Fast Food Lies, Myths and Urban Legends Declassified

It’s hard to ignore the many disturbing myths and urban legends you’ve heard about fast food chains. The fact that these restaurants serve full meals within seconds of taking orders understandably leave people wondering what’s really going on behind the scenes, but luckily, some of the worst rumors have been proven completely false. Snopes has done some deep-digging over the years and debunked a bunch of fast food myths — here are some of the most outrageous.

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Robot takeover

A whole series of reputable news outlets claimed that Wendy’s was rolling out self-service kiosks where customers could place their orders and pay without dealing with human employees. So basically, robots would replace employees in the face of rising minimum wage requirements, which is a pretty dire look into our future. But you don’t have to worry about the rise of the machines just yet. In 2016, they did add self-service kiosks to about 30 restaurants, but considering there are more than 6,500 locations in the US alone, that’s a tiny percentage. Their official statement was that they weren’t replacing workers at all, they were just shifting the balance of their duties elsewhere.

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Dairy-free

You go to Dairy Queen for ice cream, right? Well, not exactly, and the fact they technically call it “soft serve” has led to the rumors their products are dairy-free. This is a potentially horrible thing for someone to tell a friend who’s lactose-intolerant or allergic to dairy, because it’s not true. DQ calls their delicious frozen treats “soft serve” because their recipes don’t meet the FDA guidelines for what can be called “ice cream.” Their soft serve falls short of earning the title because it doesn’t have enough butterfat. Still, the first ingredients in the soft serve are milkfat and nonfat milk, so while DQ’s signature dessert might technically be low-fat, it’s definitely not dairy-free.

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Coffee, donuts, pot

There was a story going around that Tim Hortons was breaking into the marijuana market with the spreading legalization of the drug — and many customers were excited about the early morning one-stop-shopping possibilities, including Canadian stand-up Mark Critch … “You’re already buying your weed in the parking lot, I’m just saying go inside where it’s warm!” But it turns out, the original story came from a site called The Global Sun, which is a spoof news site like The Onion. Tim Hortons hasn’t made any official statements about becoming a coffee-and-donuts-and-marijuana shop … though the move would probably give their donut sales a huge boost.

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No meals for the homeless

McDonald’s was painted as the bad guy when a rumor started circulating that they banned customers and employees alike from buying meals for local homeless people — but no, it’s not true. The rumor started on a site called True Activist, and a couple incidents in England helped fuel the rumor mill. In one, a man was reportedly denied service because employees thought he was homeless, and in another, a local teen claimed she hadn’t been allowed to buy a meal for an elderly homeless man. In both cases, McDonald’s not only apologized but stressed they had no such policy in place. It’s also worth giving a special shout-out to McDonald’s in East Asia, as many of their 24-hour locations open their doors to those in need of a dry, warm place to sleep.

Mother’s Day lunch

It’s not entirely unthinkable that Chick-fil-A would offer moms a free Mother’s Day lunch. So when images and advertising appeared on social media in 2017, people believed it — but it wasn’t true. Apparently, the ads were nothing more than some old-fashioned social media trolling, done just to cause some uncomfortable moments for families and Chick-fil-A employees alike. After all, who’s going to get the blame when a family goes out for Mom’s free meal and the doors are closed? Also, Mother’s Day is on the second Sunday in May in the US, and Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays, meaning, moms who show up are out of luck.

Free food for life

It’s usually easy enough to enter one of those “free food for life” giveaways: just send in your email, share a post, and you’re entered to win a few free-food passes being given away to celebrate an anniversary. Sounds like something they’d do, right? It’s been linked to nearly all the major fast food chains — and no, it’s not real. Clicking on any links takes you to a Facebook clone site, then asks you for information many people might not think twice about entering — especially when there’s free food involved. But they’re all scams, so don’t be fooled.

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Pig fat shakes

You’re probably familiar with the unusual texture of McDonald’s shakes. It’s different than other fast food shakes, and that’s led to a whole series of rumors about them — including one particularly nasty claim that they use pig fat. It’s just not true, and McDonald’s says not only is there no pig fat in their shakes, but there are no meat-based products of any kind, and they’re safe for vegetarians. In 2013, McDonald’s Australia shut down the pig fat question, too, claiming that the thick, distinctive texture comes courtesy of the blending and cooling process the shake goes though.

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