15 McDonald’s Secrets You Should Know

Everyone knows that McDonald’s is great for a cheap, easy meal. But did you know these 15 fun facts?
Updated May 2, 2024
Fact checked
McDonald's at Changi International Airport

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It’s no secret that McDonald’s is massively popular both in the U.S. and around the world. Reports estimate the fast-food giant sells several million burgers every day, and billions every year.

You would be hard-pressed to find an American who doesn’t indulge in a little McDonald’s every now and then. You can get a great meal there while saving a little money and boosting your bank account.

But like other fast-food giants, McDonald’s has secrets that only former employees know. Here are 15 facts you should know about the famous restaurant chain.

Drive-thru workers can hear everything

Felix Mizioznikov/Adobe digital menu at a Mcdonalds drive through

You may think drive-thru workers won’t hear what you’re discussing in your car until they greet you through the speaker, but you would be wrong.

According to former employees, the drive-thru box picks up everything from the moment you pull up until you drive away. So, if you’re having any sort of private conversation in the car, definitely pause it until you’re on your way to the pay window.

Fries with no salt are a pain

mehaniq41/Adobe McDonald's french fries in small paperbag on bright red background

According to former McDonald’s employees, making fries with no salt is a real pain — sometimes literally, because it’s easy to burn yourself.

The process involves making fresh fries in boiling hot oil without touching those fries to the fry receptacle. It’s an arduous — and some say dangerous — process for employees.

The Big Mac sauce is easy to make

Наталия Кузина/Adobe hamburger menu in McDonald's restaurant

It’s a not-so-secret sauce that one former employee said is actually extremely simple to make. As tasty as Big Mac sauce is, all you need is “Thousand island” dressing, pickles, and onions to make it. 

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The ice cream machine really is always broken

wachiwit/Adobe man holding McDonald's vanilla cone

Many of us have experienced the letdown when we head to our local McDonald’s only to learn that an ice cream cone is out of the question, as the machine is down yet again.

According to employees, the frozen dessert machines are extremely unreliable and prone to malfunctions. Since repairs take time, it’s common for the machines to be out of commission for a day or two.

McMuffins are made with real eggs

Eric BVD/Adobe egg mcmuffin ad on the side of McDonalds truck

There are all sorts of rumors about the animal products that make their way into McDonald’s menu items. But if you’re ordering an Egg McMuffin, you can rest easy knowing you are actually getting a real egg.

Employees are able to get eggs so perfectly round by breaking them over a special ring shape on the grill.

You can swap out any sauce

YUTO PHOTOGRAPHER/Adobe hand holding a chicken nugget dipped in red sauce

Not a fan of Big Mac sauce? Don’t be afraid to request a swapping of the sauces the next time you visit McDonald’s. The employees should be able to easily swap out the sauce that comes with any sandwich.

24-hour restaurants may have cash-only hours

Jerome/Adobe McDonald's logo with its iconic M at night

If you’re heading to your local McDonald’s for a midnight snack, it might be a good idea to bring some extra cash.

Apparently, restaurants that are open for 24 hours are required to restart their system every night and may be unable to accept credit cards for a period of 30 to 90 minutes.

Burgers are 100% pure beef

Ocskay Mark/Adobe burger variations

There are plenty of rumors about what actually goes into a McDonald’s burger as well, with the “pink slime” claim being one of the most popular.

However, the popular chain assures customers that its beef patties are made from 100% pure beef. They are seasoned with only a pinch of salt and pepper, with no fillers, additives, or preservatives.

The hiring process is more complex than you might think

Nikolay N. Antonov/Adobe worker giving a tray with food in McDonald's restaurant

There are also rumors that just about anyone can get a job at the fast-food chain, but former employees say that’s simply not the case.

Some franchises may be more strict about who they hire than others. However, a general consensus is that restaurants are looking to hire people with a particular attitude and dedication to teamwork, as well as those with experience of some sort on their resumes.

Pro tip: If you don’t get a job at McDonald’s, remember to check out the many other ways you can make a little extra cash.

There’s no secret menu

Adriana/Adobe screen showing menu at the entrance of a local Mc Donalds restaurant

McDonald’s employees would like you to stop asking them about this one. It is not In-N-Out Burger and there are no popular off-menu items that you can order.

There are, however, different menu items based on where in the world you are when visiting McDonald’s — like poutine fries in Canada or a bacon roll in the UK.

It takes 40 seconds to cook a patty

Grafvision/Adobe chef cook frying meat

It’s called “fast food” for a reason. Apparently, McDonald’s patties can be tossed on the grill and cooked within 40 seconds — which probably explains how the chain is able to sell millions of its burgers every day.

In fact, an operations manual released years ago said McDonald’s sold 75 burgers every second — and a factory in Germany that is one of the biggest suppliers for the chain produces five million burgers every day.

Employees aren’t paid to clean up trash

radub85/Adobe Mcdonald's leftovers in fast food restaurant

McDonald’s doesn’t have the same setup as your local diner or pub, so don’t expect anyone to come to clean up after you.

It may be an unwritten rule, but people who dine inside McDonald’s restaurants are expected to gather up their trash afterward and toss it out themselves. This ensures workers can stay at the cash register or behind the grill to meet other customer needs.

Be wary of McRibs

Robson90/Adobe McDonald's McRib sandwich

If you’re going to order a McRib, you should do it right at the beginning of the promotion, when they are in highest demand, according to former employees. When McRibs are not selling well, they just sit in their sauce pot, possibly for hours on end.

Food freshness timers can’t always be trusted

gargantiopa/Adobe Person handing Mcdonald's bag through drive thru window

According to multiple accounts from former employees, many restaurants don’t do the best job abiding by their “freshness” timers.

Some McDonald’s locations may even encourage employees to ignore it when a timer goes off so that they don’t have to throw out older items.

The drive-thru may get you quicker service

rzoze19/Adobe McDonald's service the Drive Thru due to coronavirus

For many restaurants, you can score quicker service if you head for the drive-thru, especially during rush hour.

It’ll look bad for the restaurant if cars are backed up around the parking lot waiting in the drive-thru, so it makes sense to prioritize helping those customers first.

Bottom line

VTT Studio/Adobe McDonald mascot sits on bench

While those who are focused on their health may try their best to steer clear of the golden arches, McDonald’s remains an American staple. 

Swinging by the drive-thru is a great way to eliminate money stress by saving some cash on days where you just need quick, convenient food.

The next time you hit up your local McDonald’s, keep these staff secrets in mind so your experience stays fast, convenient, and delicious.

Author Details

Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore is a seasoned freelance writer who also teaches writing courses at Rutgers University. She's based in Jersey City and enjoys travel, live music and, of course, spending quality time with her pup.

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