6 Horrifying Fast Food 'Hacks' (Tested)
Americans love having the freedom of choice, and nowhere is that more obvious than in the fast food industry. It's not enough that we can choose from hundreds of meals from hundreds of different restaurants. No, we had to invent "secret menu" items to give us even more options. But freedom is a double-edged sword, as I discovered when I tried to make my own secret items, and found that fast food employees will bring your sins to life if you ask them nicely enough.
Saucy Buns (McDonald's)
We've all heard of liquid diets. I don't know what witchcraft makes liquids healthier than solids, but I'm not about to question it. But consuming nothing but protein shakes and blended arugula must get tiring, and inevitably you'd be tempted to break your diet with a good old-fashioned cheeseburger. Well rejoice, health fanatics, because now you can enjoy your favorite fast food in a healthy liquid format! I present to you Saucy Buns: a triple order of Big Mac sauce, Parmesan peppercorn sauce, mayo, Sriracha mayo, sweet onion BBQ, creamy garlic sauce, mustard, and ketchup, all piled onto a nutritious sesame seed bun.
"There's no button on the register for this, dude."
I had anticipated confusion and resistance from employees who still ate old-fashioned solid food, and had prepared myself to fight for the meal I wanted. But nothing had prepared me for the cashier's response of "Sure thing! I'll make sure the cooks know." Then she said, without a hint of judgement, "Sorry it's a bit messy. We did our best to keep it neat." What else have you seen?
Everything looks classier in a wire bowl!
It had never occurred to me that their only response would be to apologize for not making it pretty enough. To the mystery burger craftsman who was roped into creating this oddity: I assure you that you did your best.
It looked like someone had taken every cheese known to man and melted them all into one glorious sandwich. This was the Schrodinger's cat of burgers -- it simultaneously looked delicious and revolting. But when I opened the burger, the superposition collapsed and revealed the true nature of the beast.
And as with the cat, I had no desire to eat it.
The first bite had the same effect on the restaurant as Fifty Shades Of Grey had on the country -- excessive amounts of juice leaked everywhere, and it was extremely awkward for outside observers. The sheer number of flavors overloaded my taste buds, leaving me unsure of what I was actually eating. It just tasted like ... taste. It was everything and nothing, the alpha and omega of burgers.
I'm probably not going to be the star of a whimsical McDonald's commercials anytime soon.
The sauces slowly beat my taste buds into submission, and a clear vinegar base flavor emerged. Most of the sauces mixed together into an unidentifiable mess, but the lack of solids made the pickles in the tartar sauce stand out. Imagine taking a pickle, covering it in mayo and hot sauce, then having a friend chew it up and spit it into your mouth like a mother bird who hates her baby.
This may actually be Grimace's semen.
I ate/drank the whole thing, but still can't claim to understand the appeal of a liquid diet. I now know, however, that McDonald's will help you commit a culinary war crime with a smile. But if you prefer a bit of texture to your meals, I would recommend ...
The Tac-Urr-Acho-Dilla Grande Supreme (Taco Bell)
It's fun to be an early adopter, but it's also getting harder and harder. Our world moves so fast that exciting new developments can form and die horribly in mere moments. The only way to jump on a bandwagon early is to arrive before the band. But it's tough to tell what product will develop into a solid gold rocket-wagon carrying a band of John Williams and the "Gangnam Style" guy, and which ones will crash and leave you stranded alone in the wilderness with Dat Boi.
If you've experienced this disappointment, then I have exciting news! Using my extensive knowledge of the stock market, socioeconomics, and stoner munchies, I've deduced the next innovation in Taco Bell's ever-shifting menu of fast food madness. The staff were upset that I had predicted their next meal, and were insistent that they couldn't stuff a taco, nachos, and burrito into a quesadilla, citing small-minded concerns like "the tortilla isn't large enough" and "it would be an affront to the very concept of civilization." But I wasn't about to let them stand in the way of progress, and eventually they relented.
"Fine, I promise I won't post anything about this on the internet."
I was sworn to not reveal the identity of the Tac-Urr-Acho-Dilla's creators, as they're not normally supposed to make customers one of Lovecraft's Tex-Mex-fueled fever dreams. But while Taco Bell HQ will never know their names, God always will. Assuming the innards of my food don't disprove God's existence.
My stomach rumbles just said "DOOM!"
It looks like a burrito ate another burrito, and then vomited a third burrito out to be served. A bit of digging determined that there were nacho chips buried deep beneath a molten crust of bean and cheese, but they had absorbed so much grease that they were soggy beyond recognition. But the biggest obstacle to consumption was the sheer size of it.
My "What Have I Done?" face is included for scale.
This wasn't just a quesadilla -- this was a newborn fucking baby. And just like a baby, it was leaking mysterious fluids and flopping around so much that I had to be careful to support all of its parts, lest it accidentally snap itself in half. Also like a baby, eating it made me feel guilty. It was like a taco, but ... more. So much more. It was like all of Mexican culture was appropriated, gentrified, and mixed into one big Doritos-filled mess. Specifically, cultural appropriation has a salty-sweet vinegar taste, while gentrification is just incredibly cheesy. For those of you looking to maximize your experience, I recommend eating this while wearing a sombrero and watching old Speedy Gonzales cartoons. But if you'd rather eat something healthy instead of 8,000 percent of your recommended daily cheese intake, you might enjoy...
Breakfast Protein Shake (Dunkin' Donuts)
Most of us spend our mornings struggling to find enough clothes to be considered socially acceptable before stumbling out of the house in a bleary-eyed daze. But we all know that guy. The one who wakes up at 5:00 a.m., goes jogging, and tweets about how well the beautiful sunrise went with his kale smoothie, and all while you're still trying to remember what soap is for. He's always chipper, he's always looking good, and he's always the worst.
Well, now you can be that guy, with your very own efficient breakfast smoothie. This coffee, bacon, egg, sausage, and cheese protein shake will give you the boost you need to start your day, and provide enough protein to help you get some sick gains, bro.
Stick it in a Nalgene for maximum efficiency.
The Dunkin' Donuts' barista was suspiciously excited to create this. I didn't even order the whipped cream and chocolate drizzle -- he added it on his own, claiming that it should look "fancy." It was a good decision, because it made the drink look somewhat normal, until I went in for an unsettling closer look. If I found liquid like this in, say, a Chinese restaurant, I would probably be on board with eating it. Finding it at the bottom of a coffee cup is a very different matter.
By which I mean it's not really matter at all.
Your average smoothie is thick but, well, smooth. But stirring this felt like I was digging through wet cement. Large chunks of meat, while not visible through the murky depths of the beverage, were clearly waiting beneath the surface. I tried to break them up, but only succeeded in clogging the straw.
Just like mom used to make. (My mom hates me).
Drinking this drew an audience of employees who wanted to play "Gawk at the bozo torturing himself for the brief approval of the internet." They enjoyed the drink significantly, which is good, because it means someone did. I didn't want to drink it, and the liquid's feeling was mutual. Like Chewbacca's shower drain, the straw clogged frequently. What I did choke down felt like bubble tea, except the sweetness was replaced with bitter regrets, and the soft tapioca was replaced with frozen cheese and pig anus. If you want to recreate the experience for free, find a friend with a cold, stick a straw up their nose, and suck as hard as you can. Stop when you taste brain.
The Roast Beefwich (Arby's)
You know what's not healthy? Fast food. You know what is healthy? Veggies. This is the natural order of the universe, and only a madman would dare question it.
Or a madthing.
Arby's line of veggie-filled marketplace sandwiches attempts to bridge that gap and show that fast food can at least appear to be healthy. But I'm not one to be shown up by an oven mitt. If that bastard can combine fast food and health food, then so can I.
It was a daunting task. Arby's sells Marketplace Pecan Chicken Salad Sandwiches, which measure a whopping 7.4 giga-hippies on the scale of things that sound healthy. An easy way to top it would be to throw something "organic" or "free-Range" in there, but such ingredients were sparse. Then it hit me: Sandwiches have bread.
For those of you who have traveled back in time from 2350's War on Scientific Discovery, mankind has recently learned that bread is full of carbs and gluten, both of which are as unhealthy as swallowing a plague rat wrapped in razor blades. But we still need something to contain the sandwich -- otherwise, we're just eating a boring old salad. The solution is simple and elegant: Have the staff wrap the meal in roast beef. And that's it! We've created the healthiest meal on the planet.
Don't forget the cheese sticks for an added protein boost.
Fatty foods are cancelled out by healthy ingredients as long as you don't have any of that damn gluten to tip the scales, so I added mozzarella sticks, brown sugar bacon, and jus for bonus flavor points. Now, I know you think that mozzarella sticks have gluten in them. That's a common misconception -- even the Arby's employees thought that. But gluten is just a fancy protein that comes from wheat, which is a grain. Mozzarella sticks are made of cheese, which is a dairy product, and therefore gluten-free.
It's a simple mix-up.
Despite a long conversation with the staff, there was still some confusion about my sandwich. All the ingredients were there, but they were arranged into more of a salad, possibly in a desperate attempt to amend the heresy I was committing. But with a bit of fiddling, my masterpiece was complete.
The journey to a healthier lifestyle starts with one small step.
It was a perfect blend of health and grease, a glistening pile of meat and veggies. Unfortunately, roast beef doesn't provide the same amount of structural support as bread and its devil gluten. I had inadvertently created the first health food which not only encourages you, but requires you, to eat it by the fistful.
Which technically makes it paleo, too.
It was a never-ending journey of flavor discovery -- crunchy, soft, chewy, stretchy, savory, sweet, each bite different and distinct. It was almost too subtle, but like most problems I've encountered in my life, it was solved with the generous addition of jus.
We're all adults here, stop making that face.
I felt thinner and more energetic as soon as I finished! The sandwich was filling, and considerably tastier than traditional health foods. It is a little messy, but it's still a great addition to the diet of anyone trying to eat healthier.
Update: It's come to my attention that the pecan chicken salad contains apples, which are filled with carbs and therefore unhealthy. I would recommend removing the apples before consumption.
The Cookiewich (Subway)
A growing population of American citizens stop developing their taste buds after the age of eight. This has led to the development of meals like bacon ice cream, chicken and waffles potato chips, and pretty much everything at Denny's. But never fear, child-people! The Cookiewich will get you your fat and sugar fix while slowly introducing you to new flavors.
The Subway staff were perplexed by my request for a cookie sandwich, and initially said no, which frankly makes me question their vision as sandwich artists. But after I pressed the matter, two employees huddled, whispered, and eventually returned carrying cookies.
"The manager says that as long as you sign this NDA and liability waiver, you're good."
"What sort of cheese would you like?" the sandwich "artist" asked. I asked for provolone. It was at this point that I discovered what the staff had been whispering about. They had apparently come to the conclusion that I only wanted cookies and bread, and the cheese question had been meant as a joke. They were wrong, and now here I was, shattering their fundamental understanding of human taste.
The restaurant went quiet as all the employees watched me and the artist. He looked at me like I was an alien, all of his senses confirming that I was real while basic logic argued that I couldn't be. I, meanwhile, stared him down like a man facing a bear, attempting to look stern while simultaneously preparing for the worst reaction. After what felt like a lifetime, the tension broke and we both began laughing, our minds broken just a little bit. And that's the story of how I left Subway carrying a toasted six-inch double chocolate fudge Italian sandwich.
I'm no hero.
The Cookiewich is unassuming, its chief ingredient disguising itself well. But if fairy tales have taught me anything, it's that unassuming packages will contain either wonders beyond all hope or horrors beyond all fear. I attempted to open the sandwich and examine its innards, but apparently the toasted cookies had cooled and cemented the sandwich together with their chocolatey goo. There was only one way in.
Mary statues for blocks around began inexplicably weeping en masse.
It was, above all else, dense. Dense to a startling degree. When chewed, the whole thing dissolved into some sort of grainy, dirt-like mixture. The flavors completely failed to gel -- instead of having a chocolate-flavored sandwich, some bites were all sandwich flavor and others were all cookie, regardless of the actual proportion of ingredients consumed. If I wanted a better mixture, I needed to go bigger.
The Combo Breaker (Dairy Queen)
For my final creation, I wanted to make something so unbelievably stupid and unreasonable that whatever restaurant I went to would have no choice but to deny my request, and also possibly ban me for life. I wanted to create a meal for people who have given up on both nutrition and their own existence.
"Can I get a chocolate fudge blizzard and a chili cheese dog, but can I get the ingredients reversed, so the chili-cheese is in the blizzard and the chocolate fudge topping is on the hot dog?" I somehow asked without having a heart attack just by uttering the words. Surely, this was it. There was no way they'd make this.
"Uh, sure. If that's what you want."
"'Want' has nothing to do with it, son."
I hadn't expected this to work, and now that I had it, I was obligated to eat it. I had flown too close to the sun, and it's not easy to fly after everything I'd put into my body.
The wings aren't so much melting as breaking under the stress.
The hot dog was like ... okay, imagine that you're on death row, and you've just been asked for your last meal. You think carefully, wanting to choose something that will bring you a modicum of comfort as you face down your own mortality. After an emotional reflection on both your tastes and your life, it comes to you. Maybe it's a meal your mother made to comfort you in a childhood that feels oh so long ago. Maybe it's a food you enjoyed sharing with a loved one you'll never see again. Or maybe it's just something you once turned to on long days where you needed a little comfort. Whatever it is, you're confident that it will give you a moment of solace before you embrace oblivion. But then the warden laughs and tells you that you misheard. You're going to be the last meal. Then he ties you up and throws you into a pitch-dark pit of spiders who will slowly eat you piece by tiny piece over the coming days -- days during which you will feel nothing but incredible agony and extraordinary regret as you long for the death you once feared. That would be preferable to eating this hot dog.
The blizzard was worse.
Behold the instrument of your destruction, which even light fears.
Its horror was indescribable, but the madness that it induced was not. I assumed it would be bad, but I was not remotely prepared for how bad it would be. It was like the Pandora's Box of ice cream. All the evil of the universe had been condensed into some soft serve, and I foolishly decided to open the box with my face.
Be thankful scratch 'n' sniff GIFs haven't been invented.
My taste buds ceased transmitting flavor, and instead simply said "bad." Throwing up would have been an improvement in taste, and it would have spared me the task of eating the damned thing. But the universe was not so kind, and so I choked down the entire cold and greasy mass. This was not a blizzard. It was a storm.
This is the kind of thing where survival is the crueler punishment.
The blizzard was the last straw. I was done. I had embraced my freedom and become a husk that held only grease and regret. You're free to do whatever you want, but remember that sometimes, accepting that you're too dumb to enjoy your freedom is the smartest choice you can make.
See what could go wrong with your food in The 5 Worst Things You See While Working In Fast Food, and make sure not to miss out on Pizza Hut's free small animal with every meal in 4 New Fast Food Deals (For People Who Hate Themselves).
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Check out Robert Evans' A Brief History of Vice: How Bad Behavior Built Civilization, a celebration of the brave, drunken pioneers who built our civilization one seemingly bad decision at a time.