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50 Fast Food 'Facts' That Are Actually False

We've separated fact from fiction when it comes to 50 prevalent fast food myths.

Another day, another wild story about what's in our food. While we know the meals we grab at drive-thrus aren't health food, we shouldn't be so sure about other things fast-food related.

Are fried rats the next big thing at your favorite chain? Does your favorite eatery have a secret menu?

These 50 false fast food facts will help set the record straight, once and for all. And when you do hit the drive-thru, make your next indulgence less taxing on your waistline and your health by ordering one of the 20 Nutritionist-Approved Healthy Fast Food Orders.


Chicken McNuggets Are Made From Pink Slime

chicken nuggets
Courtesy of McDonald's

One long-reported rumor about McDonald's is that what they've been calling chicken all these years is actually little more than a pink sludge that more closely resembles strawberry soft-serve than any bird. While the widely-circulated photo of said pink product was actually a food they served, it was mechanically-separated hamburger meat, not chicken, in the photo. And while McDonald's was using mechanically-separated chicken for some time, it's been using exclusively white meat chicken since 2003. Before you pick your next Micky D's meal, make sure to check out our rundown of Every Menu Item at McDonald's—Ranked!


In-N-Out Has a Secret Menu

In-N-Out Burger sign

Whether you like your fries animal style, you can't resist a double-double, or you love feeling like you're shaving off a few calories by ordering protein-style, the In-N-Out Menu is a popular subject among the brand's many devotees. However, there's one secret they won't tell you: that menu isn't secret at all. That's right, all those secret menu options are listed right on their website.


KFC Breeds Six-Legged Chickens

KFC chicken

What's scarier than a spider? A clucking, squawking spider that somehow made its way into your food. While myths about KFC making scary six-legged chickens have been circulated for years, the company categorically denies the presence of any mutant birds in their food. In fact, the brand proudly touts its GMO-free status. How healthy is your favorite fast food? It might be better for you than you think if it comes from one of the 20 Fast Food Chains That Will Make You Slim!


McDonald's Ice Cream Has Pig Fat in It


McDonald's ice cream is certainly rich and creamy, but is the source of its deliciousness actually pig fat? While some creative individual came up with the notion that McDonald's ice cream is so delicious because it's practically a ham smoothie, the company says otherwise.


Starbucks' Green Cups Are Part of the War on Christmas

Starbucks cup

Starbucks' red holiday cups have become icons in their own right—in fact, they're so beloved among certain customers that the company faced serious backlash when they decided to try out green holiday cups in their place. Starbucks was accused of being just the latest company to contribute to the war on Christmas, which, for the record, is not a real thing. The most ironic part about these somehow divisive drink holders? The green cups were meant to promote unity.


Chipotle Has a Secret Menu

Chipotle burritos

Chipotle customers may be veritable fonts of information about the company, rattling off facts about their commitment to ethically-sourced food, their treatment of workers, and all the ways to hack your burrito, but if anyone tells you the chain has a secret menu, they're mistaken. While it is true that Chipotle will make you the outrageous Tex-Mex creations you're dreaming of with the ingredients they have on hand, there's no secret handshake or password for this club; if they have the stuff to assemble it, you can order it.


Popeyes' Special Batter Contains Drugs

Popeyes sandwich
Courtesy of Popeye's

Popeyes chicken certainly is addictive, but there's nothing more potent in their recipe than herbs and spices, despite what some people might have you believe. Although there were reports of a Popeyes manager lacing his birds with blow, you can rest assured that it was just a rumor and that your chicken tenders will be cocaine-free.


McDonald's French Fries Are Vegan

McDonald's fries
Courtesy of McDonald's

It's always amazing what turns out to be vegan, from Oreos to BacOs salad toppings. However, if you've been one of the countless people assuming that McDonald's fries are vegan, you're in for a rude awakening. While McDonald's did stop using beef tallow in their fry recipe, they still contain hydrolyzed milk, making them a no-go for any strict vegans out there.


Pumpkin Spice Lattes Are Essentially Poison

Pumpkin spice latte

If you're a PSL lover, you've probably heard the rumor that your beloved fall drink is essentially a big ol' cup of poison. While popular blogger Food Babe has critiqued the drink, citing issues like its lack of pumpkin, its "ambiguous natural flavors" and "possible pesticide residue," odds are the only thing this drink puts you at risk for is a sugar crash and some weight gain if you're indulging on a regular basis. When you go on your next latte run, opt for one of the 28 Starbucks Items That Diet Experts Love!


McDonald's Food Won't Decay

McDonalds hamburger

While most meals from McDonald's aren't exactly nutritionist-approved, the rumors that their food never rots are exaggerated, to say the least. Although various individuals have come forward claiming that their ancient Micky D's burgers are aging better than Helen Mirren, a test of this myth done by Serious Eats reveals that McDonald's burgers do, in fact, go bad, and they have all the moldy pictures to prove it.


Cold Stone Ice Cream Won't Melt

Cold Stone

Cold Stone ice cream is many things, including delicious, creative, and highly-caloric. However, un-meltable it isn't. While, at one point, the ice cream company teamed up with JELL-O to create a pudding-based ice cream that didn't liquify the way a traditional ice cream would, make no mistake that a cup of Cold Stone and a hot day don't mix.


Hawaiian Pizza Was Created in Hawaii

Hawaiian pizza

If it's called Hawaiian pizza, it must come from Hawaii, right? Not even close. In fact, this clever creation (or horrible food monstrosity, depending on your palate) was created in Canada.


Wendy's Chili is Made From Grill Scrapings

Wendy's exterior

The myth that Wendy's chili is just the gunk scraped off the grill that's then reconstituted has plagued many a fast food fan. The good news? Wendy's employees confirm that the chili is actually made from burgers that have gotten a bit overcooked. At least they're cutting down on food waste, right?


McDonald's Apple Pies Aren't Made From Apples

Apple pie
Courtesy of McDonald's

McDonald's apple pie is as American as… chayote? While there are persistent rumors about McDonald's apple pies being made from this gourd-like plant, potatoes, or even turnips, the company insists that the fruit in your pie is nothing other than delicious Granny Smith apples.


Taco Bell Meat is Graded the Same as Dog Food

Taco Bell taco

Are you no longer craving that chalupa after hearing the one about Taco Bell's meat being the same quality grade as dog food? Well, you can rest easy: not only are dog food and human food held to different standards (sorry, Fido), Taco Bell has addressed the rumors, insisting that their meat is little more than ground beef, oats, spices, and thickeners.


McDonald's Burgers Use Worms as Filler

Big Mac
Courtesy of McDonald's

Although multiple customers have reported finding worms in their McDonald's food, those wiggly little guys have never been a restaurant-sanctioned part of any meal. It's unclear how the rumor about McDonald's making worm burgers started, but it has been thoroughly debunked since.


Starbucks Has a Secret Menu

Starbucks Coffee

Just because that Frappuccino tastes just like a cinnamon bun or a slice of pizza doesn't mean it's on a secret menu somewhere. While the legend of the Starbucks secret menu is still passed around, the truth is that baristas will just make you pretty much whatever you want.


KFC Was Rebranded Because it Doesn't Contain Chicken


KFC used to be called Kentucky Fried Chicken, but the name change wasn't the result of a lack of chicken in their food. Although the myth of chicken-free KFC still abounds to this day, the company is insistent that their food absolutely contains the poultry it purports to.


Starbucks Bakes Its Pastries In-House

Starbucks muffin

There's nothing better than grabbing a cup of coffee and your favorite Starbucks pastry. Unfortunately, those who believe that those pastries are lovingly made by Starbucks staffers each day are in for a rude awakening: they're actually sent over frozen from a distributor.


McDonald's Burgers Contain Eyeballs

McDonalds burger

Are those McDonald's burgers 100 percent beef eyeballs? Although come creative individual started the rumor that McDonald's uses cow eyeballs in their burgers, the chain has issued numerous denials. And as for that supposed fact that the company only says their burgers are 100% beef because their supplier's name is 100% Beef? Totally bogus.


Taco Bell Serves Horse Meat

Taco Bell burrito

If you're worried that you could be noshing on Seabiscuit the next time you eat at Taco Bell, take a deep breath. While it is true that traces of horse meat were found in Taco Bell meals from Britain, this could have been cross-contamination from where the meat was processed, and the issue doesn't seem to have crossed the pond. And the next time you go to order a burrito, make sure you've checked out Every Menu Item at Taco Bell—Ranked!


Popeyes Served a Rat Head

Popeyes chicken

Popeyes isn't serving up Louisiana-style rats, despite what you may have heard. While one customer reported finding a rat head in her meal, Popeyes issued a statement claiming the so-called rat was likely a piece of chicken organ meat that inadvertently got mixed in with the meal.


Starbucks Won't Sell Coffee to the Military

Starbucks Frappuccino

You may support the troops, but does Starbucks? A persistent rumor claims that Starbucks refused to provide free water to service members in Iraq, telling them that they would not support the war or anyone who participated in it. However, the person who wrote the initial email that started this rumor has since retracted his statement about the company, and Starbucks has issued a vehement denial of this behavior.


McDonald's Owns Chipotle

Chipotle sign

Don't worry, Chipotle lovers, your beloved barbacoa isn't a McDonald's product. While McDonald's was once the company's majority shareholder, the burger giant cut ties with Chipotle in 2006, claiming that it took away from the brand's identity. Before you order your next burrito bowl, discover these 30 Secrets From Chipotle Employees!


Jack in the Box Serves Kangaroo Meat

Jack in the Box

Jack-in-the-Box's burgers are many things, but kangaroos, they ain't. While Australian-exported kangaroo meat was once found at a Jack-in-the-Box supplier in San Diego, there's no conclusive proof any customers were ever served it.


IHOP Omelettes Are Low-Carb

IHOP sign

When you're on a low-carb diet, eggs are bound to be a major part of your plan. However, IHOP customers shouldn't rely on the chain's breakfast dishes to keep them slim. Not only are IHOP's omelettes extremely high in calories, the company confirms that they add pancake batter to their recipe to keep their eggs nice and fluffy.


In-N-Out is Setting Up Shop in NYC

In-N-Out Burger
Courtesy of In-N-Out

New York City may seem to have anything, but don't hold your breath for an In-N-Out. Despite signs saying that an In-N-Out would be opening in Manhattan, it turned out to be a prank for a CollegeHumor video. The chain has since confirmed that they have no intention of leaving their West Coast and Southwest territories.


Arby's Stands For Roast Beef


While some Twitter sleuth determined that Arby's must be the phonetic spelling of the initials of its most popular dish, roast beef, that assumption couldn't have been more off the mark. In fact, the company is named after the Raffel Brothers who founded it.


Starbucks Funds the Israeli Army

Starbucks Frappuccino

Your Frappuccino purchase isn't funding the Israeli army, no matter what your friends told you. While many have heard the rumors about Starbucks sending money to the Israeli army, the company denies that they've ever done so.


Wendy's Burgers Are Square Because They're Easier to Ship

Wendy's burger

A flat, square burger does seem easy to ship, but that's not why Wendy's patties are shaped that way. Wendy's uses square burgers for two reasons: the aesthetic appeal of a burger that extends slightly past the bun, and founder Dave Thomas' favorite joke, in which he insisted that the company never cut corners. When you're ready to enjoy a better burger, pick from our list of 20 Popular Fast Food Burgers—Ranked!


KFC Once Served a Customer a Rat


Fried rats are a popular fast food urban legend, but much like Popeyes, KFC never served one to a customer. While a customer was once served something resembling a rat that had been breaded and fried, lab tests confirmed that the supposed rat was actually just an unfortunately-shaped piece of chicken.


Starbucks is Named After Its Founder


Who was Starbuck? A coffee magnate? A woman who just loved pumpkin spice? A connoisseur of cake pops? None of the above. It's actually a reference to the chief mate on the ship in Melville's Moby Dick.


McDonald's Breakfast Sandwiches Don't Contain Real Eggs

Egg McMuffin
Courtesy of McDonald's

It's hard to believe that anybody could make eggs as perfectly hockey-puck-shaped as they do at McDonald's, but that doesn't mean your Egg McMuffin is a lie. In fact, one Redditor confirms that not only does McDonald's use real eggs, the company often buys them from local organic farms.


Wendy's Chili Comes With a Side of Fingers

Wendy's sign

What do you like in your chili: cheese, sour cream, or fingers? While one unsatisfied Wendy's customer claimed that a human finger made its way into her chili, it turned out that the woman who found it had actually procured said digit from a friend, cooked it up, and stuck it in her food to try to milk the chain for major cash.


Cold Stone Wanted a Creative Birthday Song to Match Their Creative Flavors

Cold Stone

Cold Stone's famous birthday cheer isn't just another whimsical touch from the fast food chain that's willing to mix gummy bears right into your ice cream. In fact, the real reason Cold Stone won't sing you Happy Birthday is that the song is copyrighted, and who needs a legal headache to go along with the one they just got from their Birthday Cake Remix?


Tim Hortons Muffins Are a Healthy Choice

Tim Hortons

If you think that steering clear of the frosted pastries at Tim Hortons will help keep you healthy, think again. While the chain's donuts may look more decadent, their muffins are actually the ones tipping the scales in the calorie department. One whole grain carrot orange muffin has 350 calories, 11 grams of fat, and 26 grams of sugar, while a Boston creme donut has just 220 calories, 6 grams fat, and 13 grams sugar.


KFC Has Bred Headless Birds

KFC meal
Courtesy of KFC

Don't lose your head over the rumors that KFC is breeding birds that are all body and no brain. While it's unclear where the rumor about KFC's headless chickens started, the chain has denied that they've ever created poultry with nothing north of the neck.


McDonald's Funds Terrorism

McDonald's cup

Does that burger come with a side of bullets? In the late 1980s, rumors swirled about McDonald's contributing money to the Irish Republican Army, a group responsible for numerous bombings in the UK. However, it turned out that the rumor was based on talk of McDonald's contributing to employees' individual retirement accounts, or IRAs.


Papa John's Pizza Crust is Buttered

Papa John's

That buttery crust on a Papa John's pizza may have made it seem like a no-go for most vegans, but in fact, the chain has a surprising number of vegan options. Not only is the chain's crust vegan, so are many of its dipping sauces, including the buttery garlic sauce.


Starbucks Employees Try to Spell Your Name Wrong

Starbucks cup

If you've ever told a Starbucks employee your name is Kate, only to see Cthulhu on your cup, you're not alone. While one Redditor admits to spelling names wrong out of boredom, many others insist that it's simply difficult to tell what customers are saying over the screech of an espresso machine and that world music album blasting over the shop's speakers.


Colonel Sanders Was Invented to Sell Chicken

Colonel Sanders

Colonel Sanders is a beloved fast food icon, but rumor has it he's about as real as Ronald McDonald. For those disturbed by this accusation, you can breathe easy: not only was he a real person, he was an army vet and was appointed a colonel in his native Kentucky.


White Castle Makes Fake Onions

White Castle exterior

Rumor has it that those onions on your White Castle burger aren't what they seem. A persistent myth about this popular chain is that their onions are little more than pieces of cabbage soaked in onion juice. Not only does this hardly make sense from a financial perspective (onions aren't exactly pricey, and juicing them seems unbelievably time consuming), anyone who has ever seen or tasted an onion can be pretty sure that this one isn't true.


McDonald's Shelled Out a Million Dollars Over a Spilled Drink

McDonalds coffee

We've all heard about the McDonald's coffee lawsuit, but the case is more complicated than you might think. While rumor has it that the chain paid out a million bucks to a woman who poured coffee in her lap and sued frivolously, the truth is far more disturbing: the 79-year-old customer had third-degree burns necessitating skin grafts from a cup of coffee that was over 190 degrees, about 60 degrees above what many experts consider dangerous. While a million dollars over what amounts to a little dry cleaning bill would be a lot, this woman was seriously injured and got some serious compensation for it.


Tim Hortons Coffee Has Nicotine in It

Tim Hortons coffee

If you can't stop drinking Tim Hortons coffee, it's probably because you like it, but not because it's loaded with nicotine. While the origin of this rumor is uncertain, one thing is for sure: the only buzz you'll get from a cup of Tim Hortons coffee is from the caffeine.


A Customer Found a Bird Head in Her McDonald's Chicken

McDonalds chicken nugget

A woman in Newport News, Virginia once claimed that her chicken wings came with a fully fried chicken head. While there are plenty of photos of the unwanted poultry surprise on the internet, there's no definitive proof that the head wasn't planted, and no record of a lawsuit against the company for serving up bird brains.


New York City Has the Most Starbucks Locations

Starbucks sign

It's often said that there's a Starbucks on every corner in Manhattan, but the city doesn't actually hold the record for the most Starbucks: that honor actually goes to Seoul, South Korea, which has 284 to NYC's 277. Ditch those sugary drinks and make every Starbucks order healthier by discovering the 20 Easy Ways to Stay Slim at Any Coffee Shop!


Chipotle's Menu is 100% GMO-Free

Chipotle food

While Chipotle prides itself on its fresh food, not everything on the menu is entirely GMO free.  Not only do some of the sodas on Chipotle's menu contain GMO corn syrup, a recent lawsuit claimed that the company uses meat from animals given GMO feed.


McDonald's Creates Mutant Animals

McDonalds Bag

KFC isn't the only chain accused of creating mutant animals: the same has been said about McDonald's. The good news? All this talk of mutant meat was little more than the fanciful creation of an email hoaxter.


KFC Served a Customer Maggots

KFC meal

Your KFC meal may come with dipping sauce, but it's unlikely you'll get a side of maggots. While an Arkansas customer claimed that their meal was infested with maggots, there's no proof that any contamination happened in-store; what's more, the hot oil used to fry the chicken would have killed any larvae or eggs.


Your Domino's Pizza Was Cooked Inside a Car

Domino's pizza

That Domino's pizza may still be piping hot when it gets to your house, but don't worry, that doesn't mean it was prepared in the car it arrived in. While Domino's has been hard at work creating the DXP, a delivery vehicle with an oven in back, the oven only goes up to 140 degrees, keeping your pizza toasty, but not cooking it for you. Make your next indulgence worthwhile by choosing one of these 20 Surprisingly Healthy Fast Food Orders!

Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more about Sarah
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