18 Fast Food Myths That We’ve All Sadly Believed Our Whole Lives
Fast food is a huge topic of discussion, and it seems like that will never change. Despite the fact (or maybe because of the fact) that so many people eat it all the time, or at least some of the time, everyone has an opinion.
Some people are vehemently anti-fast food, refusing to ingest it at all and swearing it’s like poison for your body. Others love it and eat it all the time. And then there are a whole lot of people who don’t feel passionately one way or the other — maybe it’s a once-in-awhile treat. Wherever you stand on the issue, though, you can probably agree that the way the fast food industry works is a curious thing…
…and because of that, there are lots of fast food myths out there we’ve all believed for a long time.
One glance through Ask Reddit, and you’ll find tons of threads on what goes on behind the scenes at popular fast food restaurants, what menu items employees hate making the most, what gross things are really happening that we as consumers don’t know about, and so much more.
We’re all really interested in how fast food works! That’s not a bad thing, but it can lead to lots of rumors that can end up doing more harm than good. Instead of believing false lies, let’s try to get to the bottom of things.
Here are some fast food myths that just aren’t true:
1. Chicken McNuggets are made from a gross pink slime.
A few years ago, a terrifying image floated around the internet: It was a giant vat of weird pink slime that was supposedly what went into a Chicken McNugget from McDonald’s.
People were disgusted, and the idea spread quickly…
But as it turns out, it’s not even true.
In fact, McDonald’s went out of their way to prove that (can you blame them?).
McDonald’s of Canada released an entire video on the chicken nugget making process so consumers could see what was really going on in the factories.
No pink slime was involved.
What they actually use is ground up chicken breast and some seasonings, so that’s a big relief.
2. Taco Bell uses Grade D Beef.
Another internet rumor attempted to destroy Taco Bell’s reputation. Several “reports” claimed versions of the same thing: Taco Bell uses Grade D beef, or Grade F beef.
That’s basically beef that is only fit for consumption by dogs.
The hysteria over this gross accusation got so real that Taco Bell had to release two different statements saying that their meat is actually real meat.
“Our seasoned beef recipe contains 88% quality USDA-inspected beef.”
Taco Bell President Greg Creed wrote, “When you make chili, meatloaf or meatballs, you add your own recipe of seasoning and spices to give the beef flavor and texture, otherwise, it would taste just like unseasoned ground beef.” Phew!
3. Fast food never goes bad.
Throughout the years, little experiments have appeared on the internet that prove that fast food never seems to go bad. Some show images of fast food sitting around for years and years, not preserved, and yet still looking exactly the same over time. It’s creepy and, frankly, disgusting.
But here’s the good news: It’s not true. Fast food is food — of course it goes bad!
Dr. Keith Warriner, the program director at the University of Guelph’s Department of Food Science and Quality Assurance, explained the truth to McDonald’s. Basically, when left out in the open, fast food (like a McDonald’s hamburger) will dry out.
It gets super dry but it doesn’t visibly rot.
This is which is why it still looks the same sitting on a shelf a decade later. But that doesn’t mean it’s still good to eat, because it definitely isn’t! If you prevented moisture loss by putting it in a humid environment, you would indeed see mold grow.
4. Wendy’s chili contains fingers.
No one wants to hear that someone has found human remains in their food from a popular chain restaurant, but that’s exactly what happened many years ago when a woman claimed she found remnants of a human finger in her Wendy’s chili.
We were all horrified!
The news spread like crazy, and we all believed it, and maybe some people still do.
But don’t stress, because that whole thing was a hoax.
The woman made up the story in order to get money out of Wendy’s, and there’s evidence to prove it. You can still enjoy your Wendy’s chili, no fingers involved.
5. Fast food should be avoided — always.
Fast food is not good for you. We all know that. It’s full of preservatives, salt, calories, sugar, and fats. It’s greasy and it’s not “fresh” or “clean” the way a salad you’d make at home would be. But is it something that needs to be avoided like the plague? No.
Like any other unhealthy food, fast food should be enjoyed in moderation.
You can have it once in a while and you’ll be okay! It’s when you start eating it on a regular basis that it becomes an issue for your health.
6. Fast food is way cheaper than making your own food.
One common argument about why people have to eat fast food a lot is because it’s supposedly cheaper than basically anything else, including buying and cooking your own food.
According to The Atlantic, though, this isn’t always true.
In one experiment, a woman tried making homemade versions of fast food favorites, like Egg McMuffins, Whoppers, and Domino’s style pizza.
For each meal, she found her homemade dishes to be cheaper.
Of course, that won’t be the case every single time, and this depends on a few things: Where you live, where you go grocery shopping, and what you’re buying.
You also need the time (and energy) to cook.
But in general, it shows that fast food is not always the most inexpensive option.
7. Fast food workers have no skills.
An unfortunate myth that persists about fast food employees is that they have no skills or talent, and that’s part of the reason they’re working in the industry.
This is an unfair belief.
Not only can the job be challenging, but, as the Washington Post points out, employees are required to go through all sorts of different kinds of training in order to get and keep their jobs.
Sure, some employees may seem like they don’t know what they’re doing.
But that’s true for any job — and it also doesn’t mean they don’t have any skills in life!
8. Dine-in restaurants are always healthier than fast food restaurants.
If you want to go out to eat but you want to keep things on the healthier side, you might think that fast food is obviously not an option. In that case, you’ll probably opt for a dine-in restaurant, assuming it’s got to be better than fast food.
Well, this isn’t always true.
One study that examined full-service restaurant menus found that full meals there could contain more calories than you should have in an entire day. Dine-in restaurants are not always the healthiest choice!
9. Fast food salads are the healthier option.
Most fast food places offer at least one kind of salad on their menu, and it’s usually meant to draw in the people who want to choose a healthier option.
But in most cases, you’re better off just going with the burger and fries.
An episode of Unreal Eats found that salads with fried chicken and regular dressing could have more calories than a burger, and the salt and fat counts weren’t impressive either.
10. McDonald’s only uses fake eggs.
You’ve probably heard the rumor that McDonald’s doesn’t use real eggs in their breakfast sandwiches or meals — only a fake, imitation egg. The chain debunked this myth with a look at the behind-the-scenes process of the Egg McMuffin.
This round egg is actually a real egg.
It gets its perfect shape because of the round egg holder they crack it into over the grill.
But the process didn’t really go into the making of the other eggs.
Like the scrambled eggs or the folded egg, both of which had a long list of ingredients.
If you want to get the real thing, stick with the round eggs.
The others seem to be made of egg, but, uh, not just egg, which might be concerning.
11. White Castle doesn’t use real onions.
Somehow, a rumor was started that White Castle doesn’t use real onions — they use cabbage cut up to look like onions and soaked in onion juice (which doesn’t really make sense, when you think about it).
Culinary Lore points out how that wouldn’t even work.
Cabbage cooked on the grill would not have the taste of an onion, even if it was soaked in onion juice.
On top of that, what would be the point?
It wouldn’t save money, because onion juice would still be costly! So, really, this is just an odd rumor. Don’t worry – you can eat your crave case in peace.
12. Eating fast food automatically means you’re unhealthy and obese.
There are a lot of unfair stereotypes that come along with fast food. One is that the only type of people who eat fast food all the time are people who are unhealthy and usually obese.
Obviously, this isn’t true.
Of course, fast food isn’t good for you, it can be very unhealthy, and too much of it can lead to unwanted weight gain.
But it is not the only thing that contributes to a healthy bod.
And, on top of that, there are plenty of people who aren’t obese and eat fast food all the time. There are plenty of very healthy people who enjoy some Taco Bell once in a while. It’s not so cut and dry!
13. McDonald’s shakes don’t contain any actual dairy.
There are some theories out there about why McDonald’s shakes are called shakes and not “milkshakes,” and many believe it’s because there’s no actual dairy in a shake.
But the chain revealed the truth about why they aren’t called milkshake:
“Our shakes contain milk from our reduced-fat soft serve, which makes them thick and creamy.
“Dairy regulations actually vary from state to state.”
[This dictates] “what can officially be called a ‘milkshake.’ We like to keep it simple and refer to them strictly as ‘shakes.'”
Don’t worry — there’s plenty of dairy in your shake.
14. KFC uses monster super chickens to make their food.
For a while, many people believed a horrifying rumor: The government forced KFC to stop using the word ‘chicken’ in their name because they actually use super mutant animals to create their food.
It’s a legend that won’t go away!
But Snopes has pointed out the reasons why this is false.
For one thing, KFC uses the word “chicken” all over their website.
So the claim doesn’t make sense right off the bat.
On top of that, KFC sells the equivalent of 736 million chickens each year.
So they would probably have to some pretty huge mutant chicken farms to keep this up… and someone would likely have seen that by now.
15. Popeyes chicken batter contains illicit substances.
Okay, we know that Popeyes chicken can be somewhat addictive, but that doesn’t mean their chicken batter is laced with anything addictive or dangerous.
A rumor started that the batter contained stimulants.
Coke, to be exact. Rumors circulated that a Popeyes manager in Brunswick, George, used the white powder as a part of his chicken’s special batter.
But it was all from a joke site.
According to Snopes, media outlets picked up the story after it was posted on Channel22News.com – a prank website. Still, people believed it. No word on whether this rumor hurt or helped sales.
Some people compare the chicken to the illicit substance.
Even though Popeyes chicken doesn’t actually have coke in it, lots of Twitter users – especially fans of the infamous chicken sandwich – likened the food’s addictiveness to the drug’s.
16. Only poor families eat fast food all the time.
Another unfair stereotype is that those who eat fast food quite often are poor. This is, as the Washington Post points out, a dangerous myth that is also completely false. Data from the Centers for Disease Control have shown that all sorts of people love fast food and eat it often, regardless of their income.
And there are numbers to back this up.
Children born to families living just above the poverty line and below get about 11.5 percent of their calories from fast food, while that’s closer to 13 percent for everyone else.
The data shows that middle class families actually have more fast food than poor families.
17. Starbucks has a giant secret menu.
At this point, you’ve definitely heard about the Starbucks secret menu. If you do a search online for items on it, you’ll find that it’s enormous.
But also? It doesn’t exist.
All of those complicated recipes and names online are completely made-up, and if you want into a Starbucks and ask for, say, a Butterbeer Latte, they will probably have no clue how to make it.
In fact, employees regularly complain about the secret menu.
They are required to customize your drink how you want it, so if you want to order something from the “secret menu,” know exactly what’s in it and ask for it that way!
18. Tim Horton’s coffee is laced with nicotine.
We all know how addicting coffee can be. Who else has had the jitters (or snapped at someone) because they didn’t have their morning joe?
Some folks suggested TH’s coffee has nicotine.
AKA the addictive substance in cigarettes. It’s not clear where this rumor started, but trust us: not real.
That goes for all coffee shops.
If you find yourself addicted to coffee, don’t try to blame foreign substances hidden in your coffee. Caffeine is physically and mentally addictive! You are just really, really into coffee. And that’s okay.