Sneaky Ways Fast Food Restaurants Scam Us

Fast Food Restaurants Scam

Fast food is convenient and, so long as you eat it within about half an hour of buying it, pretty delicious. But can fast food companies really be trusted? The idea that a major corporation has some dubious practices may not come as a huge surprise, but I doubt you’re aware of all the ways of fast food restaurants scam. Let’s find out 10 of the most dubious ways now!

10. Chipotle Cheat: Questionable Calories

Chipotle, best known for being beloved by all and also giving a bunch of people foodborne illnesses that one time, was sued in 2016 by three people who claim that they were basically tricked by the restaurant’s calorie information.

The menu item in question was the Chorizo burrito. On this sign, it would seem as though Chipotle is claiming that the whole thing is only 300 calories. The plaintiffs thought that was what the sign meant. Probably because there’s a big ‘300’ next to a big picture of the burrito.

© Twitter/ScottWeier

However, in reality, only the chorizo, aka the meat part, is 300 calories. Once you add all the other parts of the burrito the whole thing is a thousand calories.


In the end, Chipotle agreed not to advertise the burrito as having fewer calories than they have and paid a fine of each of the named plaintiffs $5,000.

Obviously this is pretty deliberately misleading, so you better watch out if you’re trying to count calories. I doubt Chipotle is the only one trying these sorts of calorie shenanigans. You’re best off looking up the information on some third-party internet source than you are going off the menu.

9. Fast Food Restaurants Scam: Mystery Meat

While eating fast food, at some point we’ve all asked ourselves; ‘just what exactly am I eating, really?’ The answer to that question may not be that great.

In 2016, KFC received an “F” grade from the NRDC for its overuse of antibiotics in its chicken. Overfeeding antibiotics to animals that are not sick to speed up growth and help animals survive crowded and unsanitary conditions contributes to the growing epidemic of drug-resistant infections in humans.


Since then, In 2017, they received a B- after making various changes. But do you really want to eat B- chicken? Other chains don’t fare much better – Taco Bell and Chik-fil-A have both received Bs and Cs, and McDonald’s got a C+.

© Consumer Reports

C+’s are for that guy in class who strategically skips assignments he knows won’t affect his grade that hard.

In fact, for a long time, McDonald’s was accused of using a pink slime to create their burgers. This turned out to be true – that pink slime was minced beef trimmings that had been treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill bacteria.


They removed the substance in 2012 after people realized that that was super weird. But what could fast food restaurants be using right now that they just haven’t gotten called out on yet? Whilst they’ve since cleaned up their act – it’s still food for thought.

8. French Fry Tricks

It is McDonald again in another unfortunate fast food scamming news, in 2017 the company had to put out an official statement in response to a thread on r/AskReddit. The thread, titled “What did your job want you to hide from customers?” blew up after someone claiming to be a McDonald’s employee explained that “They taught me how to pinch the fry carton just right while putting the fries into them so that it looked full, but actually wasn’t.”

The thread got McDonald’s so much heat that a spokesperson had to step in to respond to the internet comment, saying “The notion of a secret trick is absolutely false. There are strict procedures in place to ensure that fry boxes and bags are appropriately filled so our customers can enjoy our World Famous Fries to the fullest.”

We live in an interesting time where I’m genuinely not sure whether to believe McDonalds or a random redditor.

7. Delivery tracking

In 2008, Domino’s created its pizza-tracking technology that allows you to monitor the progress of your pizza with a little animated bar on their website. If you’re so into pizza that you can’t even do anything else until it reaches you, you can watch live updates as it leaves the oven and heads out the door.

© Gizmodo

In reality, however, it’s just based on average wait times. It’s not like there’s somebody sitting at a computer in every Domino’s updating the progress of every pizza that they put out the door. They’re too busy actually making pizzas to really do that.


If you feel betrayed by this, then you’re not alone, as apparently the reality that these supposed timers aren’t as accurate as they claim to be led to some angry AskReddit threads.

6. Fake Grill Marks

Have you ever seen a fast food restaurant with an old-fashioned charcoal grill inside? No? Then just how exactly do certain menu items end up with those distinctive grill marks? Be ready for another shocking fast food restaurant scam!

© Flickr/Lance Holley

Could they be magically created by the flat cooking surfaces that those poor teenagers are slaving over all day? No.

It turns out that most fast food restaurants just buy meat that’s gone through a special process to make it seem that way. They soak the meat in a solution of salt, animal fats, and smoke flavoring to make it kind of taste like it actually came from a grill. Then, they just brand on the grill marks.


If this feels a bit soulless, remember that you probably only paid like three dollars for this piece of meat, and it would probably cost more if somebody had to actually man an open-flame grill back there.

5. Misleading Pictures

Fast food restaurants cheat customers through advertising. They are masters of advertising. Their commercials can make your mouth water just on instinct alone. But of course, like all advertising, this is just an illusion designed to get you to give them currency.

Look at the true sandwich craftsmanship that must have gone into this aesthetically folded tower of meat topped with melting cheese. The real one next to it, of course, was put together by someone who makes minimum wage at an actual Arby’s.

© Facebook/Arby’s & Flickr/Krista

Or behold, this Pizza Hut advertisement that really does make me want to go eat pizza right now. The reality, less so. It kind of just makes me want to go wash my face.

© Facebook/Pizza Hut & Flickr/Javier Aroche

The Big Mac is perhaps the most infamous example of this. In McDonald’s promotional material, the Big Mac looks perfectly proportioned, tall and proud. Real Big Mac’s kind of look like a mess and make you question whether or not the whole double layer thing was ever a good idea to begin with.

© Facebook/McDonald US & Flickr/John

Of course, the artists who create these promotional images employ a variety of tricks to make the food appear tastier than reality. They have actual ‘food stylists’ that push all the ingredients to the forward, whilst moving the buns to the back. To make it look hot off the grill, they melt the cheese with a hairdryer and then add ketchup with a syringe to get it in the perfect location. Its then retouched extensively in Photoshop to make it look extra-perfect.

Here’s McDonalds own comparison of a store-bought burger, and its advertised counterpart.

© YouTube/McDonald’s Canada

4. Price Hikes

Now it’s time for a Burger King cheat scandal. In 2017, the fast food restaurant chain was involved in a class action lawsuit facing off against some Maryland customers. They claimed that customers who had used a Buy One, Get One free coupon from Burger King’s Croisan’wich were in fact paying an inflated price.

With the coupon, they had to pay $3.19, but without, it was only $2.16. Basically they were alleging that Burger King was increasing the price to make up for the coupon. Of course, the chain restaurant didn’t say anything about this on the actual coupon.


Burger King denies that this was happening, but they did end up settling and they gave out a bunch of gift cards. Probably because they didn’t want to drag this thing out in court forever.

It may just be worth double-checking what you actually end up paying for at fast food restaurants, especially if you’re using a coupon. Another fact that you’re not likely to see advertised is that, according to Datassential, a company that researches and analyzes restaurant menu trends, fast food burger prices have risen 26% over just the last four years, but restaurants have been so slow and quiet about it that many people haven’t really noticed.

3. Portions

This is a fast food restaurant scam without any legal repercussion. Should you go for the cup, or the bowl? What about the kid’s size versus the regular size? It turns out that it might not actually matter at all, since they may just be the same size. While the one that looks bigger is definitely going to cost more, you may not actually be getting more food.

Weirdly shaped containers with narrow parts and wide parts can throw off your perceptions and disguise just how much you’re actually getting.

© Shutterstock/Yuriy Golub

In yet another incriminating AskReddit thread, one Steak ‘n Shake employee claimed that “Where I work the child’s milkshake goes into the normal child’s cup which is 12oz. The regular milkshake goes into a milkshake cup which looks bigger because of the shape and the dome lid but still only holds 12oz.”

The trickiest thing about all this is that it’s totally legal. Since words like “regular” and “medium” have no legally binding definitions, they don’t have to be bigger or smaller than other sizes. As long as they don’t lie somewhere about the amount of food carries numerical values such as the nutritional information.

2. The McWhat?

After a random high school science teacher tweeted this fake image of what was supposedly a McRib before being cooked, McDonalds actually invited him as well as MythBuster’s Grant Imahara to the McRib factory.

© Twitter/Dr. Wes Bellamy

There they discovered that McRibs do not in fact come from frozen legos, but also are not actually ribs at all. The “rib” part of a McRib is just pork meat that’s been processed and mixed with water, salt, dextrose — a type of sugar — and preservatives, and then molded into the shape of a rib. After that it receives a spray of water, frozen, and shipped off to McDonald’s around the world.


It’s pretty misleading, then, to call it “The McRib”. I guess “The McPork Molded Into a Rib-like Shape in a Factory” doesn’t really have the same ring to it. Maybe none of this disturbs you, you’re cool with it, and all it’s really done is make you want to go buy a McRib. Then consider this: McDonald’s officially put out all of this video and information in response to that tweet, so of course this is the best possible light it can be cast in. Who knows what they’re really up to?

1. A not so full cup of Joe

Perhaps you, like many people, rely on the Seattle-based company Starbucks to supply you with the caffeine that will make the first few hours of your job tolerable. Starbucks, however, seems hell-bent on giving you the smallest amount of coffee that they can legally get away with.

© Shutterstock/Dontree

After Starbucks was accused of under-filling their drinks in a class-action complaint, their defense was that the cups they use are in fact large enough to hold the advertised volume of liquid, if filled completely. But are they filled completely?


Starbucks attempted to have the lawsuit dismissed under the idea that a “reasonable customer” wouldn’t care, but the judge disagreed, the lawsuit moved forward, and is currently ongoing.

Starbucks also argued that the foam in the drink should count towards the overall volume. But should it really? Just how much caffeine is there in that foam, for instance?

© Shutterstock/PUMM AMORNRAT

Would anyone want a cup of just foam? It might just be worth checking how much coffee you actually got the next time you go to Starbucks.

Has this list of fast food restaurant scam opened your eyes and made you want to avoid fast food forever? Or has it actually just made you think about fast food a lot, and now you’re super hungry? Let me know what you think in the comments section down below.

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