Yes, I know that fast food is not good for me, but that is the reason that I like it. Fast food is designed for low price and fast delivery. That is why it is important to make sure I get the freshest food possible. For years I’ve been hacking my fast food experience by making one small change. But the kiosks popping up all over the place is making my fast food hacking more frequent.

The kiosks suck.

As an app developer I hate the interface and the machine’s inability to be intuitive. The machines are designed for the masses, those that sheepishly order what makes the fast food establishment the most money – sodas. Fast food restaurants make the most money from sodas that cost them pennies to serve. Thus, the restaurant’s menu is designed to steer consumers towards the meal packs that include sodas.

Sodas are the worst health part of the food served by fasts food restaurants.

Try to make a simple change, and the kiosk forces you to finger-click multiple screens until you get to make the change you want to make.

The simple change is customizing the food. For example, remove pickles from the burger.

This is the hack I’ve been doing for several years now to avoid being served a food item that has been under a hot lamp for hours.

Although fast food is not good for me, I nonetheless want the freshest food I can get. To avoid the dreaded hot lamp food, I simply customize my food item.

For example, in the case of a burger I ask for no pickles.

This forces the food preparer to make a fresh burger for me. But it must be the pickle.


Because I’ve witnessed fast food preparers take a hamburger from the hot lamp tray and remove the lettuce, or tomato and then serve you the burger.

If you like pickles, then ask for no ketchup or mustard.

You need to ask for the removal of something that is hard to take off to force the food preparer to make you a fresh food item.

However, now with the rise of kiosks it makes making changes to the food item much more difficult as you must drill down several screens to make the change.

I go to restaurants to avoid having to prepare my food or work to get it delivered to me.

Additionally, the kiosks just plain annoy me. So how do I avoid them?

It is simple, insist on paying with cash.

Most of the kiosks I have encountered so far do not have a provision for accepting cash payments.

Thus, a restaurant worker must take your order, where you can ask to have it customized.

McDonald’s is the only kiosk I have seen that allows you to place your order and pay for cash. But it requires you to place the order electronically and then go to the cashier to pay for the order.

However, the training of the employees on the automation and the system’s inability to cohesively work with the other automation in the restaurants ends up forcing the employee to reenter the order at the cash register. So now, I just avoid the kiosk and go straight to the cashier.

I realize that eventually automation will take over the fast food industry as their largest expense is labor. At that point I may not be able to hack my way to a fresh burger. Until then, I’ll continue to hack my way past the kiosk as my silent protest for automation’s labor war and because I want an occasional fresh fast food burger.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...