A McDonald's Ketchup Cup Hack Has Customers Scratching Their Heads

Have you ever dined in at McDonald's or another fast food restaurant and filled those little white cups with ketchup or mustard? You might have even grabbed a few, if you had other people dining with you or you like a lot of sauce — after all, those cups are pretty small. Turns out, they don't have to stay that tiny, as YouTube user CrazyRussianHacker — and many others on social media — demonstrated.

You know those little folded parts on the outside of the cup that look similar to a pleated skirt? The cup can actually expand if you pull those sections apart. Just grip the rim of the cup on either side of the pleat with your index fingers and thumbs and gently pull in opposite directions. A section of the cup will expand. You can do this as many times as necessary, until the cup fans out to the desired size. If you expand each section, you'll be left with what looks like a coffee filter for your condiment. Not only will this fit more sauce, but it could also allow you to dip larger items like burgers or sandwiches.

As more people encounter this discovery, the question of intention surfaces. Apparently, the origin story of these cups doesn't align with their current usage.

Although the cups are expandable, they weren't intended to be

Many regard this ketchup cup hack as a mind-blowing invention and wonder why they hadn't realized it sooner — but should they? Finnish writer Verneri Kontto had a similar reaction when he first learned of the hack and conducted extensive research on the cups, with questions about the pleats. He shared his experience on Medium.

According to his research, the inventor of the ketchup cups (a man named Ernest R. Huntley) made no mention of expanding the cups. In fact, he never even intended for them to fold open, even though they do rather easily. Reaping the benefits of the expansion was merely a serendipitous event, and nothing more. Dart Container Corporation, one of the manufacturers of the cups, replied to Kontto's inquiry about the design, claiming the pleats exist in lieu of an adhesive because it's "simply the most economical way to make those products." So the cups are folded in place of glue — basically, not to be expanded. They also said they wouldn't recommend opening up the cups because doing so would be more likely to create a mess.

But despite the mess risk, millions of people will continue expanding those little paper cups. Or, some may just opt for the ketchup packets instead, since some say you should never use the ketchup dispensers at McDonald's anyway. By the way, if you've ever struggled to open a ketchup packet, there's a hack for that, too.