Whether you love fast food or loathe it, the cultural impact that these often-franchised, quick service restaurants have had is mind-boggling. They’ve become a staple of long road trips, midnight snacks, and the weekends that are too exhausting to cook. You might even snag a fast food meal just as a simple, ever-so-slightly guilty treat every once in a while.
However, while fast food has become a prolific type of cuisine, not every quick service item merits your hard-earned dollars. Some of them are simply overpriced, while others can’t measure up to the cost in terms of taste and texture. In fact, some of these unfortunate products fall into both of these negative categories.
But which fast food items aren’t actually worth your dollars? And what exactly makes these eats such a rip-off? Well, get poised to help out your bank account, because we’re about to critique many a terrible, garbage can deal. These are the fast food items that aren’t worth the money.
Burger King’s coffee just doesn’t cut it
If you’re a fast food restaurant employee, then there’s a pretty good chance that you sell coffee at your local franchise. McDonald’s does it, Taco Bell does it, and even Subway does it. Even Burger King sells these hot, caffeinated beverages for ultra-cheap prices. Yet, unlike some other quick service brews that at least taste one, you can safely skip BK’s brew.
But okay, what makes Burger King’s morning juice especially egregious? And that the answer to this question isn’t a trick, some reviewers reckon that it just tastes weak, burned, and plain bad, making it one of the worst fast food coffee offerings out there. In 2021, Insider pretty well panned the stuff, writing, "This brew had very little flavor and seemed to be both watery and burnt, which did not make for a good combination." Harsh, but fair.
Ergo, if it’s early morning and this is the only place where you can buy a coffee, then perhaps you should get one if you’re absolutely dying for a caffeine fix. If dire straits, it’s possible that you might still pay for this caffeinated product. But please don’t say that you haven’t been warned. It’s not worth even the spare dollar in your pocket.
Extra guacamole means extra costs
There’s no denying it, for a stack of people guacamole is unambiguously a desert island condiment. As one user on Twitter put it, "Guacamole slaps tho". Or, as another user wrote, "i love guacamole so much bruh like why is it so good".
However, while guacamole is a stellar item in the taste department, it’s also frequently an overpriced extra in the restaurant biz. As Plate IQ reported, adding supplementary guac to your burrito typically costs the joint making it an additional 52 cents. And do you want to know how much a restaurant will typically charge you for your precious bonus guacamole? They’ll typically charge you a whopping two bucks, meaning that this addition has been marked up by a whole 285 percent!
Therefore, be wary if you’re in a fast food drive-thru and the person on the other end of the speaker asks if you want some extra guac on that burrito bowl. Because that additional item has the potential to be absurdly overpriced and you could just get ripped off.
Pizza Hut’s personal pan pizza math doesn’t work out
In 1983, Pizza Hut launched its personal pan pizzas, and they’ve been a mainstay ever since. Yet, while these items have been on their menu for ages, they’re not necessarily worth the price of admission. This is because according to the franchise, these pies are six inches wide. Fast Food Menu Prices claimed that most of them cost around $4.79. Now, these numbers possibly don’t mean much to you, but they can be pretty deceptive. As math teacher Eddie Woo put it on Twitter, a pizza that’s larger than another similarly shaped pizza is wider in every direction. You don’t need a degree in mathematics to realize that, compared to a 14-inch extra-large pizza (via Pizza Hut), the prices just don’t add up.
With all of that in mind, Omni Calculator proves that Pizza Hut’s $4.79 pies are a worse monetary value than their $14.99 ones. By their calculations, the larger 14-inch pizza would be 43 percent cheaper per square inch than the 6-inch personal pan pizza. It would also be covered with over 20 percent more toppings. So, discard that nostalgia for the personal pan pizza and just get the bigger one. You’ll ultimately get a better value.
Soda is marked up in the extreme
Soda is a central pillar of the fast food industry. It can be purchased in almost every single quick-service franchise in America. It’s also one-third of the downright classic burger combo. It has a prevalence that shouldn’t be understated.
But while this is the case, buying a soda from a fast food chain is probably not worth it. As Daily Finance reports, these drinks can be incredibly lucrative for the restaurants that are selling them. In 2010, a single one of these drinks would cost a chain between five cents and 20 cents to whip up. This means that a fast food Coke that costs $2.50 could be making a staggering profit for the business, but clearly not for the customer.
So, does this mean that someone’s a fool for enjoying a carbonated beverage with their burger? No, of course not. However, consider purchasing your soda from a less pricey establishment. Or perhaps you might even get creative and make a batch of these carbonated drinks in your home.
Tim Hortons Chicken Strips just aren’t very good
Yet, while this publication had nothing negative to say about Tim Hortons Chicken Strips, many members of the general public soon did. MTL Blog reported that a load of users on Twitter had complained that these items were too small and too expensive, making for a pretty disappointing fast food experience. Furthermore, multiple accounts had written more negative comments about this product’s sizing and price than mere generalities. Yup, these users claimed that six bucks would only get you three puny pieces of the joint’s chicken.
For the time being, this Tim Hortons item is only available in Canada. Nevertheless, if you ever find yourself in one of these establishments, then maybe give their chicken strips a miss and just order something classic, like the Timbits. Ultimately, these sad chickens bit just don’t seem like they’re good enough to demand your dollars.
Any Starbucks food item is seriously expensive
It’s not controversial to state that Starbucks has a humongous number of food items on its menu. As it so happens, their website reports that they’re selling over 100 unique menu items, though you won’t find each one in a single location. But how many of these products are actually worth buying? Probably none of them. As Eater explains, Starbucks locations don’t have the right kitchens to make a lot of food items from scratch. Hence, many of their meals have to be delivered to each shop in frozen form and quickly heated up before serving.
With this info in mind, there are many quick-service joints out there that cook up fresh food that hasn’t been completely pre-made. So, why buy some food from a Starbucks at all? Sure, feel free to get your coffee from there, but it’s possible that you’ll find a better meal at a different dining establishment, likely for a better price than what they want for a microwaved sandwich.
Cheese on your Whopper might be a misstep
Here’s a fact that all of you lactose fans might loathe: Burger King’s Whoppers don’t come with a slice of cheese. Yup, their website has outlined that this sesame seeded burger contains a patty, lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup, and mayo — and that’s it. Fortunately for some, BK has tweeted that you can add sliced cheese to your Whooper. But unfortunately for the same people, Inc. has reported that it’s severely overpriced.
In 2018, getting a slice of cheese on your Whopper would cost you 50 cents. Inc. found that anyone can buy 480 slices of Kraft American Cheese in bulk for around 15 cents per slice. This means that if BK gets their cheese at this price point, then they’re making huge dividends. In fact, they’d be making about a 233 percent profit on every slice of cheese.
Inc. reported that it’s possible that Burger King’s raking in an even bigger share of cash just from cheese slices, as there’s a strong likelihood that they are purchasing their cheese at an even lower price point. This means that getting a slice on your Whopper isn’t at all worth it.
White Castle fries are a disappointing purchase
When it comes to the french fry game, White Castle plays it very differently compared to some of its competitors. Unlike McDonald’s, Burger King, or Wendy’s, this chain’s potatoes are crinkle-cut, giving them a different texture. Is it worth it financially, though?
Being a non-conformist doesn’t necessarily make you superior. White Castle’s crinkle-cuts are indeed often slammed as the worst fast food fry of all. That’s right, this joint scored the wooden spoon for its bland, squishy fries that leave most diners sorely disappointed for adding this menu item to their order.
So, if you’re a White Castle diner, then perhaps you should save a bit of cash and skip their fries completely. It turns out that you’re probably not missing out on much. Besides, you’ll maybe get the chance to pick up some golden, deep-fried potatoes elsewhere in a deal that will please both your tastebuds and your wallet.
Sour cream markups might make you feel pretty sour yourself
Guacamole isn’t the only blisteringly expensive add-on that one can add to their meal. Plate IQ claims that sour cream is also marked up by a frankly absurd amount. According to their calculations, putting some sour cream on a burrito could cost a restaurant only 19 cents. However, many fast food places typically charge a dollar for this addition. And thus, a place with roughly the same figures would be hiking the price of their sour cream up by a staggering 426 percent.
Of course, there’s a chance that you really enjoy this condiment on a burrito. There’s certainly no shame in that. You might potentially reckon that it cuts through the dish’s spice and improves the overall texture. But be that as it may, do you really want to purchase a bit of sour cream that’s over 400 percent marked up? Surely it should be better to go without some. You could also pretty easily make your own burritos at home with cheaper sour cream bought at the grocery store.
Pizza Hut’s Pepperphoni disappoints everyone
Throughout the short history of fast food, we have created quite a few vegan fast food options. Take, for instance, Baskin-Robbins’ non-dairy chocolate extreme ice cream, which they’ve said is completely free of animal products (via Baskin-Robbins). Or, if you’re craving something savory, Dunkin’ has asserted that their hashbrowns are an entirely vegan snack (via Dunkin’).
But regrettably, not every vegan fast food option is a winner. This brings us to Pizza Hut UK’s Pepperphoni pizza. This pie features dairy-free cheese, a meat substitute pepperoni, and a tomato sauce base. It has also been slammed by more than one reviewer. Euronews wrote that the vegan cheese is "cardboard-esque." Meanwhile, Becc4 noted that they were "hoping to really love this pizza but I just can’t seem to get on board with it. The taste just wasn’t great and I definitely wouldn’t have it again."
This item isn’t available for US diners just yet. Let’s just hope that it never leaves Britain. And more importantly, let’s hope that Pizza Hut creates some better vegan options that can be ordered in all of their stores worldwide.
Bottled water is a serious ripoff
Like its carbonated cousins, bottled water can be ordered at many a fast food joint. The similarities between these items don’t stop there, either. This is because, as Business Insider revealed, bottled water is incredibly overpriced.
In 2013, they reported that a bottle of water can be over 300 times more expensive than just getting the same sort of product from a run-of-the-mill tap. Furthermore, Food & Water Watch has stated that 64 percent of bottled water comes from municipal water systems. This means that, in accordance with Water & Waste Digest’s classification of municipal water, bottled water is very often the same stuff that comes out of your sink. All that plastic creates a fair amount of waste, too. And before you get any grand ideas, carton water is hardly better.
Therefore, if you’re craving a swig of water when you’re out, then you should strive to get some from a regular old faucet. Or, bring a bottle of the stuff from home, perhaps in a more environmentally friendly reusable bottle. Either way, we shouldn’t be purchasing these scams when all we really want is a burger.
Anything delivered from an app carries hidden costs
Getting a meal delivered to your door as you stay snuggled up on the couch can be a wonderful experience. You don’t have to change out of your sweatpants, turn off your Netflix, or stand in a queue just to get some fast food. All it takes is one app to buy a Friday night feast. And what could possibly be wrong with that? Absolutely nothing, except for the fact that no less than The New York Times reported that these meals can be heaps more expensive when purchased through an app.
The figures that The New York Times found were astounding. Two turkey sandwiches bought at a Subway restaurant cost The New York Times $12.58. However, if they had bought the exact same items from Grubhub, their order would’ve been 25 percent pricer. Additionally, DoorDash had this purchase marked up by 25 percent, Postmates by 63 percent, and Uber Eats by 91 percent.
Now, there might be times in your life where you have to order food to be a responsible human being and, you know, feed yourself. However, keep in mind that these apps are ripping you off. If you have to do this, take a few minutes to shop around for the best deal.