25. McDonald's Fries are not vegan

Fast Food Big Mac & Fries
@spencerpa440 via Twenty20

If you’re a vegan, vegetarian and/or gluten-intolerant person, one of the few safe options on any menu has always been french fries. They’re just potatoes fried in oil, and as long as it’s the right kind of oil, you have nothing to worry about.

Well, if you’ve had McDonald’s fries in the past, start worrying.

In looking at the nutritional facts on the McDonald's website their french fries are made with natural beef flavor and contain hydrolyzed wheat and milk as starting ingredients. This means that these fries are a crispy trap for anyone with dietary restrictions.

McDonald's originally used beef fat as a frying agent to crisp these guys up, but they supposedly switched to vegetable oil in 1992. It was revealed, however, they were mixing it with beef lard which resulted in the filing of a $10 million class-action lawsuit in 2001.

This is only unique to America, as the beef ingredients aren’t included in the U.K. nutritional facts. But still, how can the trust ever be repaired for this deceit?!

24. Stop asking, the ice cream machine is broken

Matcha twist cone, vanilla, limited time offer, mcdonalds
@Traveleroftheworld via Twenty20

Anybody who loves McFlurries will tell you that expecting to get one all the time will lead you to McDisappointment.

McDonald's ice cream machines are infamous for constantly being down. So much so that someone engineered an app that tracks which ice cream machines are broken at McDonald's near you.

The ice cream machines that McDonald's uses go through a really long cleaning cycle — around four hours. If done incorrectly, it can increase the time dramatically and sometimes shuts the machine down completely.

These old machines, manufactured by Taylor, are made specifically for McDonald’s franchise locations and haven’t changed since 2003. YouTuber and journalist Johnny Harris claims that McDonald's keeps these machines broken on purpose to get more money out of franchise owners.

23. McDonald's makes a lot of money off their real estate

McDonald's real estate
@janadunbar via Twenty20

If you haven’t already watched The Founder starring Michael Keaton, it's a really telling bio-pic that contains interesting details about the founder of McDonald's, Ray Kroc. One thing we can say is true is the advice Harry J. Sonneborn gave to Kroc in 1995.

“You don’t build an empire off a 1.4% cut of a 15 cent hamburger, you build it by owning the land on which that burger is cooked.”

McDonald's determines where franchise owners can open their locations. With the big boss setting the terms, they put McDonalds locations on land that they own. So not only is McDonald's getting franchise fees and a cut of the profits, but they’re also collecting rent from that franchise owner to operate their location.

With all those locations collecting rent, the lettuce isn’t the only green McDonald's is cultivating.

22. If you want fresh fries, you’re going to have to wait

McDonald's fries with salt
@xoashleigh / Twenty20

Nothing is worse than old fries. This is especially true for those papery thin golden delights you get at McDonald’s, which often turn to cardboard in less than five minutes.

A trick that works is asking for fries without the salt. Given the fries at McDonald's are saltier than the Pacific ocean, this makes employees drop a new batch of fries and serve them straight out of the fryer.

If you don’t care about your sodium intake, you can just ask for fresh fries and they will fulfill the request. But be warned, you will be waiting a couple of minutes while those crispy bits crackle to doneness. Sometimes it’s worth it to not get those sad, wrinkly fries.

21. The fries are a lot unhealthier than you think

McDonald's fries unhealthy as cigarettes
@aschmidt0073 via Twenty20

We don’t exactly go to McDonald's for a “healthy” option. But if you’re counting calories, maybe stay away from the fries.

A large serving of fries is 560 calories (contrasted with a Big Mac, which is 550). The New York Times interviewed Eric Rimm, a professor in the departments of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, who recommended only six fries with a side salad. Six fries is barely a drop in the container. And combining it with a salad? Who does that?

It’s probably best not to think about it too much if you want fries with that, but that’s not even McDonald’s worst offense with their french fries.

20. Your food can be cheaper

Cheaper burger in wrapper
@lira_n4 via Twenty20

Is there really that much difference between a McDouble and a Big Mac or is it all in your head?

McDonald’s allows for customers to customize items for certain items, and if you’re willing to do some assembly on your end, you can end up saving a few bucks on signature items.

The most common is the “Poor Man's Big Mac,” which means adding shredded lettuce and Mac sauce to a McDouble for a few extra cents. Reddit user Terribly_Good claims that you can get a sausage muffin ($1.29) with an egg round on the side ($1) and it’s all the same ingredients as a Sausage Egg McMuffin ($3.29).

19. There is no secret menu, employees just hate you

Ordering food at McDonald's with special request
@Yuliasis via Twenty20

We all love getting special treatment wherever we go, but just know your actions have social consequences.

With all the “McDonald's Hacks” that are floating around on the internet, employees are tired of hearing your special orders. While yes, they are required to listen to you, all special requests lengthen your ticket and are often just labeled “special request.”

All those requests will lengthen the time it takes to make your order, especially if you’re coming in during a lunch rush asking them to deconstruct your order. Is it worth waiting an extra five minutes because you wanted tartar sauce on your burger?

Just get your Mac and get out. These poor employees have suffered enough.

18. Grilled cheese

Mcdonalds grilled cheese
theendorsement / YouTube

While vegan options are near impossible at McDonald's, vegetarians can still cling to a sweet cheesy delight.

There are plenty of ways you can do this; just choose your cheese burger and ask them to hold the burger. There’s even an option on the menu to have a Big Mac without meat. It’s probably the only hack they like, as it requires them to not do something and will turn your order around quicker than if you ordered meat.

Don’t expect to be breaking any records for a cheese pull, but it’s a great way to not start any beef with the cashier.

17. Skip the ice

cube ice from clean water in ice making machine for restaurant food industry background
Mr.1 / Shutterstock

While ice can act as a filler between your sweet soda and a watered down mess, on hot days, the refreshing cool of the cubes offers sweet relief. Though at McDonald's, you might just want to skip it all together.

Apparently they don’t clean out the ice machines very frequently. Reddit user ethancaseroll, who worked at a McDonald's, says, “Ice machines are cleaned on a rare basis, and the amount of floaties you’ll get in [your] water cups is atrocious.”

If you’re looking for a refreshment, maybe stick to soda and steer clear of that unfiltered water. You get more soda without ice anyways.

16. Soda streamlined

Bottles of Coca Cola
@vlad1945 via Twenty20

Fountain soda is often lauded as the superior form of soda, with good reason. There’s something about the soda syrup mixing with the carbonated water directly into your cup that makes it taste so much sweeter. Though McDonald's has a superior coke, and that’s not objective.

Coca-cola has a special relationship with McDonald's and they do different things when they ship the syrup for the machines. They ship the syrup in stainless steel containers, which keeps it more fresh. The tank, along with the carbonated water, gets a prechill before heading into the soda machines.

When those dollar drink days come back, know that going to McDonald's to get your coke means you’re getting better quality stuff for a fraction of the price of store-bought soda.

15. The McMansion

Mcdonald's Mcmansion
Topcat 129 / YouTube

When you picture McDonald's, you don't often picture a luxury experience but rather a midnight shame moment you’d rather forget.

If you have refined taste, but still craving some of that mac sauce, then this McDonald's mansion in Independence, Ohio should be a priority for you. With chandeliers and Colonial decor, this location just outside of Cleveland is perfect for high tea — as long as that tea is orange pekoe.

Everything on the menu is the same at regular McDonald's prices. So enjoy your late night nuggets in style.

14. The last slice

Mcdonald's Pizza
Mark Goudy / YouTube

McDonald's Pizza is one of those long lost menu items the internet still pines over — or pies over, if you will. While logistically making pizza is a nightmare for a burger chain, we still crave that sweet ‘zza of the 90s.

Located in Orlando, Florida, christened as the “Epic McD,” the largest McDonald’s in America boasts a massive play place and futuristic trash cans. With all that space, they filled up the menu with custom items you’re not going to get in any other McDonalds.

There’s pasta, Belgian waffles, a whole dessert bar, and yes, that infamous McD’s pizza. Honestly, having an epic McDonald's in Orlando, Florida feels right.

13. A sweet glitch

McDonald's app free cookies
@rfaizal707 via Twenty20

The McDonald's app is rife with coupons that’ll get you free items, but McDonald's isn’t as skilled at coding as they are with their burgers.

Reddit user neily777 reported a glitch while using the free cookie coupon.

“Add [the coupon] to your order and you get the free cookie. Then, the next time you order from the app, just reorder your last meal (you can add/subtract whatever you want) but the free cookie will still be there. The glitch is that you can add another free cookie from the deals section, and now you have two free cookies. Evidently there is no cap to this. I now get 5 free cookies with each order.”

There are plenty of free item coupons poking around on the app, so try it next time you’re looking to get some free cookies. Promise to not rat you out for stealing those cookies from the cookie jar.

12. You can request specific Happy Meal toys

McDonald's happy meal toys
@amzyrrashid via Twenty20

As a kid, nothing is worse than opening up a Happy Meal to find you didn’t get the “cool toy.” As an adult, you begrudge kids for getting all the toy fun.

If you ask real nicely, McDonald's employees will give you the specific toy you request — depending on the availability of the toy. If you want to do without the meal, you can even just outright buy the toy. Quora user Kaitlyn Abernathy claims you can buy the toy for $1.99 plus applicable taxes. With the full meal only costing you a dollar more, you might as well spring for that cheeseburger.

You can even do this with the book selection that comes with a Happy Meal. But really, who’s getting the book?

11. They can hear everything you’re saying at the drive-thru

Mclovin' Mcdo Drive-Thru
@steph.nakagawa via Twenty20

It can be hard to make out what those drive-through employees are saying through those craggly speakers. But just know that they can hear you clear as day.

Once your car rolls up to the speaker, the aluminum in your car triggers their headset. Reddit user the_mole_thief bore the brunt of embarrassment when someone in their car was sassy to a drive-thru employee.

“The drive-through [employee] had the most monotone voice I had ever heard … my younger sister just goes ‘Wow, aren't you a bucket of rainbows.’ She didn't say it too loud but loud enough so that the guy could've heard her. When we pulled up to the window the employee gave me a sarcastic smile (he probably thought I had said it) and I was completely mortified.”

If you want to talk about the drive-thru employees, you might want to wait until you’ve driven away. Awkward.

10. They changed apple pies

Mcdonal's apple pie
Mashed / YouTube

When the ice cream machine is — inevitably — broken, nothing helps with a sweet tooth more than a classic apple pie. While the deep frying stopped long ago, McDonald’s has made healthy modifications in recent years.

In 2018, the company that manufactures the apple pie, Bama Companies, tweaked the recipe to ensure the dessert contains less sugar.

This includes removing the artificial colors, preservatives, and high fructose corn syrup, and emphasized the cinnamon flavour. The biggest travesty of all, they removed the cinnamon sugar coating and added more fresh fruit.

Whoever wants desserts at McDonald’s to be more healthy is clearly in the wrong place.

9. Avoid the apple pies

Mcdonald's 24 hrs
@Jr.Md via Twenty20

Yes, the apple pies are healthier, but writing them off completely for that reason would be unfair. Good thing there are more reasons to never even think about them.

Apple pies and breakfast burritos are the least ordered items on a McDonald’s menu, so they often sit in warmers long past their prime. Reddit user Vinchenzo97 even claimed that they would switch out the expiration date when they were past.

Hand pies are convenient to eat, but the convenience clearly comes at a cost.

8. No tears over real onions

Pile of red Onion powder and red onion slides on orange background. Selective focus.
hemro / Shutterstock

Cry all you want, but those tiny little bits in your burger aren’t exactly 100% real onion.

Apparently, McDonald’s ships dehydrated onions to their locations to rehydrate when needed. They’re often stirred to avoid clumping, and stored in the fridge to keep “fresh.” Reddit user Goliath_22 claims that if you use hot water to rehydrate them instead of cold, they turn pink instead of white.

Maybe just try not to think about it when you’re eating your next cheeseburger, because while not the most pleasant process, they’re still pretty good.

7. Getting soured on the sweet tea

Mcdonald's sweet tea
@elenavolf via Twenty20

The sweet tea at McDonald’s is freshly brewed at the locations, and is a refreshing alternative to those sugary sodas. But this freshness comes at a cost.

While there is still less sugar than sodas, McDonalds pours a ton of refined sugar in there. One Reddit user claimed about four pounds of sugar per five gallons of tea and another claimed one pound per gallon. What’s worse, one employee told Insider they brew their teas in utility buckets. This probably explains why sometimes the floors at McDonalds are so sticky.

Don’t try and get fancy at McDonald’s, stick with a soda.

6. Only the circular eggs are cracked fresh

McDonald's Bacon Eggs and Cheese Biscuit - Eggs
Willis Lam / Flickr

We were crushed when McDonalds stopped doing all day breakfast in March 2020. No longer could you have a Bacon Egg and Cheese Biscuit for breakfast at 4 p.m. But maybe that’s probably for the best.

Unless you’re spending your money on a round egg, you’re getting some pre-cooked stuff. The folded eggs are cooked in the suppliers’ kitchens then reheated using the grill. Same goes for the eggs in the breakfast burrito, only instead of a grill reheat, they’re microwaved.

Not exactly the best way to start your day. But if you’re trying to start your day with McDonald’s, you’ve probably had a rough night — so treat yourself.

5. The problem with McDonaldland

Mcdonalds was stolen
Yesterworld Entertainment / YouTube

McDonaldland was part of growing up for every child — and parent — from the 70s till the early 00s. Part of the reason you don’t see Mayor McCheese and the gang anymore is because the characters was stolen from the television show H.R. Pufnstuf.

In trying to come up with this campaign, McDonald’s reached out to the creators, Sid and Marty Krofft, to collaborate. The company told them they weren’t going ahead with their ideas, but then just repurposed elements of the show. They were so brazen about the theft, McDonalds recruited the original voice talent from H.R. Pufnstuf.

McDonalds eventually changed their branding in 2003 to remove McDonaldland, and the PlayPlaces have just been glorified ball pits ever since.

4. The McDonald's coffee lawsuit was worse than you think

Two McDonalds coffee cups
@kateryna1_kat via Twenty20

This lawsuit was ridiculed by everyone in the mid-90s, and people still make general assumptions about what a greedy, frivolous lawsuit this was. What they don’t know is some of the actual details have been over exaggerated.

The woman was burned so bad it caused third degree burns so bad it nearly killed her. The initial lawsuit was only to cover her medical expenses — $20,000 — but McDonalds only offered $800. The jury at the trial suggested she could get around $2.9 million, but she settled for $600 thousand.

McDonalds has since lowered the temperature at which they keep their coffee — obviously. The morning cup of coffee can be piping hot, but it’s not worth scalding yourself over.

3. You can ask for Monopoly pieces by mail

Voting by mail
@alinabuzunova via Twenty20

McDonald’s Monopoly might be a game to some, but with $1 million on the line, it’s a serious endeavor for some. Instead of shelling out all your hard earned money for a chance at prizes, there’s a way you can get game pieces for free.

Because McDonald’s classifies this promotion as a “sweepstakes,” there has to be a non-purchase option for people to participate. You’re able to mail a request to a McDonalds P.O. box and receive two game pieces for each mail-in response. All responses must be handwritten and be postmarked during the contest.

Be sure to read the full contest rules when they become available to find out the specific mailing address. It sometimes pays to read the fine print.

2. McDonald's Monopoly is all about luck

McDonalds Monopoly 2010 small bag -
Aranami / Flickr

The prizes McDonalds Monopoly rolls out are well worth the price of an order of large fries. But as McDonald’s doesn’t want you to be winning all those prizes, they make the game increasingly hard to win.

McDonalds puts different game pieces on all the different items — which means you can’t just load up on hash-browns and expect to win 100%.

They also put game pieces on a large fries and medium drink, which means you’re not maximizing your pieces on your combos either. According to the popular YouTube channel, Food Theory, if you wanted to guarantee winning all the grand prizes, you’d need to spend approximately $1,001,927,340.40.

Even with all the prizes, you’re still losing a lot of money. This game is more about luck than it is about pure spending power.

1. The Monopoly McScandal

McDonald's Scandal
Did You Know ? / YouTube

You can spend all your hard earned time and money on trying to get some of those high-valued game pieces, and it could all lead to nothing. This scam, orchestrated by Jerome P. Jacobson, the director of security for Simon Marketing, frauded McDonald’s over $24 million.

Jacboson transported game pieces personally in a tamper-proof sealed briefcase. After receiving a roll of the tamper-proof seals, he would replace the winning game pieces with non-valuable ones and reseal the briefcase. The FBI eventually caught Jacobson, and he was sentenced to 37 years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of $12 million.

McDonalds announced a $10 million instant cash giveaway to make up for the years of tainted games and cut ties with Simon Marketing. The firm closed soon after the scandal.

About the Author

Chris Middleton

Chris Middleton

Staff Writer

Chris Middleton is a Staff Writer at MoneyWise. He’s written for publications including CBC News, Exclaim!, Parton and Pearl. He’s a graduate of Humber College’s Professional Writing and Communications program and currently working on getting his MA in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Gloucestershire.

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