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Confessions of a Former Fast Food Manager: McDonald's Secrets

Is this what really happens at McDonald's?

Is this what really happens at McDonald's?

Everything You Want to Know, but Are Too Scared to Ask

Do employees really spit in food? How fresh are the burgers? Does McDonald's hire just about anybody? What's in the Big Mac sauce? Is it hard to work there?

There are hundreds of McDonald's secrets that the general public is blissfully unaware of. The things I'm about to tell you will shock, anger, and maybe even disgust you. From the mild to the wild, I'll tell you all the dirty little secrets of McDonald's.

A Bit of Background Before I Start Spilling My Fast Food Secrets

I was a McDonald's manager for over seven years.

As a manager, you are often required to help at different locations. I worked at about 10 stores during this time, although most of my time (about 5 years) was spent at the same store. All of my stores were franchised, and I worked for three or four different owners.

One owner was absolutely wonderful. He gave us Christmas cards and offered Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance (maybe that's the norm now, but it wasn't back then). Another owner was a nightmare. She was just a total witch, and that's putting it nicely. I was shocked by the terrible things she said and did. We'll talk about her later.

Training classes were often held in corporate stores, and it was obvious that corporate McDonald's was part of an entirely different ballpark. I'm not saying only good things happen at corporate stores, and I'm not saying all franchises are terrible. I'm just letting you know that some franchises have the opportunity to get away with more. They aren't constantly under the corporate eye.

What secrets do you think I'll spill?

What secrets do you think I'll spill?

Are You Ready to Hear the Secrets of McDonald's?

Not all secrets are bad. Some of them are shockingly bad, though.

I've told people some of the secrets about McDonald's in the past, and many of them just laughed. Others were completely appalled. Some people didn't believe what I was saying, insisting that a restaurant would get shut down if those things were really happening.

Oh really? If most of the managers and owners are all corrupt, who's going to shut the store down? Think about that for a minute.

That goes for any job, by the way. Not just McDonald's. Every company has its own set of secrets. Company scandals are nothing new.



McDonald's Food Secrets

Just a reminder that not all secrets about McDonald's are bad. Many of them are, though.

For easy reading, I'll put all of the food-related secrets in one big list:

  • Employees really do spit in the food. Be very, very nice to the person taking your order, especially if you're in the drive-thru. Why people are stupid enough to be rude to the people who make their food is beyond me, but consider yourself warned.
  • Spit isn't the worst thing people do to the food at McDonald's. Food is thrown on the ground, stomped on, and a few other things I won't mention. Use your imagination.
  • The owner of one franchise I worked at threatened to fire me once. My offense? Refusing to use a case of lettuce that had expired ten days ago. The lettuce was brown and just plain nasty. I threw it away anyway. I knew that legally, she couldn't fire me for that—and if she did, I would have reported her the second I received my termination notice.
  • Demanding that you are served "fresh food right off the grill" will not really get you fresh food. It'll get you a dried-up hamburger patty dunked in grease so it looks fresh. It's insulting to ask for fresh food at a store where the food is actually fresh.
  • There's nothing McDonald's employees hate more than customers who come in and ask for fries with no salt or insist that their fries are cold even though they were just removed from the fryer. When you do this, it's the same as asking for a fresh hamburger—you'll get old fries dunked in the oil for 15 seconds. Enjoy!
  • Burgers and sandwiches are made to order. They do not just sit in a heating tray. Stop acting like you know what goes on behind the scenes. Some customers order burgers without ketchup or with extra pickles just so they don't get "one of those burgers that are already made." None of the burgers are already made, okay? You're wasting your time with special requests. Unless you truly want no ketchup.
  • McDonald's french fries are not vegan or vegetarian. They contain natural beef flavor. Seriously. Look it up on the official McDonald's website.
  • Your food isn't extra sanitary just because the grill workers wear gloves. Those same employees take out trash and even go to the bathroom without removing their gloves. I've also seen them scratch a few special places on their body while wearing gloves.
  • McRibs aren't always McRibs. McRibs take forever to cook, and orders have to be filled quickly (more on that later). In a pinch, employees throw hamburger patties in the McRib container and drench them with sauce. I never saw a customer return one, so I guess nobody notices.
  • Everybody wants to know what's in the Big Mac sauce. It's basically just thousand island dressing, pickles, and onions.
  • Never order breakfast at 10:29 a.m. unless you want them to dig your food out of the waste trays. At the end of breakfast (and throughout the morning), all of the extra food is thrown in a special trash can that is used only for expired products. A crew person or manager counts the waste at the end of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Unless they're shorthanded, then they count it at the end of the day or just make up numbers.
  • Never say, "and you idiots better not mess it up this time like you always do," after placing your order. Just trust me on this one.
  • It takes 38 seconds to cook one hamburger patty, and you can cook eight or nine at a time.
  • Each order must be assembled in a certain amount of time. I know that the entire order-taking process for drive-thru orders, from start to finish, is 90 seconds or less. I can't remember how long the grill team has to make each order, but I think it's around 25–35 seconds. I'll double-check with some friends who still work at McDonald's and update this article soon.
Be nice to the drive-thru employee.

Be nice to the drive-thru employee.

McDonald's Secrets About Customer Service (And a Few Crazy Things Customers Do)

The customer isn't always right, especially at McDonald's.

  • If you scream at us, we will make fun of you as soon as you leave. The minute you raise your voice or call us names, we stop caring about your experience.
  • McDonald's managers can call the police on unruly customers. Avoid screaming, refusing to leave, or throwing things. You can get kicked out—and arrested. Would you like fries with your handcuffs?
  • Nine times out of 10, it's your fault the order is wrong. You can watch the security cameras if you think I'm joking. It's not the cashier's fault that you didn't know a Big Mac came with pickles. It's not the girl in the drive-thru's problem that you were too busy yapping on your cell phone to pay attention when she repeated your order. What sucks is that even though they know you were the person who screwed up your own order, the employees still have to stand there and apologize while you rant and rave about how stupid they are.
  • One night, a woman jumped out of her car, bashed the windshield in the car behind her, and jumped back in her car like nothing had even happened. When the police came, they arrested her and her boyfriend—it turns out he had a warrant out.
  • I once had a man throw a milkshake at me because his order was wrong. I didn't even make his order. I was the cashier.
  • A man was stabbed in our parking lot by another customer. They both went to jail.
  • Do you have any idea how many drunk customers break the drive-thru window by beating it? Ugh.
  • We can't open the window or doors after we close them—it's a safety precaution. It doesn't matter how badly you have to go to the bathroom or want a medium Coke. We're closed. Get over it. Come back tomorrow.
  • McDonald's is not Applebee's, Friday's, Chevy's or any other restaurant of that nature. Unless you're going to leave a tip on the table, pick your tray up and throw your trash away. The same people who say, "Well, that's what the employees get paid to do," are the same people who can't understand why nobody is at the counter, ready to take their order. It's because they're all busy cleaning the dining room, so slobs like you can eat at a clean table.
  • We don't care what you think about us. Save your lectures for somebody else. We don't care what you have to say about our pregnancy, educational background, piercings, or lack of religious beliefs. Oh, and when you try to make fun of us and accuse us of being on welfare, you just look like an idiot. If we were on welfare, we wouldn't be sweating to death, serving ungrateful brats like you.
  • Not all customers are bad. Some of the regulars bring Christmas cards, cookies, photos of their kids, and anything else they think we'll like. You are awesome, and your kind acts do not go unnoticed.
Some customers are really nice.

Some customers are really nice.

McDonald's Secrets About Employees

How many people work at McDonald's? Last time I checked, approximately one in eight people have worked, or currently work, at McDonald's. That's a lot—more than one billion, to be exact.

McDonald's employees are an interesting bunch. It takes a special personality to handle a fast-food job—which is why the turnover rate is incredibly high. Not only are the customers stressful, but dealing with your coworkers and managers is an experience unlike any other.

  • Many of the employees are on probation or fresh out of prison. Ankle bracelets and monitors are not uncommon. These people are usually very nice and better employees than some of their coworkers, though, so don't be scared.
  • The last McDonald's I worked at hired a known sexual offender.
  • Labor laws ... what are those? Oh, the things that guarantee 14-year-olds get a break and don't work in the grill. Yeah, half of the managers totally ignore those.
  • Nobody gets breaks unless you're underage and the manager cares about the law. You're lucky if you get two minutes to cram some food down your throat.
  • Benefits? Ha.
  • Sexual harassment is worse at McDonald's than at any other job I've ever had. Reporting it is usually pointless since the main managers tend to be the ones hitting on underage girls and "accidentally" brushing up against them.
  • Most crew members and managers are sleeping with somebody at the store, even if they're already in a relationship.
  • Employees have sex at the store. I know some of them have done it on the dining room tables, in the grill, in the stockroom, and in the play area at closing time. Oh, and let's not forget about the bathroom.
  • Most employees smoke weed. Any employee who begs to take out the trash or stock the freezer is probably going to get high.
  • Many employees also use other drugs ... on the clock. I'll never forget the time I walked into the bathroom and saw several lines of coke neatly lined up on the sink. A lot of employees also roll (use ecstasy) on the clock.
  • Many of the managers have college degrees, so don't assume you're smarter than them.
  • Managers don't always verify your documents or Social Security Card. We had several illegal immigrants working at one of my stores. They were the best employees there, so it's not like anybody was going to say anything about it.
  • My interview process was extremely easy: I showed up, and they asked when I wanted to start. I'm not joking.
  • Many employees show up drunk. When I was 17 or 18, my manager used to buy us all alcohol each day. Whether you drank it before, after, or during your shift was your own choice.
  • Theft is common, and it usually occurs by managers. One guy stole $35,000 and went on a drug binge before they caught him.
  • Years later, I'm still friends with many of my former coworkers. You develop some incredible friendships when you work in a crazy, drama-filled fast-food restaurant.

There Are Thousands of Other McDonald's Secrets ...

McDonald's has more secrets than you could ever possibly imagine—enough to fill 10 or 20 articles, maybe more.

If you like this article, let me know—I'll be happy to create another article and reveal more secrets about America's favorite fast-food restaurant.

Oh, and if I forgot anything, feel free to share your own secrets in the Comments section below.

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