We’ve all been lectured by nutrition-minded friends about fast food, but when someone who has actually worked in the industry tells you to avoid something, it’s probably wise to heed that advice. And, through one reddit thread, many current and former fast food employees have leaked just such intelligence. Here’s what they say you should never order.
20. Dunkin’ Donuts – Frozen Coffee Coolattas
Donuts are, obviously, covered in sugar, but they’re reportedly not even the most sugary thing on Dunkin’ Donuts’ menu. Yes, its frozen coffee “Coolattas” are apparently loaded with sugar too. Indeed, a large one has 141 grams of the white stuff. But to make it worse, redditor 883Guy claimed that they’re “18 percent cream if you get a coffee one or vanilla bean.”
19. Cookout – chicken strips
Chicken strips are probably one of the most popular items on the Cookout menu, and they’re about to be ruined for you (sorry). According to former Cookout staffer CDC_, the strips take so long to cook that during busy stretches “people would pull them out of the fryers early and just throw them onto a tray. People brought them back for being undercooked all the time. Which tells me, lots of people were probably not paying attention and just stuffing them, half raw, into their facehole.”
18. Five Guys – bacon
Five Guys loves to talk about the quality of its beef and potatoes, but what about the bacon? Well, the quality might not be the issue. According to where_is_my_mind92, the bacon that was cooked in the morning is served right through into the evening. And to make matters worse, said the redditor, “We also kept it on a low shelf… so many times when we were cleaning the floor or mopping, the bacon would get covered with floor water.”
17. Applebee’s – oriental chicken salad
If you go into an Applebee’s in the hopes of finding a healthy option, you should probably just leave. But what you definitely shouldn’t do is opt for the oriental chicken salad. As one staff member put it, “It’s actually one of the most high-calorie items on the menu.” How high? Well, apparently it’s 1,240 calories and 77 grams of fat high. That’s equivalent to two and a half Big Macs.
16. Burger King – veggie burger
Grilled chicken and veggie burgers are perhaps some of the least popular items on the Burger King menu, and that’s precisely why you shouldn’t get them. Former employee matt_452 claimed, “They sit for hours (literally) and they become horrible dried out garbage.” Best stick to the actual burgers, then.
15. Dairy Queen – iced coffee
You can get an iced coffee of some description almost anywhere now, but one place to avoid is Dairy Queen. Apparently, it uses a “frappe mix” to make it. However, in the words of flacocaradeperro, “That mix smells horribly and in most stores is quite old, never leaving the machine. After a couple of days, it smells HORRIBLY BAD.”
14. KFC – beans and corn
Gravy is an incredibly popular side that KFC offers, but beans and corn are also viable options. Well, viable might be a bit generous. Once again, it’s an issue of how long they’ve been sitting there. Three-year KFC veteran L1ghterfeul said that they are “usually very very old. The timestamps were just changed every time one was coming to the end.”
13. Subway – tuna
It’s hard not to wonder exactly how long all the different components have been sitting there in the open air. In Subway’s case, tuna is perhaps the worst offender. DeweyCheatamandHowe claimed, disturbingly, “It just sits there all day, collecting whatever falls into it during lunch rushes such as crumbs, cheese, hair, etc.”
12. IKEA – pretty much everything
If you’ve ever been to an IKEA (and managed to find your way back out again), you’ll know that there’s a place to eat inside. The meatballs border on legendary, but how fresh is it all? “Literally all of the food that’s served hot comes frozen in sealed plastic bags that are then dropped in boiling water to heat them up. [Once] the bag is cut open… the food is dumped into a tray and put out on the serving line.” Well, at least it doesn’t come in flat packs.
11. Pizza Hut – pan pizza
It’s no secret that pan pizzas are worse for you than thin ones. But when it comes to Pizza Hut, you might as well be drinking from a vat of oil. “We squirt about two pumps of straight oil into every pan pizza and breadsticks. It’s so disgusting,” claimed cranimhead2. Next time you go to Pizza Hut, maybe bring a pair of gloves.
10. Wendy’s – chili
Given that proper chili is meant to be made using fresh meat, it’s hard to trust any chili from any fast food outlet. Still, a deleted redditor, formerly married to a Wendy’s employee, had some interesting insights into how Wendy’s make it. Basically, they said, if you eat Wendy’s chili “you are eating unused hamburger patties that have sat around for hours on end in a white five gallon bucket in a hot ass kitchen.” At least it’s recycling?
9. McDonald’s – anything with bacon
You knew Mickey D’s would make an appearance eventually, and once again it’s the bacon’s fault. If you’re going in for breakfast, you’re golden. But anytime after that is much more risky. Former employee Pandas_panic recalled that they would “make a few trays at breakfast. Maybe one or two more at lunch, and that’s it for the day.” Translation: any bacon you get in the evening has been sitting there for hours.
8. Papa John’s – anchovies
Yes, lots of fast food places will leave food sitting out pretty much all day if it doesn’t get ordered quickly enough. It’s pretty bad, but if you get anchovies from Papa John’s, you’re in for a worse fate than actually getting anchovies on your pizza. One ex-employee claims that any anchovies ordered have likely “been sitting in the walk in for at least a month.” Let’s hope they are salted.
7. Subway – guacamole
You would think that anything with avocado in it would be a pretty healthy/safe option, even in somewhere like Subway. Sadly, this doesn’t appear to be the case. Former sandwich artist SolariaSolacium413 reported, “The guac, is gross. Comes frozen, and takes a couple days to really turn brown. But if you stir it, it gets that bright green back.” That sounds to us like a curious science experiment.
6. Jimmy John’s – turkey and tuna
Jimmy John’s is one of the youngest fast food chains out there, having only been active for about 34 years. Sadly, though, it doesn’t seem to be any more well behaved than its forebears. Online redditor itsonlythreeyears reported that when slicing the turkey they’ve “seen pockets of preservatives that can be popped almost like pimples, for lack of a better analogy.” They also claim to have “pulled hair from the bucket of tuna” on “three separate occasions.” One is too many, really.
5. Dairy Queen – chicken strips
Yes, the infamous chicken strips strike again. In a practice reportedly similar to Cookout’s, these questionable chunks of poultry are made early in the day and then left to sit. Employee FantasyBloomed said, “By the time it’s noon, you’re gonna get the chicken that has been sitting in the middle of the bucket for four or more hours in a slightly warmer than room temperature room. In a bucket. Literally a paint bucket.”
4. Burger King – milkshakes
Some fast food joints offer some pretty outstanding milkshakes. Burger King is not one of them. But aside from just being fairly mediocre, the milkshakes are apparently birthed in some fairly unsanitary conditions. One reddit user reported that the machines the shakes are made in “are disgusting when you clean them out.”
3. Domino’s – sides
It can be tempting to bolster your pizza order with a few sides, if only to allow yourself a little reprieve between slices. But if it’s Domino’s you’re ordering from, you might want to reconsider. One employee claimed, “Most of it gets lathered in vegetable oil or “butter” as the GM calls it.” Add to that the observation that “it’s very common for employees to touch the food after it comes out of the oven,” and you’ve got a healthy/hygiene double threat.
2. Subway – cold meats
Oh, come on, Subway! That’s three strikes! So, we’ve heard about the tuna, but the cold meat options are seemingly even worse. One former staffer recalled how turkey, ham and other deli meats would “smell like rotten ass” coming out of the package. Another commented, “The smell is from the spice mix, plus you have a large amount of rework (ground up ends from the logs of meat) added back into the new material, so in theory part of the meat could be cycling through the process for months.”
1. McDonald’s – cheese
McDonald’s often leaps to defend its meat, but it rarely mentions the cheese. Still, that’s understandable when you look at the ingredients: sorbic acid, sodium pyrophosphate, sodium citrate and a few other chemical preservatives. One ex-employee said, “If you put that in an industrial microwave it becomes huge. It expands with heat.” Cheese isn’t really supposed to do that.