All jobs have secrets, it’s just that not all of them are required to be kept once you’re no longer employed.
If you work for the CIA, you’ve probably got to take those to your grave, but otherwise…go ahead and spill your guts!
And if you’re someone who goes through that McDonald’s drive-thru on a regular basis, you might be interested in hearing what employees learn once they’re given the keys to the castle.
So to speak…
1. A little creativity goes a long way.
Worked at McDonald’s Australia.
Back when we had the old cheeseburger buns, before McDonald’s “got healthy” we used to scrunch up the buns and deep fry in the Fry vat.
Covered them in sugar, and you end up with something tasting like doughnuts.
2. They’ve got it down to a science.
I started working at McDs when I was 15..
The secret is that it’s probably one of the cleanest restaurants in your city.
The standardizations and routine practices leave little room for employees to think for themselves.
It was a way cleaner restaurant than the 30-50$ per person place I would work at later.
3. It’s not as gross as you might think.
Man, reading these I am wondering why my McDonald’s was so boring.
We didn’t spit on anything, the stuff that needed to be kept clean was kept clean (if it wasn’t required it would be filthy).
The ice cream machine worked fine, food wasn’t undercooked (on occasion it was over cooked).
Employing High school kids of course they are gonna make some mistakes, but nothing too bad.
The big mac is just a double cheese burger with 1000 island dressing, lettuce and an extra piece of bread.
if you order a double add lettuce and big mac sauce, you get the same thing with less bread and cheaper price.
5. Good stories are the best.
My time wasn’t bad. We kept it clean, and no one I know ever tampered with the food.
But there was a lot of funny things that happened, so I have a lot of stories.
Example: one day, we had 10 minutes to close. It was myself off at close, the grill closer, the service closer, and the manager. Grill closer had on a head set, as he was praying no one else came in as he was very low on a few things and didn’t want to make more right before closing. This guy prided himself on having things done and being out the door within 10 minutes of closing (bosses loved him because other closers took up to an hour, and that meant paying them for up to an hour).
One thing to know: our headsets had two buttons. One talked to the other headset only, the other talked to the outside speaker. He had been playing a game where he was trying to make the service worker laugh while she was taking the orders. You probably see where this is going.
So a driver pulls up to the speaker. He orders a 20 piece nugget. Closer is pissed, and pushed the “talk to other headset” button and goes “man, fuck that stupid fucking order. Fuck!”
Except, of course, he hit the wrong button.
Needless to say, someone got a free 20 piece, and another free meal in the future, and grill members were banned from wearing headsets for a while after that.
6. It’s an important job.
I worked at McD in high school. This was the 90s. The store I worked at had incredibly high standards. I was taught proper customer service skills, how to de-escalate a situation, time management, cleaning skills, people skills and so much more. I thrived there bc I was lacking adult role models anywhere else in my life. My managers made sure I was caught up on my homework, helped me study, made sure I was eating-even though it was fast food it was better than no food. I made some of the best friends I’ve ever had and am still friends to this day. I can truthfully say working there saved my life in high school.
McDs has a very thorough training program for managers. I was fast tracked to management and at 18 they put me through Hamburger University (the McDs training site in Illinois). That was quite an experience.
I ended up leaving McDs at 19 to go be a young adult and try a new jobs.
I don’t have any “trade “ secrets to share really. I’ll just say this. Don’t knock the kids/people working fast food. Don’t make fun of them, laugh at them or make them feel bad. They are learning valuable skills that will serve them well later in life. They are doing what they can to earn money. They’re serving you the junk food you want while learning how to grow up to be a successful adult. Sure, not everyone fits this description, but more people do than you think.
7. Some great pro-tips.
Worked in one from 2000 to 2005
During this time, they changed the bacon. The new bacon isn’t as good.
During this time, they changed the shake mix. The new shake mix isn’t as good.
The shake machine works just fine, so long as someone remembers to fill it before it gets too empty and goes into automatic 90-minute self-clean mode. It also takes a VERY long time to start up, so if someone forgets, there’s no shakes for 30 minutes. This was never a problem for me – whenever I did opening shift, I’d kick off the coffee brewing for my team, then start up the shake machine for myself.
The chocolate chip cookies and McGriddles taste AMAZING if you eat fresh out of the oven. Always made an extra half tray for myself.
If you’re ordering a meal, say the size first (Large Number 1 with a Coke). Everyone knows that ordering the meal is cheaper than getting that same sandwich, fries, and drink individually, but here’s the secret: The POS has a button for the large #1 and a different button for the medium #1, then another menu for the drinks.
So if you say “I want a #1 with a Coke,” I can’t hit any buttons until I know the sizes of the meal (the size of the fries), and the size of the drink.
8. So many cool tidbits!
10 to 1 Burger patties. Every 10:1 is a tenth of a pound of beef. These go in most of the smaller burgers. A McDouble and a Big Mac have the same amount of beef to them. The difference between them is the Mac Sauce instead of ketchup and mustard, the middle bun, sesame seeds, and lettuce. The difference between a Double Cheeseburger and a McDouble is 1 slice of cheese.
McRibs are the messiest sandwich we had to make. In addition to cooking it, the McRibs stewed in their sauce in the Universal Heating Cabinet (UHC) until used. That required a special pair of tongs because it was pork and cross contamination applies to religious stuff as well. No matter how careful you were, you always made a mess.
Burrito mix came precooked and frozen. You wrapped a slice of cheese with the stuff and it was put in a “queuing oven” which was a glorified microwave until hot. That’s it. No real cooking done.
Breakfast breads was the easiest backend position during breakfast. Things just took time. McGriddle buns were baked frozen then thrown into the queuing oven to make them soft. Biscuits were queued then baked. Bagels and muffins were toasted.
McDonalds uses beef fat iirc for their fryers. When the oil was new, it was literally white until it got hot. A patch of sweet tea took 5 pounds of sugar for 5 gallons of tea. You can feel the cavities as you made it. Grilled Chicken took the longest to cook and was kinda a pain. Some breasts could be in the UHC for hours before finally tossed.
9. This is all very heartening.
For the one I worked at in high school.
Burgers are kept in a warming area for no more than 15 minutes then thrown out and new ones are made.
You get a free meal from anything except the salads. Meal is a sandwich, medium fries and a medium drink.
At the end of the night all the cooked meat is thrown out. If you want you can use it to make burgers and take them home with you.
Specific tools and grill section for cooking chicken vs beef to make sure they don’t cross for those customers who don’t eat beef. The Hindu coworkers were very vocal about this rule if you worked the grill.
10. Take this home to your own kitchen.
I can never forget working breakfast.
Those sandwiches need to be cheese, then meat, then egg.
If the cheese is next to the egg it makes the egg slip out.
11. Urban legends are just that.
anyone who says they messed with food was lying, unless it’s something boring like, “we left patties in the warmers too long”
One thing I was SHOCKED by (this was pre-internet forums being widely used so it was just info from people working there) was that no burgers are flipped. you put your 10:1 patties or 4:1 patties on the grill and hit a couple buttons and a second grill comes down and both sides are cooked for you. I loved scooping a big tower of them off the grill to plop into the warming trays.
Also I worked in one in the desert and sometimes our AC would crap out but only for the back!? so you’d be sweating over the stupid grill and your coworkers would be hiding in the freezer
12. This person had it DOWN.
I remember working the grill, it was a point of pride to get fast at it:
- grab a frozen stack of patties in each hand from the freezer on the right of the grills
- smack both down on the grill once at an angle to loosen them all
- double fist drop 10 on the right half the grill
- hit the cook button with your knee while you move the the left
- drop the last 10 on the grill
- knee the cook button but bring it a little higher to flip the tray holder open
- grab a fresh tray and slide that shit into the holder while turning around to grab a cloth
- start wiping down something because “if you have time to lean, you have time to clean”
- 41 seconds later those 20 patties are done
- grab the the bladed flipper and the magic plastic spatula that somehow doesn’t melt
- slide and stack 10 o to the flipper, not ever waiting for the grill lid to be fully lifted
- drop them into the tray while shifting left
- repeat with the remaining 10
- grab the tray and flip up the holder in one motion while turning away
- slide that MF into the heating cabinet
- walk the freezer to cool off and come back with a fry box as an excuse because they’ll need in anyway as the frontend crew never refill their fries.
It’s been 15 years since I worked there and I could still do it with my eyes closed. McDonalds trains their kitchen staff to be as efficient as a damn assembly line.
13. A small bonus.
Dehydrated onions, you put them in a metal thing and just add water
The thing is they still taste great! But I was shocked and happy that I didn’t have to go cut onions.
Those onions can be turned pink if you use hot water instead.
14. A nugget fairy.
not really a secret but when I’m on wrap (wrapping the food) n i get nuggets i might slip an extra 2-3 because i like the thought of someone getting hype over an extra nug or two.
I had a complaint once because they found 10 pieces of nuggets in their 9 piece nugget box.
They complained they didn’t have enough sauce for the extra nugget and demanded an extra sauce as well.
We were dumb founded.
15. I’ll take two.
Worked there in high school.
Found out that if you put the middle of a Big Mac bun in the fryer and then add soft serve and strawberry topping, it tastes like a funnel cake.
Custom creations were the best part of working there.
16. What was down there, though…?
The McDonald’s in my hometown had a basement.
I didn’t work there but on days where they had a shipment in, I’d watch them slide boxes down a slide that covered half the stairs while waiting in the drive through…
17. They get creative after hours.
Ice cream on top of a hot out the oven pie or cookie or cinnamon melt or brownie melt.
Or hot cakes. That shit was my jam.
I used to make quesadillas after close. The southwest mix and dressing was good for that.
We had taco Tuesdays sometimes, with in house toppings. Quarter meat, tomato, lettuce, cheese, tortillas, onions. I think the only thing brought in was the taco seasoning.
I’d scramble or sunnyside up the eggs for my break with the salt and pepper clicker meant for lunch meats and some cheese on top.
Not a “hack” but I miss the OG chicken select strips.
18. Too busy or too stunned?
My first day on the job I was told to be on the lookout for the elderly gentleman who would try to sneak around the counter and pour the entire coffee pot into his mug while everyone was too busy to stop him.
He showed up and I stared him down.
He didn’t get his coffee that day.
19. You never know what you’re gonna get.
I worked there when I was in high school. Not a secret, but I hadn’t known much about franchises before then.
I hadn’t realized that McDonald’s could vary quite a bit in quality and professionalism based on who the owners were and what type of management/workplace they set up. I worked at a really good one (with good management, I mean), but some are s*%t.
have 2 McDonald’s near me, both relatively same distance.
The one I usually go to is more crowded but I feel that the food is better prepared and the drinks taste right.
I’ve been to the other McDonald’s before, not as crowded, but the nuggets tend to have a stale texture and the coke has this weird bubble gum type aftertaste lol.
20. The parking lot is always hoppin’.
Depending on which one you work at, the parking lot is basically a meet-up for druggies/drug dealers and (at least where I was in New Mexico) people to meet up and have sex in their cars. As long as they kept their business to the middle of the night and didn’t cause any serious problems, we were told not to call the cops or make a fuss, mostly because they’d come in and buy food after their shenanigans.
Soda and mini pies were really popular with heroin addicts. What I later found out is that management was actually told to let it slide by corporate, since everyone higher up was aware of how much money the “night crowd” brought in. I got to see many, many drug deals.
I’m convinced I saw at least one arms deal, but I of course have no way of verifying that.
21. That’s a lot of sugar.
Former employee here. I found out that, when making 5 gallons of sweet tea, an entire 4-pound bag of sugar goes in.
Sandwiches with round egg use real, cracked eggs. Folded and scrambled come from packaged goods in the freezer or fridge.
I also had a manager that insisted more people purchase Filet O Fish when it’s raining out because they subconsciously associate the watery weather with fish. Anyway, he did some research by poring through sales of Filet O Fish for months and months and comparing it to weather data for each day. Turns out he found something like a 3% increase on rainy days and was very pleased with himself.
Edit: Wow, I will answer some of your questions up here so people can see. The manager voiced his theory one day, and the crews all argued with him about it. This went on for a while. He was committed to proving us wrong, so he secretly pulled the sales numbers at work and did the rest on his own time, never breathing a word until he brought his printed report in to shut us all up.
He did separate Fridays during Lent and compared those days to each other in anticipation of having holes poked in his research. We still did that anyway, of course. As pointless and imperfect as the research was, it was impressive to see his commitment to giving us the middle finger!
22. An upgrade? Really?
Before I worked there , I always thought they used a grill . Turns its more of a heated press machine.
It used to be a grill. Upgrades.
23. That is unacceptable, sir.
My manager used to be on my back all of the time for ‘giving out too much sauce’.
He tried telling me the limit is one per meal.
24. It can be a messy job.
Drop any unopened chicken nugget sauce on the ground once — you’ve got yourself a sauce grenade.
Trash compactor can make for some fun explosions too. We had a volpack of ketchup that needed tossed for whatever reason, someone didn’t realize it shouldn’t go into the compactor. I go back after hearing a bang and a scream, dude is just caked in ketchup and it shot up out of the barrel of the manual compactor and painted the wall, ceiling, and bun rack.
They have since taken away the volpacks.
25. I find this hard to believe.
The official deodorizing spray they gave us is the most pleasant thing I’ve ever smelled in my entire life.
Even now, I wish I could smell it again.
26. The little things you learn.
The pickles are surprisingly aerodynamic. They stick to walls and (if you have the stones) managers shirts pretty well.
Yeah, they fly amazing. Pretty sure me and my old crew cost that store about $1k the entire time we worked there just throwing them things…
27. Who hasn’t heard that one too many times in their life?
I learned that if I have time to lean, I have time to clean.
28. Efficiency wins.
Sauces for sandwiches have the craziest dispensers.
Ketchup and mustard are in these really rudimentary plastic funnel things that have a paddle in the handle, when you squeeze it gravity pushes just the right amount of sauce through holes.
Doesn’t seem like it’d work well but it does if you apply the proper amount of jigglin.
The Mac sauce, mayo, and tartar though, they’re in basically caulk tubes that get loaded into basically caulk guns. You pull the trigger on the handle and a reeeeaally satisfying ratchety clanking delivers a powerfully saucy surprise for the awaiting buns. Problem is, it takes a bit of finesse because if you hit that trigger too hard you’ll blow the bun and the wad of creme right through the condiment station and onto the wall 8 feet away.
No joke, the first couple tarter splurts of a fresh tube came out so hot I’d fire a shot or two in the trash to avoid premature splatulation during the lunch rush. The first salvo, properly elevated and adjusted for wind, could clear the whole kitchen and take out the McInfantry on the cash register.
29. Seriously, a nightmare.
I worked at McDonalds when they first introduced sweet tea and remember that it was brewed in a large bucket mixing hot water with a full bag of granulated sugar.
It makes me sick to think about but I still sometimes crave that disgustingly sweet tasty garbage.
30. The customers are the best part.
Cool story. I worked there in my teens for a couple years. Actually worked at 2 different locations so i saw the difference in standards.
At one store there was a guy who always rode his bike to the store every single day to hangout. He was on the spectrum …”slow” and McDonalds was kind of his castle. Everyone knew him and he got a lot of free food from the employees. He was a daily part of the shift for us.
Anyway, one day he had one too many root beers. (This was a thing he normally did) because he pretended the root beers were like real beers and he would get drunk. Everyone kind of would go along with it because he was funny and never did anything to wild. Unfortunately this day he took it a little too far and ended up in the parking lot throwing bottles at cars driving by.
Long story short. Guy was arrested and he was banned from that McDonalds for life. Kinda felt bad about it because that McDonalds was his favorite place to be. He would pull thru at 3 or 4 on his bike and stay and hang out with employees until like 8. Every. Single. Day. Before that incident one of the managers even made him his own little parking spot for his bicycle, he was happy as hell.
I think about that guy sometimes. Hope he’s found himself a new McDonalds.
I don’t know how to feel about some of these!
If you’ve ever worked at McDonald’s, do these ring true? Do you have more? We want to hear them in the comments!