Fast Food Hacks That Employees Can't Stand

Hacking your meals at fast food restaurants isn't a new concept. Employees who work for our favorite joints have always had some level of freedom to play with the recipes behind the scenes to create some delicious variations not on the menu. Whether you had KFC workers deep-frying biscuits into buttermilk donuts or movie theater staff slathering popcorn with nacho cheese, the idea of changing up your order has always been a semi-protected secret by workers in the food space.

However, with the advent of social media (and more specifically trends on TikTok), creative fast-food hacks are becoming more widespread among consumers and making workers' lives everywhere more difficult. In many cases, employees of fast food restaurants have spoken out on those very same social media platforms to get the attention of both customers and companies and to let everyone know these hacks make their lives miserable. Some companies have even responded by changing store policies.

But let's get down to the question you're probably asking — are any of the hacks that you've been ordering been torturing the employees at your favorite fast food place? We've compiled several that do. Keep reading to learn more.

The quesarito from Chipotle

Everyone knows the foundation of greatness at Chipotle comes from the ability to customize its many fresh ingredients into the perfect burrito or bowl to suit your tastes. However, word got out that if you asked nicely, Chipotle could combine the elements of the quesadilla and the burrito to make a quesarito (move over, Taco Bell). Basically, the cheese tortilla is used as the outer wrap for the burrito, creating a massive, ooey-gooey concoction. But as good as it sounds, it has become well-known that Chipotle workers don't enjoy making it — especially when it's busy.

TikToker @themakeshiftproject said in a viral video, "I ordered it once, and the girl literally looked at me and said, 'You are the bane of my existence.'" Several commenters on the video backed up that claim, with one saying, "it's impossible to not burn yourself everytime you make it." Another said, "I'm a manager at chipotle. we do, in fact, hate making quesaritos. ... they take forever to make but people are inconsiderate."

Apparently, the Chipotle overlords heard employees' pleas and added a standard price for the Quesarito — it's $3.50 more than a normal burrito (via Entrepreneur). Some restaurants have since prohibited employees from making them. Other sites offer quesadillas online only. If your location allows you to order it, just know your local Chipotle employees might not be your biggest fans.

The Land, Air & Sea sandwich from McDonald's

Nothing says hedonistic fast-food mash-up more than throwing together almost every single protein a restaurant offers into a single sandwich — and that's exactly what the Land, Air & Sea is at McDonald's. And this isn't just some fan-made monstrosity — McDonald's actively markets the product (although for a limited time). According to the McDonald's website, "this menu hack covers all bases and all cravings" by combining the ingredients of a Big Mac, a McChicken, and a Filet-O-Fish into one enormous sandwich.

So if McDonald's actually encourages people to buy the Land, Air & Sea, what's the problem? The issue is that the restaurant clearly states online that when you order the menu item, you'll receive a Big Mac, a McChicken, and a Filet-O-Fish separately — and that you need to put them together yourself. Think of it as a DIY sandwich. Once a hack goes viral on TikTok, though, it's safe to say people aren't going to be reading the fine print. 

And that means workers are bearing the brunt of the complaints. There have been several reports of customers exploding at McDonald's employees for not assembling the sandwich for them. In a viral TikTok that has since been deleted, one man actually called McDonald's to complain that he had to do the "work" of assembling the sandwich himself (via Distractify). In the words of Snickers, "You aren't yourself when you're hungry."

The single taco from Chipotle (aka the $3 burrito)

Chipotle's nearly unlimited customization means nearly unlimited ways for customers to find new ways to annoy the employees. So if you're a Chipotle lover, buckle up for more hacks employees can't stand. Next on our list — the single taco.

The trend that went viral on TikTok can be summed up in a video by Jonathan Serrano. He explained how you could go onto Chipotle's app, order a single taco, then order a side of every ingredient you would order for a burrito as well as an extra tortilla on the side. According to the video, the total is $4.50 ($3.10 for the taco plus $0.40 for the tortilla on the side and $1 for the guacamole). You'll get every ingredient you need to create your own burrito in a full-sized tortilla at a reduced cost.

Needless to say, Chipotle employees hated the trend. One Chipotle worker went to Reddit to vent: "i hate the person who came up and posted the single taco into a burrito hack on tiktok." The post gained more than 300 comments, with many workers agreeing it created more unnecessary work. Plus there are all those extra plastic containers. Chipotle stepped in to put a stop to the viral hack. On September 7, 2022, Chipotle sent an email to all of its restaurant managers that the ability to order tacos on the app would be deactivated "until further notice" (via Business Insider). No more single tacos for TikTok hackers.

The grilled cheese cheeseburger from Five Guys

Everybody loves a good grilled cheese. Everybody loves a good cheeseburger. And if the math adds up, everybody should love a good grilled cheese cheeseburger — which is exactly what has gone viral recently for the burger chain Five Guys. But not everyone loves it — namely the employees.

TikToker @shawnthefoodsheep breaks down the hack in one of his videos, saying it's basically a grilled cheese with a beef patty and whatever else you want to add in it. He personally adds grilled mushrooms, grilled onions, pickles, and more. He goes on to say, "holy crap, this is amazing. This is an orchestra of fast food ingredients that creates a foodgasm in your mouth."

It seems like there's a bit of a disconnect between customer and employee, though. In Shawn's video, he states the burger is "very easy to order," but some workers don't feel the same way. In a video that has since been deleted, one Five Guys worker begs customers to stop ordering the grilled cheese cheeseburger (via Daily Dot). Is the "foodgasm" worth upsetting the workers at your local Five Guys? That's for you to decide.

The cheap latte from Starbucks

If there were a poster child for franchises that have been ravaged by TikTok hacks, Starbucks would be it. A Google search for "TikTok Starbucks drinks" will garner dozens of results detailing overly sweet drink hacks like the "Triple Caramel Threat" and the "Pink Drink." Customized drinks don't always draw the ire of Starbucks employees — in fact, it's almost expected to have some level of customization for your favorite drink. But one specific money-saving trick at the coffee giant is annoying employees.

The viral hack in question involves ordering an "espresso over ice" and then adding milk to the drink in order to get a significantly cheaper version of an iced latte. Although the original viral hack has since been deleted, the damage was done. Blog posts and videos continue to spread all over the internet, encouraging customers to try this cheaper latte hack for themselves.

In one Reddit post, u/CARRENTAL213 vented about a customer attempting the trick at their Starbucks. They described the mobile order for a triple espresso over ice with extra oat milk, and when the guest arrived, he immediately asked for more oat milk. The employee said they warned him he would be charged for a latte next time. "These people are annoying," they finished. Over 200 comments were left in the thread agreeing with the original poster. The lesson? Respect your baristas.

The Waffle House sandwich from Waffle House

A TikTok hack by user @shantellxoxo that garnered over 6.8 million views and more than 11,000 comments was focused on one, heaven-made monstrosity that since been dubbed the Waffle House sandwich. It's essentially a Texas patty melt with beef patties, cheese, grilled onions, and bacon sandwiched between two waffles instead of Texas toast (with a big cup of pickles on the side). In the video, the concoction is split evenly into four pieces and looks to be the size of four small burgers.

Since then, many other aspiring eaters flocked to their local restaurant to snag their own Waffle House sandwiches. In another viral TikTok, an employee from Waffle House tries to dissuade people from getting the hacked sandwich by telling them it costs around $20, but this seemed only to fan the flame as an advertisement for the sandwich.

Some branches of the breakfast chain have taken matters into their own hands. According to a TikTok by user @officialgodbodycash, one Waffle House posted a handwritten sign that said in all capital letters: "ORDER FROM THE MENU WE ARE NOT MAKING ANYTHING YOU SAW ON TIKTOK!!" That's one way to deal with TikTok crazes: Just say no.

The TikTok drink from Starbucks

Although there are tons of Starbucks drinks on TikTok, one drink has taken the crown — and has appropriately been dubbed the "TikTok Drink." According to a viral TikTok by user @lizziexdye (who is apparently a Starbucks barista herself), the order is an iced white mocha venti with vanilla sweet cream cold foam and an extra drizzle of caramel. Another version posted by @starbuckshackssecret adds two pumps of hazelnut to that drink. One commenter named Nadya asked, "Is this one of those the baristas get mad that we order? I'm tempted to try."

Yes, Nadya, it is. Another commenter says, "I work at Starbucks & I hate TikTok for promoting this drink." Another asks the viral poster: "Why would you do this to other baristas?"

Several Starbucks employees have taken to Reddit to complain about not only having to make the complicated drinks, but the hate they receive from TikTokers when complaining at all about their lives becoming harder due to the customized drinks. One barista stated in a post, "Ran across a video of people encouraging other people to order complicated drinks just to spite baristas for complaining? Idc what you order but if you're doing it with ill intent that's kinda upsetting."  The next time you think about ordering a drink that's not on the menu, try to keep the human on the other side of the counter in mind.

The mixed burrito from Chipotle

At a popular Mexican grill burrito chain called Pancheros, employees use a special device called "Bob" to evenly mix all of the contents of the burrito together so the customer gets the perfect bite every time. Unfortunately, Chipotle does not use "Bob," so some patrons have taken it into their own hands to specifically ask Chipotle workers to mix their burrito contents together.

In yet another viral TikTok, a user showed a Chipotle worker mixing up the contents of their burrito with two plastic tops from the side containers and captioned it: "this is ur sign to ask the Chipotle staff to mix up your burrito before they wrap it." In the comments, someone replied, "this ur sign not to do this bc we not supposed to now." Several others commented about how annoying this is for Chipotle workers and how it holds up the line unnecessarily. One commenter simply said, "when people ask me i say no."

Final verdict? It's probably better to leave this hack on the shelf — especially if your Chipotle is extra busy that day.

Paying it forward in the drive-thru

At this point, just about everyone's heard of the pay-it-forward drive-thru line, which was parodied in a viral clip from actor and comedian Tim Robinson. The simple idea behind the heartwarming scheme is to pay for the order of the person in the car behind you and hopefully create a chain of delighted and kind individuals who continue paying for the people behind them.

Although it may seem like a harmless and thoughtful trend, several drive-thru workers have come out to say how much they hate it. TikToker @bennettcardoso said he couldn't stand pay-it-forward drive-thru lines because he would have to memorize extra orders. He went out of his way to break the chains on his own by simply offering the person in the next car a free drink without telling them that the car in front of them paid for it.

Another issue is that some workers might lose out on tips, which is a big source of income for some, whenever one of these chains begins. TikToker @uzumakihottie stitched another viral TikTok with @bennetcardoso and offered a solution to the problem: Take the freebie the person bought for you, and give the money you were going to spend on your order to the worker as a tip — thus ending the chain of "thoughtfulness." Who knew being nice to other people was causing so much stress for drive-thru employees?

Ordering at busy drive-thru with no money to try to get free food

Of all of the hacks on this list, this one is probably the most devious. In a viral TikTok that has since gone private, a woman went to her local Chick-fil-A's drive-thru when it was really busy. She used a debit card that she was aware would get declined and waited for the employee to get frazzled and wave them through with a free meal so the line could keep moving. 

Although the trick seems unethical at best, several commenters replied with their own tricks that relied on the goodwill of an employee so that they could get free food. Of course, several others argued the hack was a terrible thing to do.

According to Daily Dot, one person commented, "Yeah as a former Chick-fil-A employee, don't do this. Managers will direct you out of the line with no food." Another commenter, via Daily Dot, hit the nail on the head: "When I worked at Chick-fil-A I would almost never give people free food. Because as an adult why are you ordering food when you don't have money." Not only is this hack wrong, but you could be getting people in a lot of trouble by practically stealing.

Animal fries from In-N-Out Burger's secret menu

There's nothing secret about In-N-Out Burger's secret menu. If you're a regular at the iconic West Coast burger chain, you likely have your own specific order down pat (double-double animal style with chopped chilies, thank you very much).

Although the employees at In-N-Out are well-known for being friendly and upbeat, working at the restaurant can get extremely hectic. Several have commented that the environment is extremely fast-paced, which means it can get stressful. One person commented, "When it rains, it pours at In-N-Out, meaning that the bad days can be especially brutal" (via Simply Hired).

One former associate of In-N-Out had this to say when asked which secret menu item they hated making: "Any sort of variance to fries, such as well done, no salt or otherwise, especially during rush, means a whole new basket of fries needs to get made and checked on, and while juggling three other baskets it can get stressful" (via Quora). The former employee goes on to say that animal fries were the most troublesome because the toppings would often fall off, resulting in cheese melting on the plate or grilled onions needing to be cleaned up, or the order would get messed up. "There always seemed to be way more issues with animal fries than other items," the worker wrote.

The soup burritos from Chipotle

With the amount of customization that Chipotle Mexican Grill allows its customers, it was probably inevitable that someone would come up with a way to get what's been dubbed a soup burrito (if you can call it that) out of certain ingredients.

A soup burrito pretty much just includes a ton of the liquid ingredients that make the tortilla soggy. "An example of one is a burrito that has barbacoa, hot salsa, sour cream, and at times queso. Wrapping a burrito like that is very difficult and at times customers get annoyed we can't wrap it," a Chipotle worker said via Mental Floss.

It's easy to see why employees of the fast food chain would hate making this one. Several of them went to Reddit to vent. In one post, u/atkinsondrangoly titled a post: "Stop getting Soup burritos." He goes on to complain about how hard it is to make the burrito — and wonders why anyone would even enjoy eating something like that. "Like I get that you might like the flavor of these Sauces but it's damn near impossible to roll this. Not even my Gm can roll that." Another employee agreed with the post, saying, "I've been telling ... [the general manager] for years we need to limit all liquids to 2 servings on burritos. We get too many negative surveys for soup burritos." We can get on board with this one. Burritos should just be burritos — not soup.