In the modern world, fast food is very much a part of our everyday lives and most of us view it as nothing more than a treat because of its well-documented unhealthiness. Even when we resist the urge to roll up to the McDonald's drive-thru hungover, it's almost impossible to scroll through social media or visit the mall without encountering a fast food chain of some sort.
And because this food is unbelievably cheap, people have started to wonder how in the heck its produced. After all, a burger that costs 99c has got to have a catch, right? As a result, a number of fast food myths have become so prevalent that they're now accepted as facts, but thankfully, they're a testament to, well, the fact that you shouldn't believe everything you hear.
1. McDonald's milkshakes don't actually have milk in them
Back in the days when dairy alternatives weren't a thing, people grew suspicious about McDonald's instance on calling its milkshakes "shakes", which caused many to wonder if they actually contained milk. Some people speculated that alternatives including styrofoam and cow eyeballs (seriously) were used, but the fast-food giant addressed the myth on the FAQ page of their website, writing that their milkshakes do indeed contain milk and soft serve ice cream (which is made from milk).
2. Starbuck's Frappuccinos contain ground-up insects
Alright, admittedly, this was true, but given that tonnes of food products contain ground-up insects, it's not shocking. But because of consumer backlash, Starbucks stopped using a coloring known as carmine or cochineal, which is made from crushed bugs. However, it's still present in a lot of products so if it's something you don't want to consume, check the ingredients list.
3. Taco Bell uses dog-food grade meat
We all flock to fast food restaurants because they're a quick and cheap way of filling up, and everyone knows that even by fast food standards, Taco Bell is particularly cheap. As a result, people started to wonder what corners the chain was cutting to keep their prices so low and that's when the dog-food grade meat rumor was born. The chain has since addressed the rumor, saying that the meat they use is nothing more than beef with a combination of seasonings and thickeners.
4. It's impossible for McDonald's burgers to decay
By now, pretty much everyone has seen the viral images of years old McDonald's products which appear to have not decayed in the slightest, implying that they're full of a dangerous amount of preservatives. Food Lab's Kenji Lopez-Alt, however, put these claims to the test with an experiment that proved McDonald's burgers were simply drying out like beef jerky and that homemade burgers did exactly the same thing when they were left to decay for a long period of time.
5. KFC meat comes from mutant chickens
Since abysmal conditions in factory farms became public knowledge, people have understandably been worried about where their chicken comes from. However, the myth that KFC is deliberately breeding mutant chickens with extra limbs for their buckets is completely untrue. While some consumers argued that the chain's name was proof that their meat couldn't be called chicken, this was cleared up by the Colonel himself in 2016 when he explained that it was nothing more than a marketing decision.
6. Chicken nuggets are made from pink slime
Just like the pictures of McDonald's food which appears not to have decayed, there's also a viral picture of what's seemingly inside chicken nuggets - pink slime. Thankfully, while this slime is in some nuggets, McDonald's has been using white meat only since 2003. It's also worth noting that while the slime looks disgusting, it's nothing more than ground up meat.
7. McDonald's makes Super Size meals
After the notorious 2004 documentary Super Size Me which proved the dangers of eating McDonald's on a daily basis, the chain removed its Super Size meal option - let's face it, even if you're incredibly hungry, you don't need a 42-ounce soda or 610-calorie carton of fries. However, it's still a good idea to keep an eye on the chain's portion sizes as a large McDonald's meal only contains 100 calories less than the now nonexistent Super Size meal.
8. French fries are vegan
Sure, French fries are made of potatoes, but they can have additives which stop them from being vegan. "If you're a vegan, you definitely want to read the ingredient list at any fast food restaurant," says Karen Ansel, MS, RDN, author of Healing Superfoods for Anti-Aging: Stay Younger, Live Longer. "Things like French fries can sneak in animal products like hydrolyzed milk."
9. Wendy's Chili is made with human fingers
First thing's first, if true, this would be cannibalism, which as Willy Wonka famously said in the 2005 movie, is frowned upon in most societies. However, this is some truth to this myth. One portion of Wendy's chili did contain a human finger - but it wasn't put there by the restaurant chain. Instead, a customer thought it would be a great addition so she could sue them.
10. Arby's uses "liquid meat"
Despite being a meat-based restaurant chain, some people are convinced that Arby's isn't actually selling meat. So what exactly is it? A combination of reconstituted liquid, gel, powder, or paste - supposedly. However, if you have a quick browse of the company's website, you'll see plenty of roasts being cut - so don't worry if it's one of your favorite haunts.
11. The Egg McMuffin doesn't contain eggs
Despite rumors that the eggs in McDonald's breakfasts aren't what they're cracked up to be (pardon the pun), the eggs in McDonald's breakfasts are exactly that: eggs. Supposedly the rumor came from fast-food bloggers who wanted publicity from making controversial claims about chains as big as McDonald's - basically, they imply food is worse than it actually is.
12. White Castle onions are fake
Yes, as hard as it might be to believe because onions are so cheap, it's rumored that White Castle's onions were cabbage slices soaked in onion juice. But one bite at the restaurant is enough to prove that there's absolutely no truth to this.
So, the next time you roll up bleary-eyed to the McDonald's drive-thru, take comfort in the knowledge that contrary to what you've heard in the past, that Egg McMuffin is exactly what it says on the tin, or rather, McDonald's breakfast menu!