McDonald’s has long been a staple in American culture. Chances are you remember begging your parents if you could stop by the fast food chain during a road trip, or on the way home from school. When mom or dad actually gave in, it was the best day of your life (it’s OK to admit it).
In recent years, however, McDonald’s has been under a lot of scrutiny for not offering the best meal options to customers. There have long been reports about unhealthy and unsanitary practices in terms of food preparation for the restaurant. Health-conscious individuals have long boycotted McDonald’s because of this, in addition to the fact that the food served at McDonald’s is full of fat, calories and sodium.
It seems there was a time that the processed food at the fast food chain wasn’t always so bad for you. Perhaps this is because food in general has become unhealthier over the years. Maybe it’s because McDonald’s has turned even more money-hungry, and cuts corners when it comes to food production. Then again, there’s a good chance that the food at the restaurant has always been bad for human consumption (for the most part), but we just didn’t care until now. Either way, there are likely some secrets McDonald’s would rather keep away from the public. Here are 13 things McDonald’s doesn’t want you to know.
13. Subway Has More Fast Food Chains Than McDonald’s
According to the Huffington Post, Subway defeated McDonald’s by having more fast food chains around the world in 2011. This is likely a secret that the Golden Arches would rather keep under wraps, since mostly everyone automatically assumes that McDonald’s is king when it comes to fast food locations. There’s also a good chance that McDonald’s doesn’t want to be compared to Subway in any way these days, since Jared (“the Subway guy”) was recently charged with child p*rnography. Subway was also under fire for using the same material included in yoga mats to make their “fresh baked” bread. Of course, food analysts started investigating McDonald’s as well, to make sure their buns were made from ingredients that were actually fit for human consumption. These are just some of the reasons why many consumers view McDonald’s with a skeptical eye these days.
12. The Gap Between CEOs and Workers Is Huge
Over the past decade or so, the pay gap between McDonald’s executives and wage workers has increased significantly. Most of the people who serve your food at the drive-thru are making minimum wage, while CEOs for the restaurant are easily pulling in six figures. McDonald’s workers have staged a number of protests and strikes in order to demand higher wages. Of course, this doesn’t reflect well on McDonald’s. If more concerned consumers found out about this, there’s a good chance they wouldn’t patronize McDonald’s. Well, they’d at least cut down on their french fry runs until workers are paid fairly.
11. McDonald’s Targets Children Through Marketing
Most of us have had a Happy Meal or two in our lives. That’s largely because McDonald’s specifically targets children when marketing the restaurant. Sure, in recent years, commercials for the restaurant feature children eating the healthier selections at McDonald’s, such as milk or apple slices, but it’s still pretty underhanded to appeal to children, who will likely become lifelong customers of McDonald’s. Around 2004, the fast food chain got a lot of criticism for this, mostly because of the documentary Super Size Me. It’s no surprise that eating at McDonald’s often can lead to serious health problems such as obesity and high blood pressure.
10. McDonald’s Has Been Accused of Destroying the Rainforest
Greenpeace accused McDonald’s of destroying the rainforest because the restaurant supposedly used soybeans that were harvested from areas that were endangered. The soybeans were reportedly used to feed the chickens that are used in the chicken sandwiches and nuggets at McDonald’s, according to a report from Fox News. After the accusations, however, Greenpeace partnered with McDonald’s to place a moratorium in soybean trading for crops that are harvested from newly deforested areas, as reported by The Washington Post. Looks like the PR team at McDonald’s wanted to stop the bad press about its feeding practices before it got even more out of hand. Well played, McDonald’s. Well played.
9. A McDonald’s Franchise Was Accused of Worker Exploitation
A franchise owner for a McDonald’s decided to leave the organization after there were accusations that student workers were being exploited. Allegedly, the workers were being paid well below minimum wage, in order to save more money for the company. Since McDonald’s has already gotten lots of criticism for unfair payment of workers, this was definitely not a good look for the company. The fast food chain was also accused of providing the student workers with unacceptable living conditions. These types of allegations don’t reflect well on any company, but since McDonald’s is so well known around the world, the news definitely had the potential to ruin the reputation of the restaurant.
8. McDonald’s Allegedly Served Expired Chicken
Times of India reported that in 2012, Chinese State TV said that McDonald’s was serving chicken that had been expired. There’s no way around the fact that this can only be perceived as bad press. We’re sure you’ve seen at least some of the reports on social media about what it takes to make some of the food at McDonald’s, particularly the chicken products. Throwing out large amounts of food of any kind could cost the restaurant lots of money, and as we know, money is the determining factor in most corporate decisions. This is a pretty clear indication that, overall, McDonald’s put money ahead of its consumers. Sure, the Chicken McNuggets are good, but just think about that next time you pull up to the drive-thru.
7. McDonald’s Oatmeal Isn’t Healthy For You
In an attempt to add more healthy options to its menu, McDonald’s has issued items like oatmeal to its breakfast selections. However, The New York Times reports that the hot cereal really isn’t all that healthy for you. After all, part of the reason it’s so delicious is that it’s laden with sugar. Sure, you can opt to have your oatmeal with apples, but the fruit isn’t organic, since that would cost the company too much money. Overall, the oatmeal is overly processed as well, which doesn’t exactly make it a wholesome breakfast option. Obviously, McDonald’s is trying to appeal to on-the-go workers who want to get a hot meal in the mornings, but the oatmeal is pretty misleading.
6. McDonald’s Employees Eat the Leftover Food
This probably isn’t a huge secret if you’ve worked at McDonald’s or have a friend or family member who has been an employee at the restaurant. However, it’s probably a secret that the fast food chain would rather keep under wraps. The employees eat the leftover food at the end of mostly every shift. This is definitely not a good idea for dieters, and it could certainly explain why workers at the drive-thru sometimes get your order “wrong,” causing you to wait at the front of the drive-thru, and force you to leave in frustration before getting your correct order because you don’t want to be late for work. It’s not an even trade for being paid so little, but it’s probably a source of minor revenge for McDonald’s workers.
5. Some McDonald’s Food Ideas Were Disasters
McDonald’s is known for its classics like the Quarter Pounder, Chicken McNuggets and the McRib (which shows up every now and then). However, there are some other products the restaurants tried to sell the public on that didn’t go over well at all. The McDLT was criticized for not having environmentally-friendly packaging, and the McLobster just came across as “gross” to most consumers. The Styrofoam packaging for the McDLT sandwich was meant to keep the lettuce and tomatoes on the sandwich cold while the sandwich stayed hot, and the McLobster, which was supposed to be McDonald’s version of the lobster roll, confirmed that people just don’t want to get high-quality seafood from a fast food chain.
4. McDonald’s Is Open on Christmas Day
In the past few years, McDonald’s has encouraged its franchises to stay open on Christmas Day. Of course, this means that workers have to spend their holiday away from their families and friends, but hey, McDonald’s gets to make more money. In 2012, it was also reported that workers didn’t get paid overtime for having to work on Christmas. So, in addition to the fact that McDonald’s employees rarely get paid fairly, some of them now have to work on Christmas Day, for the same pay they get through the year. This certainly doesn’t paint McDonald’s in the best light, even if you’re glad your local chain is open on Christmas Day when you need some extra coffee and want to get away from your loved ones for a few minutes.
3. McDonald’s Doesn’t Acknowledge Its Part In Childhood Obesity
It’s pretty common knowledge that McDonald’s has a little something to do with why many children in the U.S. are overweight. There have long been accusations that the fast food chain has a huge impact on the overall weight and health of children, but the restaurant refuses to directly acknowledge this. Instead, it has offered healthier options for children, like juice instead of soda and fresh fruit instead of french fries. But let’s be honest— they could do a better job of making these wholesome choices more appealing to children. Completely disregarding its role in childhood obesity isn’t exactly noble, either.
2. McDonald’s Coffee Caused An Injury
In 1992, a 79-year-old customer by the name of Stella Liebeck, sustained some pretty serious injuries after she spilled a cup of McDonald’s coffee on herself. This was one of the biggest scandals in the history of the fast food chain. Liebeck had third-degree burns as a result of the coffee accident, and was eventually awarded a little less than half a million dollars for her injuries. Other hot coffee lawsuits have also plagued McDonald’s since then. We’re guessing people heard about Liebeck’s big payday, and figured they’d give the whole “pressing charges” thing a shot. This is also an indication that the coffee at McDonald’s is very hot, so it’s best to be really careful if that’s where you get your morning cup of Joe.
1. McDonald’s Sales Have Declined
In 2012, McDonald’s was forced to admit that their sales have declined significantly for the first time since 2003. This is probably the biggest secret that companies want to keep from consumers. When customers learn that a company isn’t making as much money, this is likely an indication that the product isn’t what it once was. Decreasing sales could also be a sign that people are starting to become more informed about what they’re buying. Either way, this spells less money for McDonald’s. McDonald’s has tried to revive its menu with features like McBites, which features smaller portions, as well as smoothies and other healthy choices. Recently, McDonald’s has also started serving breakfast 24 hours a day (in the U.S.). Whether these tactics will prove beneficial remains to be seen.