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13+ Things a Fast Food Worker Won’t Tell You

From the easiest way to get quicker service to how clean your food actually is, uncover the surprising secrets your favorite fast food restaurants don’t want you to know.

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1. Visit During Peak Hours

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.

(Photo: Stockbyte/Thinkstock)

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2. Those Grill Marks on Your Burger?

Not real. They were put there by the factory.

(Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

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3. Nice Try

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. 

(Photo: Hemera/Thinkstock)

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4. Don’t Come by Too Early

Most fast-food joints clean everything, including the grills and the drink machine nozzles, with super-concentrated chemicals at the end of the day.

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. 

(Photo: Big Cheese Photo/Thinkstock)

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5. Want Your Food Fresh?

If you ask, most of us will cook something new for you.

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.

(Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock )

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6. Help Us Not Charge You More

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.

(Photo: Steve Mason/Photodisc/Thinkstock)

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7. Your Suspicions are Correct

Our chili is in fact made from what you think: meat from old burgers.

(Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

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8. Healthy? Give Me a Break!

When someone comes in and says she’s trying to be healthy- then orders a salad with crispy chicken, I always laugh to myself.

At McDonald’s, some of those salads have about as many calories as a Big Mac.

(Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

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9. Service is Faster in Your Car

Because we’re timed on how fast we get customers through the drive-through, we always prioritize those in line outside over anyone at the front counter. 

(Photo: Photodisc/Thinkstock)

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10. It Does Happen

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.

(Photo: Istockphoto/Thinkstock)

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11. An Easy Way to Check for Cleanliness?

When you get your drink, bend down and look up into the ice chute. If you see mold or something else growing in  there – which is more common than you might expect – they’re not cleaning the machine as often as they’re supposed to.

(Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

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12. Why Does Your Food Look Nothing Like the Ads?

Those gorgeous pictures? 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.

(Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

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13. Please, Please, Get Off Your 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.

(Photo: Jupiterimages/

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14. We Hate it When you Order 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 4 or 5 cones at a time, it’s almost impossible to get them to you before they melt everywhere, and then you want new ones.

(Photo: Hemera/Thinkstock)

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15. 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 ten 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!

(Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock

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16. The 10-Second Rule?

Some fast-food workers definitely follow it. I’ve seen people drop food, pick it back up and put it on the grill.

(Photo: Photodisc /Thinkstock)

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17. We Probably Should, But We Don’t

Most of us don’t donate our leftovers.

I can’t believe how much food we throw out every day, especially at the end of the night.

(Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

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18. Nothing is Actually Free

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.

(Photo: Hemera/Thinkstock)

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19. It’s a Secret

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.

(Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

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20. Why is the Service so Bad?

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.

(Photo: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Thinkstock)

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21. At Our Level, No One’s Getting Rich

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.

(Photo: Stockbyte/Thinkstock)

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22. We Don’t Always Bother

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. 

(Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

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23. How Clean is the Kitchen?

Look around to see how much trash is in the parking lot, 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.

(Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

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24. Sorry, but Funny is Funny

It’s why 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-thru speaker, yelling at your husband or kids.

(Photo: Stockbyte/Thinkstock)