8 Strange Lessons Learned From ’80s Fast Food Training Videos

8 Strange Lessons Learned From ’80s Fast Food Training Videos

These vintage employee training videos contain many lessons, both intentional and unintentional.

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Working a fast food job teaches you endless lessons. Patience, basic math skills, and fryer safety are instilled in restaurant employees while on the job, but there are some even more nuanced and specific tenets that can only be found in corporate training videos for new hires. These videos from across decades of fast food history are works of art in themselves, from the acting to the songwriting to the post-production effects. And buried beneath those star wipes are some valuable lessons that provide us with just a little more insight into the world of fast food restaurants. Here are eight of the strangest ones we’ve found.

Advertisement

2 / 10

Some customers don’t return because they died

Some customers don’t return because they died

To truly drive home the importance of good customer service, Subway decided to share this obviously tactful graphic with new employees in a 1988 training video. There are many reasons why a one-time patron might not become a repeat customer. Maybe the service did not meet their standards, or the food was subpar, or they dropped dead before they could return for another $5 footlong. That 1% figure is small, but apparently not so small that it could be omitted from this educational video.

Advertisement

3 / 10

It’s wrong to upsell children

It’s wrong to upsell children

This Hardee’s 1986 training video has some fantastic sales tips, but the most important is: tricking adults into buying more is totally cool, but draw the line at upselling to children because they’re too naive to see past your expert sales skills. Prior to this segment in the video, the recommendations are all about getting the customer to buy bigger and buy more, but then the narrator makes a serious tone shift when it comes to America’s youth. Bottom line: kids are dumb.

Advertisement

4 / 10

You could die in a Jack in the Box

You could die in a Jack in the Box

Jack in the Box training: Welcome To a Winning Team (1985)

Be aware of the “deadly dangers” lurking in Jack in the Box. The first deadly threat you’ll encounter? Strain on your sciatica. Lift with the legs or it’s all over (see 17:15 in the video above). Another threat to your well-being? Sticking your entire bare hand into a vat of hot oil. If that’s not enough, you could also slip and fall down a flight of stairs because you did not use the railing, per the suggestion on the signage. Jack in the Box seems to want to give employees the impression that working in its restaurants is tantamount to being in a SAW film.

Advertisement

5 / 10

Grilling burgers requires rap skills

Grilling burgers requires rap skills

If you watch these Wendy’s training materials closely enough, you’ll walk away with both newfound grill skills and sick-ass bars. If someone waltzed up next to me while I flipped patties and said “You’ve got to salt the meat to make the taste complete,” you can bet I’d never forget to season the burgers ever again.

Advertisement

6 / 10

Sometimes the secret ingredient is fairy dust

Sometimes the secret ingredient is fairy dust

Pizza Hut Training Video 1988

Chain restaurants like to keep some mystery about them to protect their signature recipes. (Who hasn’t tried to guess what’s in McDonald’s secret sauce?) We learn in this 1988 Pizza Hut training video that the special touch on these pies is, apparently, fairy dust, which “magically transforms our ingredients into the perfect Pizza Hut pizza.” The brief description of what the shaker of fairy dust” actually contains remains vague, even while training employees: it’s described only as a careful blend of cheese and spice. Even the written instructions on the spec chart list “fairy dust” as the ingredient. We can only assume Tinker Bell consulted on the Pizza Hut manual.

Advertisement

7 / 10

Don’t make conversation at the carving station

Don’t make conversation at the carving station

If you’re a Chatty Cathy, there are plenty of great restaurant jobs for you. Bartender, host, person answering the phone—these are all roles where you can talk someone’s ear off. But as this clip from an Old Country Buffet training video shows, the carving station at a buffet is not that place. Sorry, carver, but no one wants to make small talk when they’re waiting for a big ol’ hunk of beef. They just want to grab their meat pile and go.

Advertisement

8 / 10

The restaurant business is like show business

The restaurant business is like show business

If you’ve worked in food service then you know there’s a lot of acting involved. Acting like the customer is always right, for example, or acting like you’re having the time of your life standing behind the register when you decidedly are not. You need to put on a show to make every fast food place feel like the most magical place on earth, and hopefully you can do so without a movie director shouting in your ear the whole time.

Advertisement

9 / 10

POOP is key to customer service

POOP is key to customer service

Once you understand POOP, you’ll be ready to serve up Krabby Patties. The burger chain and its employee training materials might be fictional, but the customer service wisdom bestowed upon us by this episode of SpongeBob is nothing but facts. No matter what burger joint you might work for in the real world, it’s important to remember why People Order Our Patties.

Advertisement

10 / 10