Richard and Maurice McDonald opened their San Bernardino, Calif., barbecue restaurant in 1940. They had no idea it would eventually become a leading, global foodservice retailer with 36,000+ locations in more than 100 countries around the world. Today, McDonald’s is an American icon — and like many icons, it has attracted its share of rumors.
Read on to find out 15 of the craziest McDonald’s myths that have circulated. All of which are — fortunately — not true.
1. McDonald’s patties include cow eyeballs for filler
Perhaps the oddest rumor that went through the mill about McDonald’s is that it uses cow eyeballs to beef up its burgers, according to Tastemade. When McDonald’s stated that is uses only “100% beef” in its burgers, people started theorized that cows’ eyeballs got mixed up with the patties, too.
Thankfully, McDonald’s burgers are 100% eyeball-free. McDonald’s uses meat from the shoulder, brisket, chuck, loin, round, and rib eye — but it never uses the peepers.
Next: Slimy chicken McNuggets?
2. Pink Slime goes in Chicken McNuggets
If you haven’t seen this awful picture of pink slime, view with caution. Rumor has it that McDonald’s uses the slime to make its Chicken McNuggets. Luckily, that’s not true. The pink slime is real, however, and it is food. It’s a legal, safe product called “lean, finely textured beef” that restaurants add to ground beef to lean it out.
Stick with the McNuggets if you’re not into eating the pink slime. Since 2003, they have been made with white meat chicken.
Next: McDonald’s burgers just won’t die.
3. McDonald’s burgers never decompose
Can you even imagine eating something that won’t ever decay? You might as well dine on styrofoam.
Who came up with idea? What a strange, untrue rumor about McDonald’s. The ground beef patties go bad just as quickly as any other burger. Because cooked hamburger isn’t terribly juicy, it dries out instead of rotting. That said, if you leave a McDonald’s hamburger in a moist place, it will most definitely rot, according to Tastemade.
Next: McDonald’s opens a can of worms.
4. McDonald’s beefs up its burgers by adding worms
For decades, according to Tastemade, naysayers have been reporting that McDonald’s uses worms as filler in its burgers as a cost-cutting measure. Ray Kroc, founder of the chain, put the rumor to rest in the 1970s. He pointed out that a pound of worms was twice the price of ground beef, so using it as a filler would make no sense.
Cut to several years later when a photo appeared on the website Daily Buzz, showing a McDonald’s patty with some squiggly white things in it — the squigglies turned out to be butter, not worms, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief.
Next: McDonald’s using robots?
5. Phoenix McDonald’s uses robots as servers
— snopes.com (@snopes) May 27, 2015
This rumor is actually pretty funny. When someone photo shopped a robot into a McDonald’s drive-through window some years back, according to Tastemade, it caused a stir. The jokester who released the photo on Twitter added that McDonald’s opened a new location in Phoenix and was using robots as servers. Um, nope.
Next: Who really founded McDonald’s?
6. Ray Kroc founded McDonald’s
This is a sticky one. Many think Ray Kroc actually started the chain, but Richard and Maurice McDonald did, according to the website Mashed. It was, however, a very different McDonald’s from the one today.
The brothers opened a barbecue joint in New Hampshire, later changing the menu to burgers, shakes, and fries. The McDonalds were all about getting customers fed fast and friendly-like — at a good price. By 1954, their “Speedee Service System” was going strong and they had 21 franchises.
Enter Ray Kroc, who opened a McDonald’s franchise and bought the whole business from the brothers in 1961 for a cool $2.7 million. The rest is history.
Next: McDonald’s first location was in Des Plains, Ill.
7. The No. 1 McDonald’s was in Des Plains, Ill.
Let’s get history straight: Ray Kroc opened his first McDonald’s Des Plains, Ill. That said, 21 franchises already existed. So really, the Des Plaines location was Kroc’s flagship franchise, not the first franchise, according to Mashed.
The original Des Plains location was torn down, but McDonald’s rebuilt it to preserve a little piece of its history. FYI: The very first restaurant was in San Bernardino, Calif., where the McDonald brothers started their burger biz in 1940, long before Kroc came on the scene.
Next: McDonald’s million-dollar lawsuit
8. McDonald’s paid out $1 million for the hot coffee lawsuit
Remember when that woman spilled coffee on herself while she was driving and sued McDonald’s? Remember hearing that she won a $1 million lawsuit for her injuries? All. Not. True.
What really happened was this, according to Mashed: The plaintiff, Stella Liebeck, wasn’t even driving when she was burned by the coffee. She was in the passenger seat of a car when she reached over to take the lid off her coffee and the 190-degree liquid spilled all over her lap. She had third-degree burns and spend eight days in the hospital.
Liebeck asked for $90,000 from McDonald’s and it presented a counter offer — for $800. Liebeck sued and was rewarded for her pain and suffering. The amount she got is undisclosed, but it was less than $600,000.
Next: Funky French fries
9. McDonald’s makes its fries from only potatoes
Around nine million pounds of McDonald’s fries go into the mouths of people each day all over the world, according to Mashed. And they’re eating more than potatoes.
Although McDonald’s burgers are made from 100% beef, oddly enough, its French fries contain lots of “extras.” The fries are made with vegetable oil, dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate, citric acid, and dimethylpolysiloxane, salt.
Next: McDonald’s employees making bank.
10. All Denmark McDonald’s workers make $45,000 a year
In 2015, U.S. fast food employees went on strike, asking for a new minimum wage of $15. In support of those on strike, people began talking about Denmark McDonald’s employees making $45,000 a year.
Although Denmark employees are unionized and make more per hour than most U.S. workers, the majority of McDonald’s workers in Denmark work only part-time. So, the potential is there for Denmark burger flippers to make $45,000 a year, but most do not, according to Mashed.
Next: Does your burger contain ammonia?
11. McDonald’s uses ammonia to treat beef
This is one nasty rumor, and it’s a good thing it’s false, according to Mashed. Because McDonald’s used select lean beef trimmings before 2011, a rumor went around that it treated the trimmings with ammonia. How or why that rumor got started is a mystery,
McDonald’s website states that its burgers are made from 100% pure beef and they are never treated with any chemicals. The only thing your McDonald’s burger is treated with is whatever condiments you put on it.
Next: More meat rumors
12. McDonald’s burgers contain mystery fillers
Aside from being accused of using worms and cow eyeballs as meat fillers, a satirical article stated that McDonald’s used human flesh and horse meat as fillers, according to Mashed. Unfortunately, some didn’t get the joke and rumors began to fly — including one that it added “mutant laboratory meat” to its burgers.
Once again: McDonald’s burgers really are made from meat. All meat and nothing else, including preservatives, fillers, or extenders.
Next: How secret is McDonald’s secret sauce?
13. No one outside the company knows the Big Mac sauce recipe
“Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame-seed bun,” is what comprises the iconic Big Mac. According to Mashed, the burger is the best-selling sandwich in the world — McDonald’s sells about 550 million of them every year.
The special sauce recipe is special, but it’s not secret. Not only do some people outside the company have access to it, everyone does. Just go to the McDonald’s website and you’ll find the recipe so you can make it at home.
Next: You can’t destroy a McDonald’s burger.
14. You can’t destroy a McDonald’s burger — even by pouring molten copper over it
The rumor that McDonald’s burger won’t decompose was bad enough. This one contends that the burgers are so indestructible that you can pour molten copper over one and watch it roll right off, according to Mashed. There’s even a video.
Yes, you can pour molten copper on a McDonald’s Big Mac and watch it roll right off — but you can do the same thing and get the same reaction with any food. The copper rolls off not because the sandwich is indestructible, but because of something called the Leidenfrost effect. When the molten copper hits the Big Mac, the burger’s water content boils and its steam protects it from the liquid metal. Do not try this at home.
Next: McDonald’s has sexy holiday cups.
15. McDonald’s holiday cups are suggestive
Now how the hell are Starbucks cups in the news again and no one's talking about a guy spreading his cheeks open on McDonald's cups pic.twitter.com/QmIuZiDJst
— Sam Sykes (@SamSykesSwears) December 11, 2016
In December 2016, McDonald’s celebrated the holiday season with a newly designed cup featuring a festive background with a pair of mittens on it, according to Mashed. Someone manipulated the mitten image to look more like a derriere and tweeted it.
Rumors circulated that McDonald’s had come out with some obscene holiday cups. The family-oriented restaurant set things straight and told the Huffington Post that, “The altered image circulating on social media is the result of someone getting a little cheeky and adding some hand-drawing to a cup.”
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