Hello, and welcome back to Off The Menu, where we explore the craziest stories about food from my email inbox. This week, we’ve got more utterly batshit tales from fast food restaurants. As always, these are real stories from real readers.
I used to work at a Carl’s Jr. in my hometown. I was back for a few months, and decided to go have lunch at Carl’s Jr. again for old times sake. Here is a transcript of my in store order (to a cashier that was, it is very important to note, definitely a native English speaker):
Me: One Famous Star with extra mayo.
Cashier: What? (Note: “why?” would have been an appropriate question.)
Me: One Famous Star with extra mayo.
Cashier: What’s that?
*I think for a sec*
Me: Uh…a Famous Star with extra mayonnaise on it?
Cashier: I don’t understand…what do you mean by extra mayonnaise?
Me: Just make a Famous Star and put a little more mayonnaise on it than normal…?
Cashier: *Blank stare*
Me: When my friend used to order this, there was a button on the register for extra, and then you could select mayonnaise.
Cashier: *Finds the button, smiles, pushes it, rings me up, gives me my number*
My brother and I are now sitting at a booth, quietly musing over the situation, when someone from the back comes out and runs over to us.
Cook: When you say extra mayo, do you want everything else on it, too?
Cook: Do you want the lettuce, and tomato, and other condiments as well?
Me: Yeah, just make a normal famous star, and put a little more mayo on it than normal.
Cook: Got it.
The burger comes out a couple minutes later. There is at least half a cup of mayonnaise on it. I go through 4 or 5 napkins wiping it off, before I can begin see the burger underneath. Even after wiping it down, I’m sure eating it took a year or two off my life.
With long distance driving a regular occurrence of late, I often am faced with closest-to-the-highway fast-food choices. On the road last week one afternoon (several hours from my destination and out of home-packed snacks), I was hungry. I opted for a medium order of fries at the only joint at this exit — Burger King.
“You want to super-size that?” No, thank you, just the fries.
“What do you want to drink with that?” Nothing, thank you, just the fries.
“You want fries with that?”
I worked as a Starbucks barista for almost two years, and basically every day was a Off the Menu submission. Nevertheless, my favorite may be the time a woman came up and ordered a venti iced coffee, unsweetened, no milk. I slid it over the bar, and she looked at it, completely baffled. I asked if anything was wrong, and she said “Ummmm, well…what’s that white stuff you usually put in?”
I looked blankly at her for at least half a second and then ventured “Milk?”
She shrugged, looking completely blank. “I guess?”
I offered to add milk, listed the options (breve, non-fat, whole, 2%, heavy cream, soy, coconut etc.) and she just stared at me, so I pointed her to the carafes on the bar and told her she could add some “creamy white stuff” there, and if it wasn’t to her liking, I’d remake it. As I recall, she just drifted away, adding nothing.
I just really hoped that the mysterious white substance she was thinking of was milk and not a host of other improbable things.
It’s 2007 and I’m a high school senior on a choir tour of Scandinavia. On our first full day in Copenhagen, the mass of high school students gets told we’re on our own for lunch, and to meet up in the square in the middle of the city about 90 minutes later. Being that we’re all high schoolers in a foreign country, a group of us naturally gravitate towards a McDonald’s (because we’re awful).
Now, unlike McDonald’s in the U.S., Mickey D’s in Denmark is not cheap. Prices are running north of $8 for a quarter pounder. Seeing this and deciding I did not want to spend what little souvenir money I had on a burger I could get for half the price back home, I decide to see what else is out there. I turn to go.
Two steps. That’s the distance I walk before time slows to the same speed TV Networks like to use to show you a gruesome football injury on replay. Mid-step I see him, a small blonde Danish child who we’ll call Hans. Hans couldn’t have been older than two, but he was about to get a lifelong lesson in pain. He crossed into my path as I’m mid-step and unable to stop. I realize what’s going to happen as it’s happening, but it’s too late for Hans. As my foot makes contact with the small boy’s backside, time speeds up, just in time for me to see Hans go flying at least five feet before hitting his face on the door to the McDonald’s.
Time stops at this point. I’m a 17-year-old American abroad. The McDonald’s is now silent except for Hans’s screaming. I can feel people burning a hole through my body with their eyes. A man I assume is Hans’ dad comes running up to me screaming. I don’t speak Danish, but I’m trying to apologize profusely — he’s not having it. He’s cradling the small boy while hurling what I can only assume is the entire book of Danish epithets and curses at me. I don’t blame him, what with the accidental child punting and all.
My friends are frozen in shock. They’re just staring at me and this furious Danish man and his screaming child. They also don’t speak a lick of Danish and thus can’t help me translate.
After a few more apologies and Danish swears I book it out of that McDonald’s. As soon as I leave, I hear police sirens. I run around the corner, where, conveniently, a friendly gentleman with a hotdog cart offers me a sausage and a pepsi for like $4 American. After about 10 minutes of me eating this surprisingly delicious street meat, my friends find me. According to them, those sirens I heard were the cops, on their way to the McDonald’s to investigate a story about an American child kicker.
We left Denmark two days later, and I have not been back since.
When I was 13, I went to a Taco Bell with my grandmother. It was on the late side, certainly past the dinner rush, and in a rural area where the place probably never got that busy. It wasn’t a surprise that we were the only customers in the place. The girl behind the counter is white, in her late teens or early twenties. In the back is the cook, a larger Hispanic man. Other than these two, there are no other employees in the restaurant that we can see.
We go up to the counter, and my grandma orders some combo. I order a large coke and a Mexican pizza. The girl reads our order back to us, but she finished with, “a large coke, and one Mexican penis.”
The three of us all stare in horror at each other for a decidedly long stretch of time, wondering if that really just happened. She says, “Umm…let me try that again,” to which my grandma responds with “Oh, honey, please don’t.”
Meanwhile, the cook in the back, who has completely stopped cooking and has been trying to hold himself together, totally loses it. He can barely stand, he’s laughing so hard. The embarrassed girl has to take our money, and then go make our food. We can hear the cook belly laughing the whole time and the poor girl just looks more and more wretched until we can finally take our food and leave.
As we’re walking out the door, my grandma turns to me and says “I didn’t even know you could get that at Taco Bell!”
Do you have any food-related stories you’d like to see included in Off The Menu?Feel free to submit them to WilyUbertrout@gmail.com. New submissions are always welcome! (Seriously, you don’t need to ask if I want you to send them in, the answer is always yes). If you’d like to stay up to date with OTM news, my Twitter handle is @EyePatchGuy.