June 19, 2024


Than a Food Fitter

Fast-Food Workers Are Revealing Their Wildest And Grossest Secrets About Their Jobs, And Holy Crap

10 min read

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Fast-food workers are sharing their wildest behind-the-scenes secrets from their jobs — and you might want to wait until you’re done eating to read some of these.


It all started when Reddit user u/CloudyToast_ posed a viral question to the internet: “People who’ve worked in fast food, what are some secrets you’ve discovered?”


Here are some of the top-voted responses from users:

1.“If you were a dick in the drive-thru, your food 100% got spat on or ‘accidentally’ dropped on the floor. Managers partook too. I guess it ain’t a secret because everyone suspects, but I thought it was a myth, tbh. Was kinda stunned.”


2.“The place where I work doesn’t have a dishwashing machine; nor do we have anyone to consistently do dishes all day. So it’s not uncommon for dishes to pile up over the course of hours until closing (or until we run out of clean dishes). Then we just send someone to the back to hose down all the dishes with water until they look good enough.”


3.“The ice cream machine is never broken. They just don’t wanna clean it. They’re supposed to do a simple clean daily, some sort of deeper clean weekly, and basically take it apart and power-wash it monthly. I think most people would say they don’t get paid enough for that.”


Someone filling a cone at an ice cream machine

Mgstudyo / Getty Images/iStockphoto

4.“The only thing that is fresh and healthy — not premade, bagged, and/or frozen — at, like, all fast-food places is the tomatoes.”


5.“If the cooks replace all the oil in the fryers with fresh oil, the food tastes like shit for a day or two. The trick is to replace about 75% of the oil with fresh oil. You have to leave 25% of the old stuff in so that the ‘flavor’ people expect is there. Also, the oldest guys are usually the ones who change the oil because it’s heavy, hot, dangerous, and backbreaking work. Therefore, if that guy isn’t on schedule for a while, the oil isn’t getting changed. So even though it’s supposed to get changed weekly, it can go a month without being changed, easy.”


6.“Management got bonuses based on how fast drive-thru orders were taken and handed out the window. During lunch rush, we had to get the food out in less than 25 seconds. If the general manager wasn’t there, we’d sometimes cheat the system by asking the car at the window to slightly pull up (just off the censor), and while the timer was paused, we would make all the orders behind them so we could hand them out quickly. We would offer free food to cars we had pull up.”


A drive-thru sign

Geraint Rowland Photography / Getty Images

7.“Back when I was a fry cook, some customers thought they were being slick and would order unsalted fries to make sure they got fresh ones. We cooks would just put already salted fries back into the fryer to wash the salt off.”


8.“The cooked burgers that don’t get sold go into a pot in a refrigerator, and they get made into TOMORROW’s chili. The crispy chicken that doesn’t get sold today? It goes into a pot in the fridge and gets made into TOMORROW’s crispy chicken salads.”


9.“I worked at a fried chicken joint during my teenage years. The owner refused to let us throw away chicken pieces that had gone bad to the point where you’d gag if you smelled them. We battered them up, fried ’em, and served them to unsuspecting customers. I never did eat fried chicken from a fast-food joint again.”


Chicken pieces in a fryer

Jdwfoto / Getty Images

10.“The milkshakes with ‘real ice cream’ were just powder. Loved ’em as a kid, never ordered ’em again.”


11.“People have such tight schedules and so much to produce in the kitchens at busy branches that if they drop something on the floor, they’ll often still put it out to be served.”


12.“If it’s super busy, you can cook double but only put through half. Some food can only sit for 30 minutes before being discarded. But if you cook 100, tell the computer you’ve done 50 and then put the other 50 through 30 minutes later; it halves your impossible workload. But then that food that’s supposed to sit for a maximum of 30 minutes sits for an hour.”


Burgers on a griddle being cooked, some with cheese on top

Hispanolistic / Getty Images

13.“I used to work at In-N-Out Burger, and I found out they print Bible verses on the bottoms of cups and wrappers.”


14.“Do not pull up to a drive-thru and immediately say ‘Hello????’ There’s a ding that lets us know someone is waiting at the drive-thru, and I will purposely make someone wait if they rush me. Be patient; if nobody answers within a minute or two, then it’s totally acceptable to say hello. Oh, and put up your windows if you are on the phone when you’re in front of the speaker box. I don’t want to hear that you got your back blown out by your cousin because you decided to talk to your phone after I took your order.”


15.“The handwashing signs are displayed to make the public feel safe. The workers don’t actually wash their hands as much as they should.”


An "Employees must wash hands before returning to work" sign

Justin Smith / Getty Images/iStockphoto

16.“Ever notice the straws are fatter so you drink more and want more?”


17.“Health inspection is really kind of a sham. Health inspectors tend to inspect all the restaurants in an area around the same time. When the inspector shows up at one restaurant, the manager will typically notify the other restaurants in the area. We would call in extra people to do a deep clean of everything. It did not matter that most of the year, every time we hosed out under the fryer or food prep lines, we drowned hundreds of roaches. When the health inspector showed up, everything was clean, so we still had a 100% on our health inspection.”


18.“Even the restaurants that you think are clean are not. I worked at one that most would consider to be a top-tier fast-food establishment, and for years we battled cockroaches, found fried mice inside the fryers about once a year, experienced several grease fires, never cleaned beyond what was plainly visible until the second the health inspector was walking through the door, and bypassed safe food practices occasionally for the sake of time. And this was all while receiving passing scores from the health department, which knew about the cockroaches. But the health standards were that as long as you were on a pest control treatment plan to eliminate them, it didn’t count against you — even if, at every visit for years, they found cockroaches.”


A dead cockroach on the floor

Sparkle / Getty Images/iStockphoto

19.“It costs pennies for all the fountain soda syrup that they charge $1 per cup.”


20.“Don’t fucking order a salad. People use their grubby-as-fuck gloves (usually used to make burgers) to make it.”


And finally…

21.“The restaurant that I worked at had rats, and when we took pictures of them and sent them to higher-ups, they banned phones.”


A rat in a kitchen on a plate with leftover food on it

Tenra / Getty Images/iStockphoto

You can read the full thread of responses on Reddit.

Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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