Out Of The Frying Pan And Into The Fryer – 40 Facts About Your Favorite Fast Food Chains

The American fast-food industry is worth billions of dollars today, with establishments such as McDonald’s, KFC, and Burger King occupying a distinct place at the heart of the country’s culture. But all these companies have their quirks. Did you know, for example, that one place used squid ink in some of its burgers? Or that another once shot its produce into space? There are some crazy facts out there about fast-food restaurants, so here we look at 40 of them.

40. Pete’s Super Submarines

Subway is one of the most recognizable brands on Earth today, but it wasn’t always known by this name. During its earliest days before 1968, the sandwich store was called Pete’s Super Submarines. This was in dedication to Dr. Peter Buck, one of the men who had set the company up.

39. All I want for Christmas is… KFC

All over America on Christmas day, families sit around a table to gorge on a roasted turkey and all the sides that come with it. But for some households in Japan, the traditional Christmas dinner is a little different. Rather than spending hours in the kitchen, they simply run down to KFC for some of the Colonel’s finest chicken.

ADVERTISEMENT

38. All about presentation

There was once a time before 2013 when Pizza Hut bought more kale than any other company. This is no longer the case, but the fact that it used to be true is quite surprising. Especially when we consider that Pizza Hut never actually offered kale as part of its menu. So why did it purchase so much? Well, the company decorated its salad bars with it.

37. The mighty McRib originated from a chicken shortage

ADVERTISEMENT

Since the 1980s McDonald’s has teased its customers by having the McRib sporadically appear and disappear from the menu. But if it hadn’t been for a lack of chicken, we might never have had it at all. Basically, the product was developed in the wake of the Chicken McNugget’s invention. People loved the McNuggets and wanted more than the company could supply – so an alternative menu item was needed. And with that, the McRib was born.

36. The Colonel loved White Castle

Having opened up back in 1921, White Castle is generally considered to be America’s first-ever fast-food joint. The restaurant laid the groundwork for other places like it to develop – and it welcomed some important patrons. None other than Colonel Sanders is said to have frequented White Castle outlets, with the KFC founder even stating that his most-loved food came from there.

ADVERTISEMENT

35. A trivial name

ADVERTISEMENT

In 1958 siblings Dan and Frank Carney got a loan of $600 from their mother to open a business. With the cash, the pair remodeled a small bar into a pizza restaurant – but they needed a name. The thing was, though, there was only space for eight letters on their sign. So they decided to just call it Pizza Hut.

34. Burger and a steam

If you’ve ever felt that eating a burger isn’t quite as relaxing as it could be, then you’re in luck. Head to the Finnish capital of Helsinki, and you can enjoy a Burger King and a steam at the same time. The chain opened up a branch inside a sauna in the city, meaning you can consume burgers, fries, and even alcohol from the comfort of the spa.

ADVERTISEMENT

33. Jason Mraz’s side hustle

ADVERTISEMENT

On top of his success in the music industry, pop star Jason Mraz also has another line of work. When he’s not on stage or in the studio, he spends his time on his avocado farm. And if you’ve ever been to a Californian branch of Chipotle, then there’s a chance that you may even have eaten some of his produce. According to reports, he supplies the restaurants with around 30,000 pounds of avocado each year.

32. Wooden cheese

If you notice a faint oaky quality to cheese from a fast-food place, you might not be going crazy. Wood pulp – disclosed in ingredient listings as “powdered cellulose” – is sometimes put in cheese to stop it from being too sticky. Reports have suggested that this is the case for the cheese in a spicy chicken wrap from Wendy’s.

ADVERTISEMENT

31. An “exotic” name

ADVERTISEMENT

Were it not for painter Don Anderson, the franchise we know as KFC might well have been called something different. Anderson had been called in to paint a sign for the original outlet, but the name hadn’t yet been decided. But when he arrived, Anderson suggested Kentucky Fried Chicken. He thought that it had an “exotic” ring to it.

30. The Waffle House Index

If there’s been an earthquake or a hurricane, the first thing to do is… check if your nearest Waffle House is open. That sounds crazy, but it’ll tell you how bad the damage has been. In fact, there’s even a so-called Waffle House Index. If the index shows you green, that means the restaurant is fully operational, and local infrastructure is working well. If the index shows you yellow, then the Waffle House is only offering a partial menu because water’s flowing, but the power’s out. Red means that the restaurant is shut, and both power and water have been cut in the area.

ADVERTISEMENT

29. Never missing a trick

ADVERTISEMENT

If you’ve ever been within the vicinity of a Cinnabon outlet, you’ve probably been enticed by the smell wafting from the place. Well, this isn’t an accident. The Wall Street Journal has reported that it’s company policy to put cinnamon rolls in the oven every half-hour so that the signature smell draws in customers. And apparently some outlets have been known to simply bake sugar and cinnamon just to keep the smell around.

28. A Friday sandwich

The Filet-o-Fish has been on the McDonald’s menu since 1962, but not necessarily for the reason you might think. It may seem like that the sandwich was invented to offer patrons with a healthier seafood alternative to hamburgers. But it was actually created to appeal to Catholic people on Fridays. You see, this is a day on which some Catholics have traditionally avoided meat.

ADVERTISEMENT

27. Even the Queen of England wants in on the famous golden arches

ADVERTISEMENT

If you’re ever in Banbury Gateway Shopping Park in Oxfordshire – which isn’t very far from the English capital of London – you should call into the area’s local McDonald’s outlet. At a glance, there’s nothing particularly special about this place. You might say it’s a little fancier than some McDonald’s branches, but you wouldn’t necessarily realize that it has a famous owner. But the property is actually controlled by the Crown Estate, meaning that the Queen is effectively the owner.

26. Eau de Burger King

There’s a range of fragrances on the market these days, but it’s unusual to find any that smell like hamburgers. It’s not impossible, though. Back in 2015, in fact, Burger King introduced a cologne to the Japanese market. Wearers would be covered in “the scent of seduction with a hint of flame-broiled meat.” Delicious.

ADVERTISEMENT

25. Starbucks’ not-so-classified location

ADVERTISEMENT

Starbucks has a mind-bending number of outlets around the world, but one in Langley Virginia, is a little different to the rest. Here, patrons’ names aren’t scribbled onto the cups and the receipts given out list the place as “Store Number 1.” So why all the weird secrecy? Well, this branch happens to be located in the CIA headquarters.

24. Accidental success

Sometimes, it isn’t a person’s primary project that brings them success. And it’s fair to say that Steve Ells knows this from personal experience. When he finished up at culinary school, Ells wanted to set up a restaurant for fine dining. But to finance this endeavor, he opened up a more casual establishment. It was called Chipotle.

ADVERTISEMENT

23. In good shape

ADVERTISEMENT

If you’re hungry, you probably don’t have the restraint to examine your McNuggets before gorging on them. But if you did, you might notice that there are four distinct shapes to them. And they’re each known by a different name – there’s the bone, the ball, the bell, and the boot.

22. The king of tie-ins

Fast-food restaurants offering products that promote movies is a fact of life nowadays, but it wasn’t always so. In fact, it was Burger King that first did this back in 1977. And when we consider that the film it partnered up with was Star Wars, it’s not difficult to understand why the tactic caught on.

ADVERTISEMENT

21. Subway’s interesting ingredient

ADVERTISEMENT

There was a time in which Subway added a chemical known as azodicarbonamide to its bread. This ended up catching people’s attention, as the component is also used in the manufacture of yoga mats. There was public uproar about the ingredient, however, and the chain phased it out of its sandwiches.

20. A donut handle

Have you ever dunked a donut into your coffee and pondered that there must be a better way to do so? Well, before 2003 there was one. Dunkin’ Donuts once sold a donut that came with a handle, specifically designed to allow for easing dipping. Unfortunately, the product was halted because it was too complicated to make.

ADVERTISEMENT

19. Toys and fries

ADVERTISEMENT

McDonald’s is one of the most recognizable fast-food restaurants on Earth, but it also holds another crazy distinction. In addition to all those burgers it provides, McDonald’s is also known to distribute more toys to consumers than any other business. It’s a surprising fact, but when you consider how many Happy Meals are sold in a day, it makes sense.

18. A bug shake

If you enjoy milkshakes or juices from fast-food joints, then you might be getting more than you bargained for. Many of these products have been known to contain carmine, a coloring agent made from crushed insects known as cochineals. Starbucks, for instance, used to add carmine to its Strawberries & Creme Frappuccino, but it later changed the recipe. Still, though, if you want to avoid bugs in your shakes, keep an eye out for the ingredient.

ADVERTISEMENT

17. A scientific wonder

ADVERTISEMENT

Despite its name, the McRib doesn’t actually contain a single rib bone. The McDonald’s favorite was actually invented in a lab, created using novel techniques similar to those used in sausage production. The resulting food product was initially similar in appearance to a pork chop, but McDonald’s later insisted on shaping it like ribs.

16. Space delivery

In 2001 a Russian cosmonaut named Yuri Usachov got a special delivery while he was aboard the International Space Station. A pizza had arrived, having made its way from Earth on a Russian rocket. The delivery hadn’t come cheap, though, with Pizza Hut reportedly spending around a million dollars on the project.

ADVERTISEMENT

15. Hungry Jack’s

ADVERTISEMENT

If you find yourself in Australia with a hankering for a Burger King, you might be perturbed to discover that you can’t locate a branch. Don’t despair, though. Burger King can be found in Australia, it’s just known by a different name. Down Under they call the franchise Hungry Jack’s.

14. KFC 2.0

Although his face is still plastered all over the franchise today, it turns out that Colonel Sanders actually fell out of love with KFC. After the brand’s recipes changed over the years, the Colonel grew to dislike it so much that he even tried to set up a rival called Claudia Sanders, The Colonel’s Lady. This was in dedication to his wife, but it wasn’t very successful. KFC even took him to court, and he eventually sold the business.

ADVERTISEMENT

13. Convenient and tasty

ADVERTISEMENT

Your nearest Waffle House outlet can actually be so helpful. It’s open 24/7, and it can make package deliveries a whole lot easier. That’s because all over America, branches act as official meeting spots for users of Roadie: a delivery service app. This works by having users collect other folk’s packages and dropping them off along the way during a trip they were taking anyway.

12. For a rainy day

When people get caught up in a rainstorm in Southern California, they can at least seek consolation at Subway. Whenever it rains in the region, the sandwich chain’s outlets have a special offer. Customers get a free small sub or soup when they buy their own sandwich and a 30-ounce beverage.

ADVERTISEMENT

11. The vertical Subway

ADVERTISEMENT

Constructing One World Trade Center was no mean feat, and the laborers on the site obviously needed to eat. So Subway came up with a way to get its sandwiches to them. A moveable restaurant was created, which was capable of moving up and down the structure. This meant that workers didn’t have to spend their breaks making their way down to ground level.

10. A Big Mac and PB&J, please

In the early days of McDonald’s, a number of experiments took place with regard to the menu. The brand obviously offered its customers traditional hamburgers and fries, but there were also some quite unorthodox choices available. The craziest, perhaps, was a helping of fries, served with peanut butter and jelly.

ADVERTISEMENT

9. Shaq’s burgers

ADVERTISEMENT

There was once a period when basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal was the owner of 155 branches of Five Guys. At the time, this number represented about a tenth of all Five Guys restaurants. According to Shaq himself, the burger industry treated him well, but he eventually sold his shares on.

8. The LGBTQ+ community’s beef with Wendy’s

In 1997 a famous episode of sitcom Ellen was broadcast, during which Ellen DeGeneres’ protagonist stated that she was gay. This unfortunately wasn’t greeted positively by everyone, with fast-food chain Wendy’s pulling its commercials from Ellen in response. And with that, the gay and lesbian community decided to boycott the restaurant.

ADVERTISEMENT

7. A whole lotta chicken

ADVERTISEMENT

Whenever a Chick-fil-A outlet opens its doors for the first time, the company runs a special event at the new location. People bring tents and camp outside the store, queuing up to gain entry when the place finally opens. And why do they do this? Because the first 100 people to make it inside get to eat for free for an entire year.

6. McPizza

Younger people might not realize that McDonald’s once sold pizzas in some of its outlets across America. But it’s true. Back in the ’80s and ’90s a number of outlets nationwide offered pizza with a range of topics. It didn’t work out, though, because pizzas took too long to prepare.

ADVERTISEMENT

5. KFC detective work

ADVERTISEMENT

One day, Mike Edgette made a discovery on Twitter. He noticed that KFC followed a limited number of accounts on the platform. These were the five ladies that once made up the Spice Girls, as well as six people called Herb. Edgette put two and two together, realizing that this was a reference to the components that supposedly make up KFC’s coveted recipe. For his sleuthing, Edgette was rewarded with a painting of Colonel Sanders carrying him on his back. He later tweeted, “Dreams DO come true.”

4. Pharrell’s pricey hat

When Pharrell showed up at the Grammys in 2015 wearing a rather ostentatious hat, people were quick to note its similarities to the logo of Arby’s. So, when the pop star decided to auction the thing on e-Bay, there was only one bidder that was ever going to win. Arby’s itself purchased the headwear for over $44,000, which was donated to charity.

ADVERTISEMENT

3. Futuristic deliveries

ADVERTISEMENT

A company called Nuro has spent the past few years trying to create autonomous vehicles. The startup’s even managed to see these things dropping groceries off to homes in the cities of Houston and Phoenix. And in 2019 news emerged that Domino’s was going to use the cutting edge inventions for getting pizzas to households.

2. Inky burger buns

For American sensibilities, these squid ink burgers might be a little on the maverick side. But it seems that Burger King felt comfortable rolling the jet-black dishes out in Japan. For a brief time back in 2014 customers in the Asian country could order burgers with black buns, cheese, and sauce.

ADVERTISEMENT

1. Ronald McDonald is always close by

ADVERTISEMENT

There’s an old saying that states you’re never more than six feet from a rat at any given time. Now, on top of that, we can say that Ronald McDonald is always within 115 miles of everyone in America. And if you’re in a city, there’s almost certainly a McDonald’s branch that’s far closer than that.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT