#949 Ordering off the menu at fast food restaurants

McDonald's Neopolitan Shake

[digg=http://digg.com/food_drink/Ordering_from_the_secret_menu_at_fast_food_restaurants] Ever had a neopolitan milkshake from McDonald’s?

One where they layer the chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla flavors in the same cup, creating a thick, icy, slow-moving light-brown-swirls-with-pink-flecks taste sensation? Yeah, my friend Chad was a regular customer of those. Of course, when he was working at McDonald’s he got sick of the regular menu pretty quickly and started tinkering in the back like a mad scientist with his coworkers, developing exotic, unstable, and unpredictable meal creations with the ingredients on hand. Yes, there were failed attempts, like the Chicken McNugget Flurry, but sometimes they struck gold and created a new off-the-menu line extension. I guess this is fairly common, because there are reports of online McDonald’s employee communities, where insider recipes such as the McBrushetta and McPancakeBatterFunnelCakes are shared.

Now, my world opened up when I first realized with Chad that you could order off-the-menu at fast food restaurants. Since that time I’ve learned about a few other secret options around. Like for instance:

Wendy’s – The Grand Slam. If the single, double, or triple hamburgers at Wendy’s just don’t cut it for you, just go all out and order the massive four-patty grand slam. Also known as the Classic Quadruple or The Meat Cube.Freshly squeezed and piping room temperature

McDonald’s – Fries with Big Mac Sauce. Lots of people put fries right on the burger, which I agree tastes delicious. But this technique allows you to switch things up a bit and put some of your burger’s best feature right on your fries. Try to ignore protests from your arteries, and just ask for that a little cup of Big Mac Sauce on the side for dipping.

Starbucks – The Red Eye. A cup of coffee with a shot of espresso dumped in. Now, I’m not a huge coffee drinker, but apparently you can even upgrade this to two shots which is called a Black Eye.  I presume upgrading to three shots is called a Jumpy, Unblinking Eye.

Most Fish & Chip places – Batter Bits. I knew a girl who was all over these. She’d lean in and guiltily ask in a hushed whisper and the guy behind the counter would nod slowly and hand over a wet, greasy paper bag full of all the batter drippings that fell into the oil by accident. Yeah, this is the bottom of the barrel of off-the-menu stylings. It ain’t always pretty out there.

In N' Out's famous animal-style burger

In-N-Out Burger – Animal Style Hamburger. The well-known ‘secret menu‘ at In-N-Out features this heavenly gem — their regular burger patty cooked in mustard, then topped with extra pickles, extra spread, and grilled onions. Yessir, In-N-Out will whip anything up — including messy Animal Style Fries or even a 100×100 order (100 patties and 100 slices of dee-licious cheese.)

Subway – The Pizza Sub. Apparently this one’s like sasquatch. There are scattered sightings everywhere and a few grainy videos that may have been tampered with. Another favorite from Subway, though not technically a menu item, is simply ‘the old cut’, where they dig a trench in your bread instead of just slicing it, leading to better cold cut and veggie distribution. Also known for causing The Wing Effect, where your bologna hangs out the sides of your sandwich for some tasty pre-nibbles.

McDonald’s – Big Mac with Quarter Pounder patties. One last McDonald’s fixture — the ol’ bun-heavy Big Mac surgically altered to become a meat-heavy Big Mac with Quarter Pounder patties instead. Now you’re much less likely to get that dreaded All-Bun first bite.

Starbucks secret short cup

Starbucks – The Short Cup. Even though the smallest size on the Starbucks menu is a ‘Tall’, they do offer a secret ‘Short’ size behind the counter. Perfect for that between-coffee-breaks coffee.

Now, I’m only one man, so I’m sure there are hundreds of great off-the-menu gems that I’ve never heard of or know about. But that’s the beauty! There are all these little surprises just waiting to be discovered. What possible fast-food mouth love will we discover next?

Ordering off the menu at fast food restaurants is a great deal. Maybe you’re the loyal customer looking for that new taste. Maybe you have strict dietary restrictions so it’s either off-the-menu or no-menu-at-all. Or maybe you’re just a grumpy guy who makes flippant off-the-menu requests with a deep scowl and a foot-stomp.

But whatever the case, whatever your background, whatever your taste, I think we can all agree that it sure is nice getting a little something special for lunch now and then.


A 100x100 burger at In 'N' Out

 Photos from: here, here, and here

358 thoughts on “#949 Ordering off the menu at fast food restaurants

  1. I work at Starbucks. If you know what kinds of syrups and such back there, you can mix and math into interesting things. If they’re selling Vivanno’s, try asking for a Blended Orange Mango Lemonade.

    Also, Coffee + 3 shots of espresso is a Green Eye, at least at my store

  2. I have seen the pizza sub I used to order and once upon a time it was on the menu.

    Also when I worked at pizza hut we made Cinnamon Rolls out of cinnamon stick ingredients, but good luck trying to order them.

  3. A secret one up here in Canada at Tim Hortons is ordering the “Breakfast Sandwich” on a bagel instead of the tea biscuit bun. Makes the sandwich quite hefty! Also I know a lot of people who order their Ice Caps with chocolate milk instead of coffee.

    1. its actually chocolate milk instead of cream. and now some actually ask if you want cream, milk or chocolate milk

  4. Lol I guess I should have excepted the pizza sub to be a rare gem when I went another state and they had no clue how to make it. I just figured that people from Oregon were retards for putting chicken on there pizza subs.

  5. Really, I miss the days when everybody had some kinda corporate mascot. Well, In & Out doesn’t need a corporate mascott.. imagine if they just had some kind of ravagingly, angry blood-thirsty Vampire as their mascott. That would be great, but you would automatically think they’d need to go forward with some kinda ‘animal’ mascot since that’s what they’re known for – animal style.

    A vampire is still a great mascot.. we’ll have to wait until later this year, maybe around Halloween, if anybody is going to grab this un-used, iconic mascot as their choice.

    I’m all for tastier sandwiches, so however subway cuts it – use some knife with embedded cheese power.. for example, in Final Fantasy, you can have a sword with “Ice” or “Fire” power, how about “Cheese”? It doesn’t have to be a large knife, only large enough to cut some bread..

  6. Don’t forget that ordering the “short cappuccino” from Starbucks is, in fact, the only way to get a true cappuccino from the phenomenon.

  7. Don’t forget the Barnyard from Wendy’s. Spicy chicken breast, ham, bacon, and beef with cheese between each layer.

  8. Good post, I was inspired and wrote a little more of my thoughts on the topic, but wanted to add that the best part of ordering off the menu at a place like McDonalds is that they have to make your food fresh and you won’t get the BigMac that’s been under the heat lamps for an hour. It’s not just fast food either, you can order from the “secret menu” at places like Applebees and TGIFridays too. Most places are so eager to please they’ll give you whatever artery siezing combo you can come up with from the ingredients on the menu.

  9. Wendy’s “Chili Chips and Cheese” is exactly like it sounds and is delicious. Basically a scaled down taco salad or nachos, it was dropped from the $0.99 menu in the mid nineties to make room for nuggets, potatoes, etc. They still have it though (that’s what those bags of tortilla chips are for, that they no longer use for the taco salad). Get some hot chili sauce with it for super extra delicious fun time.

  10. At my Starbucks they call three shots in coffee a “JFK.”

    If you’re a fan of the pumpkin spice latte, there’s a combination of white mocha, hazelnut and something else you can get that tastes exactly the same and can get all year ’round. Your barista can probably make it.

    You can put anything in anything, there. Try a Banana-Strawberry Vivanno or a black-and-white hot chocolate if you don’t like coffee like me.

  11. Panera Bread has the Panera Club.
    Lettuce, onion, tomato, mayo, mustard, combo meat, swiss cheese, bacon, & avocado on rye. yum.

  12. you can get a 2 cheeseburger meal at mcdonalds, it used to be on the menu but no more. at least that’s what i thought, now it’s all i ever get!

  13. Years ago I worked at KFC for three years. I was the “head” cook and thus got bored with the normal day to day stuff. Some of the things I came up with was donuts on the weekend mornings (Take a biscuit, warm it up, mix in some sugar, kneed into a donut shape. Drop in fryer and glaze (mixture of butter and sugar)). In addition, I used to make grilled chicken strips. Would use the tender roast seasoning they used to have and put them in with the tender roast chicken. There was also the mashpotatoe and chicken strip burrito topped with gravy. We even took it to the next level and deep fried it. The possibilities were endless! On a side note, we used to take the Styrofoam containers and put them in the top of the warming cabinets. In about 10 minutes they would shrink down to 100th their normal size. Would you like a small? :)

  14. One great thing about Taco Bell is that you can order pretty much anything that they have offered for a “limited time only” at any time. Even if it isn’t on the menu, because they design their menu around things they already have in the store, all they do is adjust the levels of inventory.

    Like the cheesy gordita crunch.

    1. I tried to order one of their Platters after they took them off the menu, and they refused.
      How hard is it to sell me something you already have?

  15. I used to work at a subway (pre-toasted days) Depending on the subway, these former “Subs of the Month” may be available:

    Pizza sub: 10 slices pepperoni per 6 inches, marinara sauce down the middle, cheese on top, sprinkle w/ parmisan & oregano. If they order peppers, onions, or olives, put them under the cheese, then microwave for ~25 sec.

    Taco Sub:
    Cheese, Taco meat, crushed tortilla strips. top with veggies of choice, salsa & sour cream.

    Ceaser Sub:
    Grilled chicken, crushed croûtons, an ceaser dressing with your choice of veggies.

    Also- the “old cut” was the “U-cut”: proper technique DID NOT result in a “V”. The “Hinge” cut worked well if you tipped the sub on the side while eating with the cut on top.

  16. In my city, fast-food experimenting is commonplace.

    We don’t have a Wendy’s, but if you go to McDonald’s or BK and order “The Quad”, they know exactly what you’re talking about.

    Our favorite fast-food place to experiment at is DQ. My brother got the idea to order plain toast there. We also combine Blizzard ingredients (the best one is Cookie Dough and Peanut Butter Cups).

  17. It’s not really off the menu, but most people don’t order the fajitas at Whataburger, although they are delicious. Order it with steak and it will typically be made fresh because fajitas are the only thing on Whataburger’s menu made with steak. Ask for cheese – but make sure you specify shredded cheese or they’ll throw on a slice of American and ruin the whole thing. This was originally suggested to me by a very pregnant Whataburger employee.

  18. At Del Taco I get the bun taco. Used to be on the menu years ago. Not listed now, but they’ll make it if you ask for it. Basically it’s taco fixin’s between 2 buns. Kind of expensive for a taco, though. I think it’s $2 or $3. Back in the 80’s Taco Bell used to have something similar, I think called the bellbeefer.

  19. I’m a manager at Domino’s Pizza and the team members (and I) are always making crazy off menu items. One perennial favorite is a pizza with chicken kickers cutup and used as a topping. We also will sometimes go to the supermarket down the street and pick up toppings we don’t carry. The weirdest things always come from the managers during really slow shifts though. I’ve made everything from a form of baklava (dough, stretched out as thin as possible and then folded with butter and honey between every layer) to caramelized pineapple (pineapple bits with cinnamon sugar, run through the oven a couple of times).

  20. If a Big Mac at Mcdonald’s is too much get a “Mini Mac” its a regular cheeseburger dressed as a Big Mac.

    Also I used to get Ice cream cones there but with a shot of hot caramel in the bottom of the cone. No special name but it was yummy.

  21. At Taco Bell, ask for the Chicken Burrito sans wrap…you can get it in the Fries Supreme container, with rice, chicken, and veggies. I developed this when I used to work there a long time ago, and actually suggested it to a customer–who often used to come back for the same order!

  22. The next step after a black eye at Starbucks is called a brown eye. That’s right, three shots in your brewed coffee.

  23. I used to live in California and at In N’ Out you can order just a plain Grilled Cheese (no onions). They will do just about anything you want because it is all made fresh right there.

    I used to get the green sauce at Taco Bell if I couldn’t get to Del Taco for their green bean burritos, but here in Georgia I have tried to get the green sauce and they don’t even have it :(

    My husband and my son have been dipping their McDonalds french fries in chocolate milk shakes for years.

  24. The extra shot in your coffee is called a Turbo Hot at Dunkin Donuts.

    jay: Is the Barnyard at Wendy’s for real? That sounds fantastic!

    Carzand: The Big MacChicken sounds delicious as well.

  25. The Burger King sauce is what Utahn’s call Fry Sauce. It’s basically a mix of ketchup and mayonnaise. The things I’ve learned since I’ve moved to this weird backwards state!

    1. Ahh… I miss fry sauce. Since moving to California, I’ve gotten used to asking for a “side of mayo”–always AFTER they’ve rung me up and given me my food, just in case some wise guy wants to charge. ;)

    2. I lived in Utah, and Fry Sauce is one of the things I miss most. Kethup and Ranch works great too, which they serve at Red Robins. Now I just get funny looks when I order that side of mayo and mix it up myself.

  26. When I worked at Poppa John’s I brought in eggs and made a breakfast pizza with eggs, sausage and other common omlette ingredients. If you work at Poppa Johns try throwing some eggs (pre-scrambled or mixed) and Italian Sausage on top of a thing of dough and send it through. That oven cooks eggs perfectly!

    I also would make faux calzones sometimes by throwing one pizza on top of the other.

  27. starbucks:
    passion tea lemonade with half lemonade half apple juice, and for the tall 1 pump classic syrup, 1 pump melon/ grande 2 classic 2 melon/ venti 3 classic, 3 melon.
    its the BEST, used to make these for friends all the time.

    and a customer favorite:
    strawberries n cream frap with a pump of mocha syrup and chocolate chips.

  28. Pizza sub at subway is standard up here in canada yes, but next time you order one ask for the chicken on top with extra cheese.

    Chicken Pizzola or some such, most will do it, and it’s like chicken parmasan in a sub, great stuff.

  29. Up until a few years ago, our Wendy’s around here had hand-battered fried chicken. They started carrying it around 1990 when I was a manager. I had experimented with a spicy blend of the chicken using the standard breading mix and a small bit of the dry chili seasoning (hot stuff!). The blend I used pretty damned tasty. I tried to tell upper management (district managers et al) about it, but got in trouble for wasting product; such actions were for the test kitchens to create, based on consumer trends and demands (blah, blah, blah). Wendy’s stopped carrying the best chicken ever a few years ago.

    One concoction that most employees still know about is the “suicide.” It’s a shot of Coke, Sprite, Orange and Mr. Pibb or Dr. Pepper. Keep alternating shots until the cup is full. That’s some sweet stuff.

    Speaking of sweet, if Wendy’s still sells their big cookies (single serve 4″ cookie), ask for one out of the freezer. Or, order a Frosty and a cookie (warm it up) and crumble the cookie into the Frosty. They made me the fat guy I am today!

    1. when i was younger we’d call a mixture of coke, sprite, orange, rootbeer, etc “swamp water” Did it at 7-11 a while back forgot how sweet it was.

    2. Used to work at McD`s… called mixing the pop swamp water.. so sickly sweet, yet suprisingly tasty!

  30. Make sure you order “Sparkle” spice mix with your Popeye’s Chicken and when at Wendys, get a ketchup packet and mic it with one of their chili packets for your fries for some spicy ketchup…

  31. I hardly ever order off-menu except at Chinese Restaurants. I order the the sweet and sour shrimp but instead of the sweet and sour sauce I ask for the sesame sauce (which I only ever see on the menu with chicken) and it’s delicious!!! Every Chinese restaurant I’ve been to where I asked has always done this for me.

  32. The U cut at Subway is the way to go. Unfortunately most “sandwich artists” these days look at you stoned and stupid if you try to explain it to them.

    Robert, when I worked at Wendy’s we made the Barnyards a few times a week.

  33. My Mom orders the McDonald’s Big and Tasty “dressed like a Big Mac”. It’s basically a single patty 2-piece of bread Big Mac that’s also a buck or two cheaper.

  34. My cousins in Oregon said a friend at the Dutch Brothers coffee drive thru was mixing hot chocolate and eggnog and calling it nignog. Mmm… warm drinks with a side of racism.

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