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Food-industry job? Share your horror story

A summer spent serving hot dogs can scar you for life.

By Karen Datko Oct 6, 2009 12:37AM

Daniel at Casual Kitchen gave up fast-food burgers for life after working for one summer at a Burger King. The experience of making thousands of burgers -- and that was 20 years ago -- ensured that he just couldn't face another one. (He can still eat french fries.)


"Being around this food so much cured me of this ‘cuisine' for the rest of my life," he wrote in a post called "Scarred for life by a food industry job."


Dan asked: Do readers have similar experiences to share? That question opened up a mini floodgate. (Our thanks to Kris at Cheap Healthy Good for the link.)

We'll go first: One summer we sold hot dogs at the Philadelphia Zoo and, like Dan with the burger smell, it took a solid scrubbing in the shower to get rid of the hot dog odor and grease. In a restaurant where we once worked, the pasta sauce was made with a cheap mix in a packet and the raviolis were frozen. But that didn't stop them from charging top dollar. We're now more aware of restaurants' tricks.

  • "MikeV" from Dad Cooks Dinner said he avoided McDonald's for years after working there as a teen. "The beeping ... the beeping! Someone get the fries!!!" he recalled.
  • Working at Subway "taught me how scary mayonnaise can be, and how tasteless iceberg lettuce is," reader Kevin said.
  • Kate worked in an ice cream shop that made everything from scratch, including the waffle cones. Only years later can she stomach ice cream in small servings. How sad.
  • A teen job at Dairy Queen cured "Liz C" of the place for many years. The worst smell, she said, was the big vat of "chocolate" -- her quote marks, not ours.
  • For "Martha in Mobile," a summer job in a tomato cannery had this effect: "I can eat fresh tomatoes, I can preserve my own tomatoes and eat them, but commercial tomato sauce still makes me gag 30 years later."

Hard work? Yeah, but it was worth it. Reader Julia, who cooked professionally for five years, wrote, "I learned how to multitask, work as fast as I can, and work through pain." If you've ever done it, you know that's right.


Related reading:

Published Sept. 9, 2009
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