The secret item you can order in McDonald's drive-thru

McDonald's may have a menu in place that is full of both standard items like its famous Big Mac, as well as seasonal favorites like the Shamrock Shake, but that doesn't mean you can't get creative. There are numerous McDonald's menu hacks that one can employ to their order, and even some items a customer can order that aren't necessarily listed on the menu. 

One of those items is the ice. No, not a drink with some sort of special ice, but literally just the ice itself. Before you scoff and think, "Why would I want just McDonald's ice?" hear us out. The Golden Arches is actually a pretty good place to hit up for a bag of ice for a few reasons. 

McDonald's ice is better than generic grocery store ice

Most folks, when they need a bag of ice for a party, probably head to their local grocery store. That's fine, but perhaps you're serving your party guests sup-par ice. After all, grocery store ice isn't McDonald's, as Dara Katz, a writer for Pure Wow, discovered. Katz learned that her friend's mother always got her ice from McDonald's whenever she was having a party because it was simply superior to the garbage ice everywhere else. 

"The reason I like the ice so much is that the cubes come in small rectangles, causing the ice to break apart easily for serving," the friend's mother, Kathy said. "The cubes seem clearer than your average store-bought ice cube, and I feel like the drink is a little more refreshing with these cubes."  

Probably the most notable perk is that the ice isn't a frozen block in a bag, so there's no need to slam the bag on the ground or use your keys as a makeshift ice pick to break it up.   

How much does this superior McDonald's ice cost?

While the mother of Katz's friend didn't seem to know how much a bag of ice from McDonald's costs, First Quarter Finance reports that they tend to sell for between .99 cents and $1.49. That's considerably less than the $4 guestimate of Kathy's daughter. Nevermind that, though, an 8- to 10-pound bag of fresh ice for around $1 is a pretty good deal. 

Of course, you may want to call ahead to check that your local Mickey D's sell ice first. It's not company policy that stores sell ice, and some franchises might not bother going to the trouble of selling their ice to customers. So what's a person to do if their local McDonald's doesn't sell ice, and they absolutely refuse to buy a bag of ice from the grocery store? You're in luck because it's been reported that everywhere from Popeyes to Burger King and Arby's will also sell bags of ice through the drive-thru (via StarTribune). 

Of course, if you're going to hit up the McDonald's drive-thru just for ice you might as well at least make the trip worth it and order some fries, right?

Is fast food ice clean?

Whether it's in your drink or a bag that you picked up from the drive-thru, restaurant ice isn't necessarily as clean as you think. It's not that we're trying to gross you out, but overall, ice at restaurants can be disgusting. For starters, there may be fecal bacteria in the ice. A 2017 investigation by the BBC found coliform bacteria in three different coffee chains with levels between 30 and 70 percent (via The Guardian). Now, McDonald's wasn't included in that study, but it's also very possible that mold and other nastiness could find it's way into their ice machines. 

Some folks on social media have even taken issue with strange things they've found in their McDonald's ice and called into question its cleanliness. "What's this black thing in my ice?" asked one person on Twitter. "Why is there a fly in my ice cube?" questioned another. Okay, so yeah, that's gross, but McDonald's also operates thousands of restaurants and mistakes are bound to happen. 

McDonald's has guidelines for keeping ice clean

Nobody wants flies or other mysterious things in their ice, but according to McDonald's, their restaurants have strict guidelines when it comes to all the food served — ice included.

"We wash, rinse and sanitize the ice scoops and ice buckets used to transport ice from the ice machine to our dispensing machines every day," read a company statement. "We also wash, rinse and sanitize the ice machine itself every month."

You're really taking your chances with anything you eat from a business, whether it's a fusion taco from a trendy food truck or bag of ice from the largest fast food restaurant in the world. That said, 99 cents for a 10-pound bag of ice is still a pretty great deal.