technique to get the eggs looking perfectly round."
And for more rumors that just aren't true, don't miss the 50 Biggest Myths About McDonald's Food.
There are cheaper ways to get your favorite meal
Want to save a few bucks on your next Mickey D's order? It's possible. "You can order a sausage muffin ($1.29) and a side of round egg ($1) cheaper than you can order a Sausage Egg McMuffin ($3.29)," says one Redditor, who recommends other menu hacks, like ordering kids' meals with double fries, or ordering an egg and cheese muffin instead of an Egg McMuffin.
Note: You might not be able to find the full McDonald's menu, including round eggs, during the pandemic.
Employees get great disconuts
While McDonald's employees may not be the best-compensated individuals in the restaurant world, they do get some pretty sweet savings. "We get things like discounts with Apple, Via Rail, Hotels, 25% off shoes at Payless," wrote one McDonald's employee.
Drive-thrus won't serve you on foot
If you stumble up to a McDonald's drive-thru on foot and employees won't serve you, they're not just being difficult. "We have a policy that forbids us from serving people who are not in a 'motorized vehicle' in [the] drive-thru because it can be unsafe," wrote one employee. "Bicycles, electric scooters, and pedestrians cannot be served."
You can swap out any sauce
Bummed about the sauce on your Big Mac? Go ahead and ask to swap it out. If you're not happy with the sauce that comes on your food, you're welcome to substitute any other one in its place, according to one McDonald's worker.
And if you're curious, here's What Happens to Your Body When You Eat a Big Mac Every Day.
There's a cash-only time every day at 24-hour locations
If you find yourself craving McDonald's in the middle of the night, you might want to bring cash with you. "McDonald's that run 24-hours are required to restart their system nightly," wrote one employee. "This results in a 30-90-minute window where we are cash only. The person taking the orders has to literally write down the orders, check prices, and add the total because nothing can be entered into the system."
They find your special requests annoying
If you're making a lot of substitutions on your order, it's going to take a while to come out of the kitchen. Worse yet, you'll be holding up the whole store in the process. "Anything that has to be 'custom' we label it as 'special request,'" wrote one employee. "So, they have to literally stop working just to come over and ask what the special request is."
And if you think that ordering fries without salt will get you a fresh batch, there's an easier way that's less taxing for employees. When you order them without salt, the employees may have to clean the scoop and basket. Instead, just ask for fresh fries if the store isn't busy. You'll still get a hot batch without causing the employees an extra headache. And for more tricks, check out these 12 Fast-Food Ordering Hacks That Will Blow Your Mind.
The artisan sandwiches are a hassle to make
Fast food and artisanal food are generally mutually exclusive, so don't be surprised when your artisanal sandwich takes forever to get to you. One employee wrote that the artisan chicken sandwiches are the most time-consuming menu items, with the chicken alone taking an average of eight minutes to prepare if they don't have any already made.
Note: The artisan chicken sandwich isn't available at McDonald's during the pandemic.
They will charge more for certain ingredients
Go ahead and swap out your sauce, but don't be surprised if your double lettuce, double cheese order costs you extra. "You will be up-charged for certain ingredients," wrote one McDonald's employee. "Like the 'Poor Man's Big Mac' (a McDouble with Mac Sauce and shredded lettuce). We will upcharge you $0.30 for the Mac Sauce and $0.20-$0.30 for the shredded lettuce."
That apple pie might not be as fresh as you think
Just because that apple pie is hot and crispy doesn't mean it's fresh. One McDonald's employee claims that those pies could be much older than they appear. "When they expire, we just slap on a new expiration date," wrote the insider.
Dropped food could be re-served
While most McDonald's workers report sanitary work conditions, the occasional unscrupulous employee will serve outright disgusting food, according to Reddit. "Aside from your usual—serving food that was cooked hours and hours ago—many times, buns and nuggets would be dropped onto the floor, just to be picked up and served anyway," wrote one McDonald's employee.
There's a reason they're not wearing gloves
If the fact that a McDonald's employee isn't wearing gloves grosses you out, don't worry: There's still serious hygiene protocol in place (and this was written before the spread of the coronavirus pandemic). "Every hour, we take the time to send each employee to the sink station to wash their hands until every employee has. Using gloves would not be much more sanitary because the bacteria that would build up on ungloved hands would also build up on the gloves if they weren't replaced every hour (or more) too. We do have special, heat-resistant gloves that we wear when handling raw meats before placing them on the grill or in the vats," wrote one self-identified McDonald's manager.
The milkshake machine gets a weekly cleaning
The milkshake machine may be working, but that doesn't mean it's clean. One employee wrote on Reddit that their milkshake machines were cleaned just once a week. "We actually have these tubes that hook up to tubes in the machines," they wrote. "The machine then sucks soap, water, and sanitizer through all the pipes. We did it every Saturday."
Feeling nostalgic? Here are 15 Beloved McDonald's Menu Items That Deserve a Comeback.
McDonald's beef is Grade A
While there are rampant rumors that everything from eyeballs to worms is in your McDonald's hamburger, that's hardly the case. The burgers are made of high-quality stuff. "[It's] Grade A beef. That's it," wrote one employee. "The only stuff we added on it was salt and pepper after it cooked."
Drive-thru employees can't sit
Looking for a job that keeps you on your feet? Try applying for a drive-thru position at your local Mickey D's. "We're not allowed to sit, but we're expected to stand at our windows for hours on end," wrote one drive-thru employee. "Standing in one spot for long periods of time really takes a toll on my lower back and feet."
The hiring process is more stringent than you think
Getting hired is harder than you think. "Although McDonald's is a no-skills-required job, not just anyone will get hired. We turn down a lot of people during the hiring process," says one longtime McDonald's employee. She goes on to say that good communication skills, a team player attitude, having extra-curricular activities on your resume, and potential for advancement are all qualities that managers look for when hiring.
You might want to pass on that breakfast burrito
If there's one menu item at McDonald's to steer clear of, make it the breakfast burrito. Not only are the eggs in the breakfast burritos cooked in a microwave, but the burritos also aren't exactly flying off the shelves. "They end up sitting in the cabinet for a long time," wrote one employee.
There's no secret menu
While McDonald's employees will make you pretty much anything the menu allows, there's no set list of off-menu items to order. "That's a huge myth," wrote one McDonald's employee. "We don't actually have a 'secret menu.' Whenever people ask about the secret menu, we just roll our eyes."
For more, check out these 108 most popular sodas ranked by how toxic they are.