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9 Secrets About Shake Shack That Might Surprise You

Wait, did you just say peanut butter bacon burger?

West coasters may have In-n-Out, but out East, we have Shake Shack. Sure, there are Shake Shack locations sprinkled throughout the country, unlike its West Coast competitor. But the tri-state area contains the highest number of locations, and most are within New York City where it was founded. Starting as a humble kiosk located in Madison Square Park, this restaurant's popularity quickly exploded, becoming a go-to burger chain for millions of customers across America.

But did you know that the famous Shake Shack actually started out as a hot dog cart? And that you can actually order a burger with four patties on it? Here are the secrets you may not know about this beloved chain, even if you claim to be a die-hard fan.

The hidden Shake Shack sauce ingredient is…pickle juice!

shake shack burger

The creamy orange sauce on a Shake Shack burger is primarily mayonnaise and ketchup—with a little added pizazz. Along with a dash of cayenne and a dollop of mustard, the tanginess of the Shake Shack sauce actually comes from pickle juice. Because the classic ShackBurger is not served with pickles, the dash of juice in the sauce gives it that extra something-something to balance out the cheesy burger patty and fresh veggies.

Here's how to make your own Copycat Shake Shack Sauce at home.

They have the best-tasting fast food fries.

shake shack fries
Courtesy of Shake Shack

Yes, we know that Shake Shack's fries are famously known to be crinkle-cut, which aren't exactly a popular choice for french fry connoisseurs. However, after doing a taste test of our own, we concluded that Shake Shack truly does offer the best-tasting french fries on the fast food market. Plus, when you consider the fact that Shake Shack spent $1 million experimenting on different fresh-cut styles, it's no wonder the company is known for serving up perfectly crispy, golden fries.

Shake Shack started off as a hot dog cart.


Before claiming its iconic residence in Madison Square Park, Shake Shack was actually a small hot dog cart funded by Danny Meyer, a restauranter and CEO of the Union Square Hospitality Group. According to Adweek, the park was known for being a "dump" in 1999, close to one of Meyer's critically-acclaimed restaurants Eleven Madison Park. The hot dog cart served as a fundraiser but soon transformed into a freestanding kiosk called Shake Shack in 2004.

You can DIY a coveted peanut butter bacon burger.

shake shack black truffle
Courtesy of Shake Shack

Yes, it's a thing! According to Shake Shack's official cookbook, the chain actually experimented with a peanut butter bacon burger and served it twice during the restaurant's history. Although it's not listed as a menu item, customers can easily replicate the creamy, salty creation by ordering a Bacon Cheeseburger and a side of peanut butter. Drizzle the peanut butter on your bacon and top with the bun.

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The menu almost included a tuna burger.

shake shack
Shake Shack/ Facebook

In the early days of Shake Shack when the team was spitballing ideas for a menu, one of the prime selections was going to be a tuna burger. However, while some suggestions did make it—like the mushroom burger with cheese, now known as the 'Shroom Burger—the tuna burger was nixed from the original plan.

You can order any burger "protein style."

shake shack lettuce wrap
Courtesy of Shake Shake on Facebook

If you would like to keep your meal low-carb, you can choose to get any sandwich "protein style," meaning the burger bun is swapped out with a lettuce wrap. It's perfect for keto and paleo-friendly eaters.

Here are The Best Secret Menu Options at Your Favorite Fast-Food Chains.

They use high-quality beef.

shake shack cheeseburgers
Shake Shack / Facebook

According to Shake Shack's website, the chain states its U.S. Animal Welfare Policy which informs customers they are using beef with no antibiotics, hormones, or animal by-products within the feed. The chicken and pork also do not contain antibiotics, and Shake Shack also uses cage-free eggs.

Along with Shake Shack, here are 8 Fast-Food Chains That Use the Highest Quality Meat.

They tried (and failed) launching a root beer float flavored custard.

shake shack brownie batter hot cocoa shake
Shake Shack / Facebook

Carla Lalli Music, a chef and former food director at Bon Appétit, served as Shake Shack's first-ever general manager and recounts the vigorous taste tests during the restaurant's first year of business—which included tasting a root beer float-flavored custard. Although she expressed her desire for this particular custard to catch on, after attempting to launch this flavor at their original Madison Park location, it seems the rest of the public didn't exactly agree. The custard was soon cut from the menu.

If you really want a burger, get the Quad Burger.

shake shack burger

If you're really looking to go all out on your Shake Shack experience, then order a Quad. It's exactly how it sounds—four patties with cheese with the usual fixings smashed between a bun. It's the kind of burger you order when you're extra hungry—or want to show off on Instagram.

Kiersten Hickman
Kiersten Hickman is a freelance health and nutrition journalist. Read more about Kiersten