Chain restaurants such as McDonald’s and The Cheesecake Factory garner super-fan loyalty, but just how well do customers know their go-to spot? Burger King connoisseurs probably didn’t know that the chain goes by a different name down under because of a copyright issue — or that McDonald’s was initially a barbecue restaurant that even had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the menu.
Whatever surprises these restaurants have up their sleeves, it shouldn’t make you love them any less. A lot can happen while operating over generations. But fair warning — this list may send you down a rabbit hole after reading every mind-blowing insight. Let’s see how many of these little-known facts about popular chain restaurants you already knew about (and while you’re at it, check out our favorite 50 fascinating American food facts).
1 Subway’s bread had an ingredient also found in yoga mats.
2 Burger King in Australia is called Hungry Jack’s.
While it’s literally the same Burger King taste, there was already an existing restaurant with the same name down under. The then-parent company, Pillsbury, gave franchisee Jack Cowin name options to pick from. He chose Hungry Jack, which for Australia seems very on trend and just as successful as the Burger King we know and love here in the states.
3 Chili’s sizzling fajitas instantly garners more orders.
Chili’s is prepared when they send an order of sizzling fajitas to the table. The smell and sizzle of the dish attracts more orders, so much so that cooks begin preparing more skillets before the orders even come in. This proves that visual presentation goes a long way in the food business.
4 The original McDonald’s had peanut butter and jelly on the menu.
While menu items we know and love from the iconic brand include everything from the classic Big Mac to the McFlurry, that wasn’t the case when the original McDonald’s opened in 1955. Food staples included barbecued beef, ham, pork, chili and even a good ol’ peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
5 It’s absurd what lengths KFC goes to protect the ‘Original Recipe’.
One of the greatest mysteries of the fast food industry is Colonel Sanders’ original fried chicken recipe that the chain still uses today. A signed copy of the recipe is safely stored inside a vault in KFC’s Louisville headquarters. The chain uses two different manufacturers co-dependently to create the recipe so that no one outside of KFC will be in on the secret.
6 Cinnabon low-key bakes empty cookie sheets to attract customers.
While the idea isn’t anything groundbreaking (realtors do this with cookies all the time), Cinnabon realized that baking empty cookie trays coated in their signature sugar and cinnamon mixture can easily sell more product. With many locations inside malls, the smell of their iconic treats can attract any shopper.
7 Wendy’s chocolate Frosty isn’t actually entirely chocolate.
The ultimate question before dipping your fries into a rich Frosty is do you prefer vanilla or chocolate? But in reality, chocolate isn’t fully chocolate. Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas was concerned that full chocolate wouldn’t taste good with a burger and fries, so the chocolate flavor is actually a combination of chocolate and vanilla.
8 The Cheesecake Factory cheesecakes aren’t made at the restaurants.
As good as their cheesecakes are, The Cheesecake Factory’s famous desserts are actually frozen. They’re created on-site at bakery production facilities across the country in California and North Carolina. The tasty cakes served to customers in the restaurants are not fresh, but still more than satisfying.
9 Chipotle’s guac contains avocados from singer Jason Mraz.
If you didn’t know, Jason Mraz owns an avocado farm in California. The next time you take a bite into your burrito with guac from Chipotle it could be from Mraz’s farm.
10 There’s a Starbucks located inside the CIA’s headquarters.
While it might seem like any regular Starbucks restaurant, this particular establishment is located inside CIA’s headquarters. While it may seem like any regular Starbucks, the main difference is that no names are written on the cups. While it’s unclear if orders are often mixed up, we believe for the CIA this is good move.
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