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11 Controversial Secrets About McDonald's Menu Items

You're never believe how much sugar goes into the sweet tea.

Everyone has secrets and fast-food chains like McDonald's are no exception. In fact, it seems like the world's most popular fast-food chain has as many secrets as Regina George's hair.

Luckily for us, plenty of current and former McDonald's employees are more than happy to spill the tea (literally) on Reddit. From why you should avoid the apple pie to how to make sure you get the freshest fries and burgers, here are 12 secrets about McDonald's menu items. And for more, check out We Tried Every Burger at McDonald's & This Is the Best!


The Sweet Tea has a massive amount of sugar.

mcdonalds sweet tea

When a customer observed that McDonald's sweet tea "tastes like pure Splenda," a McDonald's employee confirmed there's a good reason for that.

"The recipe, at least in the states, calls for a five-pound bag of sugar for a five-gallon bucket," they shared.

So yes, there's a full pound of sugar in just one gallon of McDonald's sweet tea.

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There's a trick to getting fresh fries.

mcdonalds fries
Alexander Shcherbak/ TASS/ Getty Images

Many McDonald's customers love the fries. But it's been said that ordering the menu item can be a hit or miss, as sometimes, they taste as though they've been sitting out for too long.

A McDonald's cashier and cook said you can specifically ask for a fresh batch of fries. If you don't trust that you'll get them, there's a foolproof way to ensure your fries are fresh. "[J]ust ask for fries, no salt, then they will HAVE to make them fresh fries because the rest of the fries are salted," the employee shared. Then, you can just add the salt yourself.

RELATED: We Tried 7 Fast-Food Fries & These Are the Best!


McDonald's upcharges customers for certain ingredients.

mcdonalds big mac
Yu Chun Christopher Wong/S3studio/Getty Images

"You will be up-charged for certain ingredients," a former McDonald's employee shared.

As an example, they said that when a customer orders the "Poor Man's Big Mac" (a McDouble with Mac Sauce and shredded lettuce), they'll be charged 30 cents for the Mac Sauce and between 20 and 30 cents for the lettuce.

"However, if your burger has something on it you do not want, you can remove it and add something else similar FOR FREE," the employee noted. "Normally you'd have to pay 30 [cents] for ranch dressing like you would with Mac sauce, but since [a] burger comes with dressing on it I don't actually want, I can save money that way."

RELATED: 20 Biggest McDonald's Menu Disasters You Forgot About


You should always check the patties if you order a Double Quarter Pounder.

mcdonalds double quarter pounder

An employee shared a McDonald's "life hack." If you order a Double Quarter Pounder, always be sure to check to make sure there are actually two patties.

"About one out of three times you will be shorted a patty," the employee said. But wait, there's more! When they short you, you're entitled to a free apple pie.

"Apparently, the money they save on patties for those who don't check is worth the money they lose on apple pies for those who do," the employee speculated.

However, you may want to stay away from the apple pie (more on that in a moment).

RELATED: 7 Classic McDonald's Desserts That Deserve a Comeback


You might want to be wary of the Apple Pie.

mcdonald apple pie

When asked what we should never order at McDonald's, a cashier and cook named the apple pie as the worst offender.

"[W]hen they expire we just slap a new expiration date to it," they explained.

Big yikes!

RELATED: 15 Discontinued Fast-Food Desserts That Deserve a Comeback


You can return your food and get a refund.

mcdonalds value meal

A McDonald's employee responded to a Reddit user's question about whether or not the chain accepts returns on food.

It turns out the answer is yes, just as long as you have a receipt.


No, the milkshake machine isn't always being cleaned.

mcdonalds milkshake

Many customers had questions about the milkshake machine, noting that when they order milkshakes, they're often told the machine is being cleaned. So what's the real story?

A McDonald's cook clarified that the milkshake machine is cleaned once a week and the process takes about two to three hours. They said it's way more likely that you can't get your milkshake because the machine frequently goes into "freezer lock."

"[T]he ice cream machine can be a giant pain. If someone is not keeping an eye on the ice cream level and it gets too low, it goes into freezer lock," they explained. Typically, only a few managers know how to get the machine out of this freezer lock and, even if they're there, it takes hours to get the machine back up and running.

"Saying it's 'being cleaned' might just be a good excuse if that happens," the cook said.

RELATED: We Tasted 5 Fast-Food Chocolate Milkshakes & This Is the Best


Don't order breakfast foods in the evening.

mcdonalds breakfast
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Breakfast for dinner is appealing, but a McDonald's cook warned customers to stay away from breakfast items in the evening and nighttime.

"[A] lot of that stuff has been in a warmer all day unless we had to make fresh stuff due to having none," they explained.


Don't order McDonald's food unless it's busy.


No one wants to spend a ton of time waiting in line, but a former employee advised customers to "Never EVER eat at a McDonald's that isn't busy."

They went on to explain that during the lunch or dinner rush, you're most likely get fresh food.

"If you have to WAIT for nuggets (etc) to be cooked, it's a good thing," they said. "It means they didn't have enough laying in the bin to serve you and have to cook you more."

RELATED: Discontinued Menu Items You Forgot McDonald's Used to Serve


There's a way to get the freshest burger.

mcdonalds burger

When asked how to get the freshest burger, a McDonald's cook said the trick is to ask for a burger without salt or pepper.

"[T]hen they'll be forced to make a fresh one," they explained.

RELATED: We Tried 7 Fast-Food Cheeseburgers & This Is the Best


Cooks don't wear gloves in the kitchen.

mcdonalds workers

This definitely sounds unsanitary, but a McDonald's employee who has worked as a cashier, cook, and manager, explained the reasoning.

Rather than using gloves, the employee explained that there's a hand-wash system in place instead.

"Every hour, we take the time to send each employee to the sink station to wash their hands until every employee has," they said. "Using gloves would not be much more sanitary, because the bacteria that would build up on ungloved hands would also build up on the gloves if they weren't replaced every hour (or more) too."

The explanation seems to make sense, but we shudder to think about what goes on at McDonald's restaurants where managers aren't vigilant about the hand wash routine . . .

Read more secrets about your favorite restaurants:

11 Secrets Arby's Doesn't Want You to Know

10 Secrets Buffalo Wild Wings Doesn't Want You to Know

10 Secrets Chili's Doesn't Want You to Know


Caitlin Flynn
Caitlin Flynn is an award-winning writer and reporter who experienced early age corporate burnout in 2015 and traded New York City for the misty air and superior coffee of Seattle. Read more about Caitlin