A couple of years ago, I started my 13-month employment at a local McDonald's restaurant. Like any job, there were ups and downs, but overall, I still consider it a pretty decent first job. Would I do it again? Never in a million years. But one thing I'm always asked is whether or not working at McDonald's has put me off their food for life. Because let's face it, most of us love a cheeky cheeseburger, but if you saw how it was all made, would it be just as appetizing?
I learned a few secrets during my time at McDonald's, and as I've never been good at keeping secrets, I think it's time you found out what McDonald's employees really get up to behind the counter, what they really think about their customers, and whether or not all those scandalous stories are real...
32. Drive-thru Is Quicker
If you're really after FAST food, then go through the drive-thru instead of eating in. Employees are instructed to prioritize drive-thru orders over the restaurant customers. Because at McDonald's, the lazier the better! The drive-thru experience is supposed to last 90 SECONDS from placing your order to receiving your food.
There's always been a discussion about what happens with all the food waste. Do the staff get to eat it? Does it go to charity? Do we just sell it to customers anyway? Well, here's the truth...
31. Staff Don't Get To Eat The Leftover Food
Whether it's the end of the day or the timer on the food product has run out, we are forced to put any food waste in the trash. We don't get to take it home or give it away - it's thrown into a special food waste trashcan and each item is later counted to manage exactly what products have been wasted.
You'd think working at McDonald's over a year would be enough to put anyone off the food, but that's far from the truth. It may be against company policy, but the temptation is just too much...
30. We Do Eat On The Go
Sure, eating the food is against the rules, but with all those fries and McNuggets around, can you blame us? Whilst the manager's back is turned, every employee will snack, but if we're caught, we're in big trouble. I was once sent home without pay, and one colleague was suspended for a week. In fact, I once ate an entire McMuffin in the FREEZER just because I knew there were no cameras in there.
This may seem like a pretty awesome employee perk, but after a while of doing it every day, you start to see some serious health side effects...
29. We Do Get McDonald's For Lunch
Depending on how long your shift is, you are entitled to an employee meal during your break time. You can basically pick from any standard meal on the menu, and no additions can be made. Although, if you have a friend working in the kitchen, they're usually happy to throw an extra burger in the bun. McDonald's crew members have to look out for each other.
A lot of people think working a day at a McDonald's restaurant is the worst job in the world. However, it's made twice as bad when the sun goes down...
28. Most Employees Hate Working Nights
A McDonald's employee has to deal with a lot of customer complaints on a good day, but when the customers are drunk, the shifts become an absolute nightmare. And it's not just about dealing with rowdy and aggressive people, one woman actually smeared her shit all over the toilet walls in the restaurant where I worked.
It's true, not all the food at McDonald's is cooked fresh-to-order. However, there are rules for how long food can be kept for after it is cooked...
27. The Timers
Any time we cook food that isn't being used for an order right away, we keep it in a heater with a set time limit. When the timer counts down to zero, we're supposed to take the food out and throw it away. However, due to the fact there's nothing actually wrong with the food, most employees will just reset the timer and leave the food in there until it's sold - and this can be done for hours!
Now, if you want to make sure you're going to get a fresh meal that hasn't been sat under a heat lamp for hours, you should always make a "grill" order...
26. Fresh Food
Whenever an employee makes an order that has been altered from the original menu, the kitchen staff receive the "grill" order and must cook it from scratch. For fresh fries, order them without salt, or for a fresh Big Mac, ask for it without the pickle.
This sandwich has been around since 1962, but has never gained the popularity of a Big Mac! In fact, most of the staff can't stand cooking them...
25. Fish Products
Out of all the items on the menu, fish products are the most annoying to cook. Why? Because most restaurants won't even bother keeping a Filet-O-Fish or fish fingers in the heaters, because the chances of them being ordered are rare. Then, out of nowhere, we'll receive five orders all needing fish. This takes time, which obviously isn't great when you're working in fast food. The reason they're still on the menu is to cater for cultures that don't eat beef or chicken products.
So what's the biggest problem with working at McDonald's? The managers? The smell of cooking oil constantly in your clothes? Nope, it's the customers...
24. Know What You're Ordering
The guys on the tills honestly cannot stand dealing with stupid and indecisive customers. Know what you're going to order before you reach the counter! Understand that meal comes with fries and a drink! And don't stick "Mc" in front of every word! McThank you!
Restaurants in the city will often be fast-paced and constantly busy. However, what about those smaller chains tucked away in a small town? Well, it can get very quiet...
23. Bored Staff Games
When the staff get bored, they will mess around. I once watched a guy build a fort out of Happy Meal boxes, and employees will often have bets on the customers. But perhaps the greatest "in-joke" is ringing a bell whenever a hot girl comes to the till - all work in the kitchen ceases, as employees peer through to check them out.
Depending on the restaurant, customers can pay up to 25 cents for some extra sauce. But you can get around this just by making sure you ask the right people...
22. Extra Sauce
Most restaurants have introduced a policy where customers must pay for extra sauce packets. However, most crew members (avoid the managers) really don't care, and as long as you ask nicely, they'll be happy to throw you some extra sauce on the side.
Most people I've met have always heard horror stories about the condition and cleanliness of a McDonald's restaurant. But the truth couldn't be more different...
21. It Really Is Clean
I promise. Behind the counter, the kitchens are well maintained, and hygiene is extremely important. Most staff are forced to wear hairnets and must wash their hands whenever they re-enter the kitchen. I mean, that doesn't mean what you're eating is going to be any healthier, you can just rest assured that we haven't spit in it (honestly, we don't care enough to spit in food).
Everybody loves McDonald's whenever the Monopoly game tokens return - and this includes the employees. Despite the fact employees are forbidden from winning any top prizes, that doesn't stop us checking every single empty cup we find in the restaurant...
If we do end up winning, we'll just give it to a friend and split the prize! Or visit the other restaurants to claim free meals. Oh, and a good tip for customers; to get extra stickers, ask the cashier for a large tap water. They'll give you a large cup with the stickers attached!
Some members of staff have them, others don't - but most customers are not even sure what they represent. Here's everything you need to know about the "Stars"...
People used to get a right kick out of asking me, "How many stars you got?" No, stars are not earned for cleaning a toilet or making the perfect Quarter Pounder, staff members have to go through a training programme for each star, where each one usually reflects a small pay rise and attributes towards obtaining a higher position. In the 13 months I was there, I earned zero stars... like I said, I really didn't give a shit.
A lot of questions I often got asked about were regarding how much of the food was actually microwaved. Well, we do have microwaves in the kitchen, but they're only used for certain things...
The kitchen does have a microwave, but the only things we microwave are pancakes and oatmeal. Relax - all your burgers are cooked thoroughly on a grill. I promise!
He's supposed to make kids feel relaxed and happy about eating their Happy Meals, but this guy is literally the personification of all my nightmares...
17. Ronald McDonald
The famous McDonald's mascot is actually real. The company pay people to dress as the fast food icon and visit stores to entertain the customers and staff. But trust me, on a busy Saturday afternoon, having a f*cking clown messing around in the kitchen is the last thing any employee wants.
You may not believe this, but working on the fries station for a whole shift is one of the best things you can do at McDonald's. It's relatively stress free, until this happens...
16. Please Don't Order Fries Without Salt
It's may sound easy, but cooking a fresh batch of fries without salt is a painstaking process. Not only do we need to fry an entire bag of fries just for you, and all the equipment used to make and package the fries need to be cleaned to get the salt off them.
So, what really is in a standard beef burger patty, and how long do they take to cook? Well, there's a reason McDonald's is called 'fast food'...
15. Burger Patties Take Just 42 Seconds To Cook
That's right, for a standard border patty (used in Big Macs and Hamburgers) it takes just over forty seconds to cook, and there's no flipping because they're cooked on both sides at the same time. The larger quarter-pounder patties take 112 seconds on the grill. Then all we add is a little salt and pepper.
McDonald's always proudly states how they only use "free-range eggs" for their McMuffins, but what about the eggs in their Big Breakfasts?
14. Do You Really Want Scrambled Eggs?
The scrambled egg that is usually found on the Big Breakfast actually comes out of a carton... Even though there are fresh eggs in the kitchen that we use for McMuffins. Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it, but trust me, it's not all egg in there...
People love their coffee! But just because you're craving a caffeine fix doesn't mean you have to be rude. This is what happens if you struggle to be a morning person...
13. Oh, You Wanted A Decaf Coffee?
Some people want decaf - perfectly understandable and we're happy to help. However, if you order decaf and then get impatient that there's not any brewed, then there's a good chance you'll be getting half a cup of regular coffee with half a cup of hot water mixed in, especially if you're in the drive-thru.
Okay, I've never seen anybody spit in a customer's food - but dropping food is a different story. When you're under pressure to get an order out, mistakes can happen, but as long as a manager didn't see, employees will pick up food from the floor and send it out.
12. Drop It Like It's Hot
On one occasion I was under pressure to get an Apple Pie out as soon as possible. Rushing, I dropped the pie and the filling shot all over the floor. Of course, I did the sensible thing and picked up the pastry shell, packaged it and sent it out anyway...
11. Learn What A "Meal" Is!
Most items on the menu come as a "meal", which means it includes a side order (fried, salad etc) and a drink. Don't ask for a meal if you don't want fries or a drink! This is a huge annoyance to employees working the tills.
10. There Is No "Secret Menu"
Despite the many websites and videos claiming there is - there isn't. The images you see of "super burgers" like the one above are either made by bored employees, or constructed from multiple burgers at the table by customers. So don't ask for a "McGangBang", because you won't get one.
9. Drive-Thru Workers Don't Sit Down
This may sound odd, because no other member of staff gets to sit down either. However, at least they get to move around! When you're working ten hours on drive-thru, you have to stand in the same spot, whether there are cars coming through or not. It's agony on your back.
8. The Beef Is Grade A
There are no two ways about this; the beef is quality. Sure, it may not be from your favorite cut of the cow, but it is of the highest quality. Afterall, when you're serving it to millions of people every day, it needs to be! So don't believe the horror stories.
7. The Milkshake Machines Are Neglected
Yes, these images show what came out of an actual milkshake machine at McDonald's. Sadly, many restaurants neglect the weekly machine clean because it's such a chore. Best way to avoid this is to go to a McDonald's you can trust! (Often if they're really busy, or really quiet.)
6. The McMuffin Eggs Are Real Eggs
A lot of people I've spoken to refuse to eat the McMuffin because they hate the round "rubbery" eggs - which has always confused me. The eggs in McMuffins are 100% real, free-range eggs that are cracked in store and cooked that morning. There is absolutely nothing wrong with them.
5. The Ice Cream Machine Really Is Broken
It's a temperamental and complicated piece of equipment, which means it does break down more than any other machine in the restaurant. So if the cashier says it's broken, it's broken. Please don't cause a fuss.
4. Don't Worry About The Gloves
Gloves are included in the kitchen and must be worn for certain tasks, such as cracking the eggs or handling raw patties. However, employees do not wear gloves all the time. This is actually a good thing because people who wear gloves when they're cooking are LESS likely to notice when their hands are dirty - so don't freak out if you see the cooks not wearing gloves.
3. It Really Is Addictive
Most people associate addiction with illeagal hard substances. However, a research by the Scripps Research Institute in California discovered that the food from McDonald’s is actually just as addictive as hard substances. This is down to the dangerously high sugar content in the food. This, in turn, generates too much dopamine, unlocking the brains reward pathway in the same way hard drugs do. So there is a reason you can't get enough Maccy D's.
2. We Judge People Who Bring Their Children
The fact is, we know McDonald's is bad for us, but as adults, we can make calculated choices in our diets, and are able to have a run if we eat too many burgers. However, kids only eat what the parents give them. So if a parent is feeding their kid fast food multiple times a week, we are oging to judge, because it's just wrong.
Also, kids are incredibly impressionable, and everything about McDonald's is about hooking them from an early age. From the clown to the free toys to the bright colors - we want to guarantee kids as customers for a lifetime.
1. We Try To Recreate The Ads
We've all seen the ads that make burgers look huge and irresistible, and we all know too well that this is far from what we receive in the bag. However, every employee at one point or another has tried to replicate the image on the menu perfectly. But this takes precision and time, so we can only do it if it's really quiet. And most of the time, we fail.
I cannot stress how different every restaurant is. Most of the time, the freshness of the food depends on how busy the restaurant is, or how lazy the restaurant manager is. Either way, I hope this list has put your mind at ease.
Oh, and one more piece of advice. Don't eat the chicken... seriously.