Peering behind the fast food curtain is a risky business. You know the old saying about curiousity killing the cat? In some, less salubrious institutions, there’s a chance that that cat may well end up in your dinner. No one wants to know that Mr. Tiddles got turned into a pattie. We’d much rather munch our burgers in blissful ignorance.
However, just like the Pandora’s Box of legend, once the secret’s out, no amount of frantic lid-closing can force it back in. As soon as you’re exposed to the horror, it can scar you forever. This is the bleak reality that faced fans of Panera this week when a now-infamous viral video revealed the less than appetising method by which the chain’s mac ‘n’ cheese is produced.
Check out the original clip here:
In a clip that has now been seen more than 10 million times on Twitter, a Panera employee can be seen reaching into a cardboard box full of creamy sachets of pasta, before plonking said packaging into a sous vide machine to cook. The resulting slurry is then emptied from the bag, before being presented for service. Scrummy.
The cooking method on display caused consternation among fans who were presumably labouring under the illusion that a crack team of Italian cooks spend their days skulking in the depths of Panera kitchens up and down the country, cooking food fresh to order. Some times, the truth hurts.
Reactions ranged from sadness to full-blown disgust. As one Twitterer put it, “Someone said Panera is just hospital food and this proves it.” Another added, “yoooo I definitely had plastic in my mac and cheese before from panera (sic).” The (possibly dead) cat was out of the bag.
It has since emerged that the employee responsible for releasing the video, who can be seen smiling at the end of the original clip, has been fired from her position. According to the New York Post, she later tweeted, “Lol i lost my job for this.” Sometimes, whistleblowing requires sacrifice. Just ask whoever unearthed that Trump phone call.
However, despite the furore around the video, some people couldn’t understand what the big deal was. As an unflustered commentator wrote:
“I don’t get what she’s exposing? Did people really think there was a chef hanging out in the kitchen of Panera Bread making their Mac and Cheese?” one user tweeted. “This is literally how every fast food joint operates, don’t be fooled.”
Clearly, once you’ve peeked behind the curtain, not much bothers you anymore.