The 'secret menu' at fast-food restaurants

I've seen several articles like this: "Ask for these secret menu items at your favorite restaurants." There are entire websites like hackthemenu.com, built around the concept of ordering fast-food menu items that aren't on the menu. I just want to say that it's largely horse-pucky. 

Yeah, In-and-Out is famous for allowing customers to vary the amount of meat and cheese on a sandwich, or making a big messy Animal Style Burger, or slopping sauce onto the fries if you ask for it. That's a genuine 'secret menu', because it's not at all a secret, and the staff knows how to prep such orders, even though they're not listed on the menu.

Beyond that, while it's technically possible to get a Barnyard Burger (beef, spicy chicken, and bacon) at Wendy's, or talk the staff at Dairy Queen into making a long-since-discontinued variety of Blizzard if they remember how and have the fight ingredients, in practice, purchasing such 'secret menu' items is such a pain in the arse it's effectively a fictional concept.

Let me 'splain: When I worked at McDonald's, decades ago, there were several items on what you'd call a "secret menu" — they weren't on the menu-board customers stared at and ordered from, but if someone asked, we might be able to make a grilled cheese sandwich, or a tiny burger called an All-American, or a double-cheeseburger (which wasn't on the menu at the time), and maybe a few other 'secret menu' items I've forgotten.

But I'd worked there for two years before I'd even heard of any of those off-menu items.

in reality, if you order a grilled-cheese sandwich at McDonald's, the 17-year-old kid working the counter will say WTF. You'll then have to argue until a boss comes over, who's two years older, and there's a pretty good chance that the boss will think you're nuts, too. Or, maybe he/she will vaguely remember hearing something about grilled-cheese sandwiches, but have no idea how to ring it up. Certainly, the pimple-faced kid working the grill won't know how to prepare one.

These are high school kids making minimum wage. They're trained on the regular menu, and specifically not allowed to be creative with the recipes. They don't know the 'secrets', and if you order a grilled-cheese sandwich at McDonald's you'll be the butt of employees' jokes for the next few weeks. Bub, you're going to eat something off the regular menu, or you're going to leave hungry.



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  1. I have had a grilled cheese from In-N-Out, it's one of their known secret menu items. God damn, I miss In N Out. My favorite fast food meal, bar none, is a Doubl Double, Animal Style, no lettuce, and Animal Style Fries. When I lived in San Francisco and worked in either Daly City or SSF, there was an In-N-Out next to a Krispy Kreme. There's a secret to KK that's two-layered : 1. The donuts are passable in general, but FUCKING AMAZING when hot off the line. 2. They are EVEN BETTER, in my opinion, BEFORE they go under the curtain of sugar, because the dough is already quite sweet. The sugar makes it TOO sweet.

    So if the "Hot Donuts Now" sign was lit up, I'd hit 'em both up, and ask at the KK if they could pull the donuts from the line before they hit the sugar.

    Not a healthy meal, six of those and a huge burger or two and fries, but so fucking good.

    I assume you've been to both restaurants at least once, Douggles, but for you or anyone else:

    Animal Style fries : topped with cheese, grilled onions, and Thousand Island dressing


    Animal style Double Double : No pic, but two patties, fried in mustard, with grilled onions and Thousand Island. And double cheese, of course. And pickles and tomato.

    Krispy Kreme : I cued this video up to the time right before the sugar curtain of which I speak.


    1. That In-N-Out picture looks yummy, but I'd want at least two of the burgers please. Actually I'd *want* several, but I'm trying to live a few more years so I'd stop myself at two.

      The Krispy Kreme video — they don't even have an unglazed option? Even without your undoubtedly good advice, I'd want to taste an unglazed one before thinking it needs the glaze. But what do I know? Nothing at all.

      My experience with both In-N-Out and Krispy Kreme is minimal, sadly. When we lived in SF both brands were absent in the city.

      The suburban In-N-Outs were hard to get to on transit, and we didn't have a car. I think I ate at In-N-Out 2-3 times in my 8-9 years in Frisco. Pretty good, as I recall, but I never fell in love with the place, and never had anything that wasn't on the big readerboard menu.

      Never saw Krispy Kreme until we moved to Kansas City, but again, same story, they were in the suburbs, and we lived in the city. I had KK just once, and it wasn't fresh off the assembly line. I didn't know the get-em-fresh mantra then, so we just walked in and ordered some donuts. Like In-N-Out's burgers, they were OK donuts, but I didn't fall in love.

      Has Krispy Kreme gone to shit? There's one somewhere around here — never been there, it's out in the burbs again — and people complain because they don't make donuts. At all. The donuts are trucked in from a Kirspy Kreme thirty miles further away.

      Curious factoid: Google marked your comment as spam, and held it (for hours) until I 'approved' it, which has never happened before. I'm guessing your mention of brand names several times triggered their spam detector? Seems like stupid software to me. Let's see if my comment is marked as spam, and I need to approve it...

    2. My guess is that "Animal style Double Double" sounded like porno and the Googs got so engrossed in trying to replicate the position they forgot to forward the text. Of course that's just a guess.


    3. I see your comment just fine.

      One thing about In-N-Out is that the fries, plain, are borderline bad. Like, McDonalds is easily better. But the Animal Style dressing-up they get is magical.

      No, as far as I know, KK does not officially sell their plain donuts unglazed. But they always were fine pulling them off the line early. I got the idea after trying a few, and getting fricking sugar pains in my teeth.

      In my opinion, most KK donuts are crappy unless fresh. When I lived in Visalia, between Fresno and Bakersfield, we sold KK in the convenience store. They were trucked in from maybe 50 miles away, and were mediocre at best. The idea of an actual KK STORE not making donuts is ludicrous to me.

      And yeah, I think I more often than not had TWO Double-Doubles and an order of fries (they're quite large), and also sometimes a half-dozen donuts. It's what made me the mountain of a man I am today.

    4. Testing to see if posting as my alter ego works. I tried as Captain Hampockets, and was told that it needed approval again.

    5. I tried to comment right about here this morning (about 12 hours ago) and nothing happened. My comment disappeared, but it wasn't reformatted as a comment. It's just gone. I entered my Google ID and PW, correctly I think, and they're gone too. It's all just gone.

      But for God's sakes, just keep packing for Seattle. This little problem will be waiting for you when you get there, along with arranging for garbage collection and finding a diner. Best of luck.


    6. Many hinky things behind the scenes in the software. Occasional kicks in the ass. I have also had comments just melt into the ether...


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