Do Fast Food Restaurants Actually Have Timers In The Drive-Thru?

One of the best and most convenient discoveries in the fast food world? The drive-thru, of course! According to Food Beast, the first ever drive-thru was started in 1947 by Red's Giant Hamburg in Springfield, Missouri. Fast food giant McDonald's was actually much later to the game. It only started operating drive-thrus in 1975!

You may find this hard to believe, but operating a drive-thru can be incredibly entertaining. A Redditor wrote about one of their most memorable experiences on the job as a fast food worker. "I've had a lady have her pet parrot place the order over the mic and proceed to have a conversation with me the entire time at the window. It was awesome," they said.

TikTok users are currently divided over a video that shows a drive-thru worker waving a piece of wood in front of something near the drive-thru window. Basically, they can't decide whether a timer is being used at the drive-thru or not. Some reckon the worker is activating a sensor and making it seem like the cars are getting through the lane faster. Some comments say this is to make it seem like they're delivering faster service than they really are, while others say it's a sign the system "can't tell the car is moving" and needs to be manually triggered.

Timers do play a role

Well, as stressful as the idea may seem to fast food workers, timers do exist at drive-thrus. One of the popular options on the market is the ZOOM Nitro drive-thru timer, a device that is designed to track performance. Its description calls it "the in-store diagnostic tool that empowers managers to solve performance issues on the spot" (via HME). 

Redditors have discussed this topic in the past as well. When someone asked why these timers are needed, one commenter wrote that they help monitor efficiency and allow a company to understand how the store is faring in terms of profits. Another Reddit user added that "there's time guidelines set by supervisors or owners and it shows the staff how long it's taking but also keeps track for management to issue corrective action if necessary."

As per Banner Engineering, this technology can include a system that lets someone know that a customer has just arrived at the counter. It can also check the total number of cars that have gone by and estimate the amount of time that's spent on a single customer. So, we can assume a drive-thru timer was involved in the aforementioned TikTok, but the worker's specific reasoning for doing what he did remains a mystery.