For those perpetually on the go, it’s easy to turn a blind eye to the nutritional facts and indulge in a good old greasy fast food meal. Sometimes it’s out of convenience, sometimes it’s just because it’s too good to resist.
However, unless you’ve actually worked at a fast food establishment (the foundation of many resumés), there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes that you probably were not aware of.
Here are 12 secrets that fast food restaurant staff keep from the public.
1. Do you find your nose unintentionally veering you towards a fast food restaurant? It’s all part of the marketing strategy. Many establishments will make sure that the smell of the kitchen travels out to potential customers.
2. Ever notice that it’s cheaper to get a soda than a tea? Well, that’s because soda’s carbon dioxide stimulates the appetite and prompts people to buy more sodas because it’s not as hydrating.
3. Want to make sure your order of fries is as fresh as possible? Order them without salt. A batch of fries is salted right after they are cooked up, which means asking for unsalted fries would require the staff to make a new serving.
4. Most people will just say potatoes when they think of what makes up fast food restaurants, but they actually contain sometimes up to 20 ingredients. The reason fries are so tasty is due to a combination of extra ingredients, including additives, fats, and flavor enhancers.
5. One might think that heading to a fast food place the moment they open is the best time because everything has just been cleaned. However, the aggressive chemicals used makes it almost better to go a few hours after opening to make sure none is making its way to your meal.
6. The NHLBI (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) found that not only have fast food portion sizes increased, so has the number of calories. The cheeseburger, for example, was found to have 75% more calories compared to the burgers sold back in the 1980s.
7. Many fast food restaurants offer milkshakes on their menu, which may be tempting, but will also put you right over the norm of daily sugar consumption. A serving of milkshake contains around 3 oz of sugar where the American Heart Association recommends just over 1 oz.
8. You rarely come across cutlery at the bigger chain fast food places, which is because people tend to be more satisfied while eating when using their hands, and will eat more as a result.
9. Soda fountains are not the easiest to clean and you can never really be sure how much attention employees are dedicating to it. The sticky, sugary environment of these fountains make it a prime spot for bacteria, mold, and germs.
10. You might think the best time to go to a fast food place is when it’s not busy. However, the busy hours (between 11am and 1pm and 6pm and 8pm) are actually when you will get the freshest meal.
11. Duke University found that chains sway customers into buying larger sodas by increasing the amount of ounces in all of their size options. Many people will opt for medium because it’s in the middle, but the medium has become what used to be considered a large.
12. Think those grill marks on your patty are authentic? Think again. Most fast food burgers have their patties branded with grill marks at the factory with paint or dyes. Many places will also infuse the burger with smoke and char flavorings to add to the illusion.