Chili And Cheese–Never Cleaned
“When I worked at 7-11 years ago, one of the things we got was a nachos machine, which had a big glass bin full of chips and two heated cookers with spigots on the bottom, one for chili and one for cheese. It was pretty popular. I don’t know if there was supposed to be some cleaning schedule, but we never had one. Cleaning it meant emptying the cookers, which wasted food, according to my boss.
I worked there back in the 90’s, and the cheese and chili stuff came in big coffee-can size containers. We had to just open them like a can and pour the stuff in the cooker. The cooker consisted of two stainless steel pots, a dispensing spout on the bottom, and a lid on the top. I was always afraid someone was going to lift the lid and take a look inside.
In any case, the cheese one wasn’t so bad. When it was low, we just dumped in another tub of cheese. There was some oily separation, but it seemed okay. The chili, on the other hand, tended to mold, which crept up the insides of the cooker. When it got low, we’d scoop the mold off the top and wipe the inside a bit, then just dump another batch of new chili in on top of the old. If I wasn’t so young and stupid about things, then I’d probably have said something, but all I did was avoid the stuff myself.”
Old Tuna Made New Again
“I used to work at Subway and I’ll never eat a tuna sandwich from there ever again.
At the store I worked at, the old tuna just got mixed in with new tuna and people usually didn’t notice. Also when making the tuna, it comes in a giant flaky pressed tuna patty that doesn’t look edible in the first place and you mix it with a bunch of mayo and just smush it together with your hands. We usually used two bags of mayonnaise for one tuna brick at my store and I thought that was way too much mayo, but I’ve never liked mayonnaise in the first place.”
“I once worked at a Dunkin’ Donuts…
It’s hard to choose just one thing to avoid. If the store is always slow, I’d say stay away from the food/espresso. The food will mostly sit in the hot holding for a crazy amount of time. The espresso machine’s beans are hardly ever changed on time because changing the beans is one of the least important things to be honest. I’ve worked at a busy store and a dreadfully slow store, and at the latter they didn’t change out any espresso beans or clean the containers the coffee beans are in. Watch out for maggots. I know someone who made and drank a latte (their store allowed free food/drinks for employees) and then cleaned the machine afterward… maggots. I still make fun of her for drinking larvae juice.
Then there is the signature item. Every Dunkin ‘makes’ the doughnuts one of two ways:
1) They come frozen, are thawed, and then iced or filled
2) The donuts are actually MADE by hand from dough, which is pretty rare.
In my experience, most donuts do come frozen. There are some stores that use dough and make them in-house, but we were told the only stores that did that was the more rural ones because they had the time to do it. The one I worked at was a stand-alone store. They came frozen, sat to thaw, ‘baked’ to ensure they were completely thawed, and then decorated. We never once used the dough. We accidentally ordered it once and sold it to a bakery down the street.
At my store, all the bread also came frozen, including the muffins. The English muffins and flatbreads are just thawed, everything else has to bake.”
“I worked in a Cinemark movie theatre and found out only two of the inside metal trays of the popcorn machine was cleaned weekly. The most we normally did was clean the trays and the glass. The managers really just trained us on what to do for a few days and then expected everything to be done. They never really inspected anything. They were always in the office unless there was a rush. The only one always around was the usher manager.
I took it upon myself to dismantle it and clean the rest of the machine. It was lined in the corners with mold probably dating back to when the machine was originally purchased. Not every machine out there is fully cleaned, as most places just clean the most used pieces.”
Clean The Pumps!
“I’m a Starbucks ex-employee. Honestly, everything is pretty safe there except for the skinny mocha syrup. I worked at a store for four years before we realized we weren’t cleaning the pump properly, and that crap was naaaaasty. There were clumps of foul-smelling chocolate, fuzzy green bits, all around no bueno. And I was a nut about the pumps before, but when I was taught how to clean them, nobody told us about the little blue plug on the skinny mocha, so it got surprisingly gross in there.
Oh, and the steam wands for all your beloved sugary lattes. Corporate cares more about not damaging the machines than cleaning them properly, which means that every time you ask for your drink ‘extra extra hot, like 200 degrees like the OTHER Starbucks always does, why can’t you?’ you’re adding another layer of scalded milk to the inside of that steam wand. I absolutely will not order hot drinks anymore, because I would cover at other stores and see just how gross those wands were. They nasty, y’all. And I scraped the steam wands religiously and soaked them and made sure mine were spotless, but working with other people and other stores taught me that the ones like us were few and far between.
And as always, the darn ice machines. Although most of the stores I worked in were pretty good about cleaning them because employees get loads of iced drinks.
Oh, the fruit cup was good for about 20 minutes and then instant mush. I always stopped my partners from selling shady food if I saw it.
I trust nobody now that I don’t work there!”
It’s All The Same, Anyway
“I worked at a Japanese casual fast food restaurant for a while and we had this thing called a Volcano roll. It cost $7.25. A California roll there cost $3.75. The Volcano roll was a California roll cut into the shape of a triangle and topped with spicy mayo that has been heated up with about $0.10 worth of fish, literally just a few bits. You are much better off ordering a California roll and paying $0.50 extra for spicy mayo on the side and asking them to heat it up.
I had one guy come in with a girl and he ordered a couple of regular rolls like spicy tuna and yellowtail, along with a Volcano roll. When served in the restaurant, unless they ask us, we would put the sauce on top so it looked nice, like a Volcano. When I brought that roll over he was like, ‘Oh, I didn’t know you guys put the sauce on, I’ve only gotten it for pick up and the sauce is always on the side. I don’t really like the sauce, could you bring me one without it?’
I tried not to laugh and said sure. I went back and the sushi chef asked what was wrong. I told him that he didn’t like the sauce and want one without it. He laughed and said alright, so he took a Cali roll, cut it up, and put it on the plate. I brought it back to the guy and he was super pumped.
Basically, this guy paid $7.25 for a roll that would have cost him $3.75 and the sushi chef and I got to split a free volcano roll. Normally, I would have just told him about it, but the dude was being pretty arrogant the entire time, I’m guessing to act like he was a sushi expert to impress the girl he was with.”
Hold Onto My Chicken Fries
“It’s been a decade since I worked there but, don’t get chicken fries at Burger King. I worked at one that closed down and then worked at three at once so I could make some extra cash working more than 40 hrs a week.
They get double fried, or that was the standard anyway. My problem with them has to do with their hold time practice. First, the chicken fries would go in the fryer for a couple minutes to cook from frozen and then put in an open bin. I worked at four Burger Kings and all followed the same procedure with no lid and then held them for up to six hours. You then refry them for about 20 seconds and serve them ‘fresh’ when a customer orders them.”
Get A Slice Instead
“Arby’s already has a bad reputation (I actually like it well enough), but under no circumstances should you get a Beef ‘n’ Cheddar. Make them put a cheddar slice on it like civilized people.
I’ll just say this: Cleaning out the cheese goop pump when closing was enough to prepare me for working with human stool, sputum, and blood lab specimens without blinking years later. I’m exaggerating because it didn’t have bacteria growing in it or anything, but it would congeal to a foul-smelling brown-orange gel substance, coating the pump container that required a surprising amount of scrubbing to clean off. Our goop never would dry fully, just make a burned gel sort of substance, and the smell of that stuff when it’s fresh kills me.
I think for most people though, the pre-cooked appearance and texture of the roasts would be most off-putting.”
Great Pizza, But…
“I worked at a popular midwestern pizza chain for a while. It’s not really a Chicago place; it’s a Detroit/Michigan chain that has like two stores in Chicago both of which opened in the last year and a half. I’m torn on naming them because, on the one hand, I’m dissing some of the food, but on the other hand, I highly recommend the pizza.
The pizza was really good and the ingredients were fresh, with the sauce and dough being made fresh every morning and the veggies delivered whole and sliced and diced by hand, along with whole blocks of mozzarella being shredded throughout the day. It was good food, and I felt good about making it and serving it. Literally, the only thing we got that was consistently gross was the lettuce we would use for sandwiches and salads. It would come pre-shredded in a plastic bag that was who-knows-how-old and would turn brown and slimy seemingly within the first hour or two. And I think that’s par for the course.
When our store opened on Chicago’s North Side, we took the neighborhood by storm. People instantly became downright addicted to the pizza. But at least once a week, people would call in or walk in angry about how disgusting the salad was.
It was Jet’s. I was torn on naming it because I’m kind of dissing them a little bit, but really and truly the salad is the only thing I don’t like. If you’ve never had Detroit style, you owe it to yourself to give it a try.”
Monster Lady From Panera Bread
“Don’t get any of the asiago cheese or cinnamon sugar bagels from the Gunbarrel Road Panera Bread in Chattanooga, TN – they may contain skin flakes from the bakery manager’s leg. I personally witnessed her pinching the wet dough without gloves, scratch a rash on her leg, and go right back to pinching the bagels.
Those varieties start with holes that are pinched closed and toppings are placed in the resulting divot – delicious when done to a standard operating procedure.
In the time since I quit because of monster-lady, there have been many health inspections; if you are in doubt about the current state of the store, check their health code score.
In addition to the health inspections, I understand that the entire company of Panera has changed hands in the intervening years since monster-lady drove multiple employees from the Chattanooga stores. As I qualified in the original comment, I’d be very surprised if she were still there – and if she is, I find it very likely that the new ownership would have exercised vigilance and enforced new or existing policy which explicitly forbids the behavior I observed.
If monster-lady still manages the bakery, I wouldn’t eat there in general because of the standing water, roaches, and ethical dubiousness that was there when I left.”
Never Order The Milkshakes!
“I worked at McDonalds’s for five years. Never order the milkshakes! The machine often breaks and when it does the milk base stays inside until it is fixed, usually causing the mix to go bad. The machine is kind of cleaned by employees, but never as well as it should be. Every time there is a limited time shake (i.e. Shamrock, or eggnog), the syrup pipes get all gunked up and the only way to fix that is to shove something in the pipe like a broken fork or chopstick to dislodge the gunk.
The McFlurrie machine is the same way and is also constantly down. At my location, they’d just turn off the whole machine when it broke down. I’m pretty sure ours was never professionally fixed. It was usually given to whoever was on the night shift to do their best to fix it. Even if you wanted a milkshake, more often than not, you couldn’t get one.”
Deep Fried Meat Covered In Sugar
“I work at Panda Express. The Beijing Beef, Sweetfire Chicken, and Orange Chicken are just deep fried meat absolutely covered in melted sugar. The Honey Walnut Shrimp is deep fried shrimp covered in yellow dyed mayonnaise. And the egg rolls are probably the most disgusting abominations to Chinese food ever invented. Basically, if you go to Panda Express, get something that isn’t a deep fried travesty. The Black Pepper Chicken, Mushroom Chicken, and Kung Pao chicken are the best and are fun for the cooks to make.
If you go to Panda Express and see a cook have a coughing fit, it might be from inhaling hot vinegar fumes from the Orange Chicken.”
Think Again About That Convenience Food At Your Local Grocery Store
“I work in a grocery store that had one of those quick-service food bars that they would empty and sanitize every night after closing.
I didn’t work in the food department but in the produce section. One night just after closing (before they had emptied them), I was mopping the floor nearby and a mouse unearthed itself from inside the pasta salad tray, hopped down onto the floor and ran off.
So… the pasta salad.”
“While staying away from the Subway tuna is a given, I’m saying stay away from the Subway Meatball marinara.
Not only is it a pain in the butt sandwich to make, it’s disgusting. Not enough people order it so although you’re supposed to throw it out every few hours, it’s held basically all day. The new batch of meatballs is poured on top of it and just mixed up so the dried out old parts are spread throughout. If it gets too dark or crunchy from being held at temp for too long, water is added and mixed in.
Also, don’t ask for extra sauce and then get mad when it soaks through the bread and you have soup wrapped in paper.”
Just Don’t Get An Egg
“I worked at a Chick-Fil-A and everything there is usually great quality, however, I would not recommend getting an egg on a salad. That egg is legitimately the grossest egg I’ve ever eaten.
On a more positive note, not a lot of people get strips which are in my opinion the best-tasting chicken served there.
Get a Chick-fil-A sandwich with American cheese and replace the filet with strips. Trust Me.
American cheese is not my favorite, but CFA only has American, Colby, and Pepper-jack. I like Pepper-jack for spicy chicken, Colby for grilled chicken, and American for the rest of the sandwiches.”
Maybe Not All Day…
“I worked at McDonald’s. Don’t get breakfast after lunch starts up. It sucks for the employees, but also, if we can, we are just gonna microwave your food. Biscuits, griddles, muffins, folded eggs – it’s all gonna get nuked, especially if we are really busy.
At my location, the hotcakes are always microwaved. Sausages get remade for the most part after breakfast time. If you get them at breakfast, they’re almost guaranteed fresh cause we are making so many so fast. If you like egg whites, you’re in luck, because we need to make them special. We never have them in the heating trays. But that’s at my McDonald’s. I’m not sure what happens elsewhere.
I also don’t recommend bacon. We let it sit out for a good while sometimes.”
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