Why is hard to order cheese on a bun at a fast food restaurant?

One of my three year olds has decided the thing for him is just cheese on a bun, no meat.

I think of myself as a polite, friendly, non-troublemaking fast food customer, but this ordeal has started to make me question myself on this front. I’ve tried it about five times now, and every time, it takes minutes for the poor cashier to figure out how to ring it up, usually more than one attempt for the cooks to serve it up, and this last time, for some reason, they decided I must want cheese sauce on the thing rather than a cheese slice. I took it, so it doesn’t count as a second attempt needed this time–but still, not correctly done, and a strangely unnatural interpretation of the order.

I have worked at McDonalds, though that was decades ago now. This kind of order was not a problem at all for us. We happened to be able to just hit “minus” followed by “meat”. No prob. Clearly cashiers this day don’t have that “meat” button for whatever reason, but I still can’t figure out why it’s so blamed difficult to

A. Understand what I want
B. Communicate this to the cooks

even if the latter has to be through a shout rather than a button on the cash register.

What do you think?

Have you ever heard the expression “there’s three sides to every story, his side, her side, and the truth?” I wonder if you asked the cashiers what they would think of your order.

It doesn’t have to be that, of course - there are plenty of McD’s cashiers that would balk at anything out of the norm. But without being there and seeing what you do when you order, and the mannerisms you use, etc, it’s hard to say which side of the counter the problem exists on.

I’m not saying this to dog on you, just trying to explore the issue so maybe you can get your cheese sandwiches more easily.

Start eating at In-N-Out. They will whip one up for you no sweat. $2.35, IIRC.

I wish fast food places would just put this on the menu, it seems like it would be good for kids. I’m guessing they don’t want to offer a lower-priced item. I know plenty of places will make it, but since it’s not on the menu board, you are literally ordering off-the-menu, which is something I see as a bonus if you get it, but not a thing to be counted on.

My suggestion is the next time you are at your local fast food place, once you reach an understanding of what you want, ask the cashier what is the best, most clear way to order it again in the future.

The other thing I do is pull the meat off the cheeseburger and make myself a double, and give the kid the bun and cheese back.

We’ve had similar issues trying to order fast food for our vegan grandkids. You wouldn’t think ordering a menu item without meat or cheese would be a big deal, but it always turns into one and half the time they still get it wrong.

Try going to Popeye’s Chicken.

Order two (large) beans and rice. Tell them in one container you want all rice and the other container you want all beans.* This simple concept confounds them for some reason.
*For those that don’t know, they normally fill each container with half rice and half beans.

I’ve never worked in a fast food restaurant, but from what I’ve heard, and from what I’ve read on Behind Closed Ovens, they have to deal with a lot of crazy people and/or crazy management. So, I would guess, that with any random fast food person, if you were there their first week or two and asked for cheese on a bun, or splitting beans and rice into their own containers, they’d be able to do something without too much trouble or confusion. But after working there a while, they’ve had several requests where the request seemed simple and obvious, and they gave the customer what they wanted, but the customer got upset because that wasn’t what they asked for. Or even the customer lost their shit and started yelling and throwing stuff. Or it’s a simple request, and the customer is a reasonable person, but there are weird franchise rules that make the simple request a lot more complicated. So now anything too unusual would cause them to get worried or overthink things.

I agree with delphica, that next time you go through this and get what you want, then you should ask the cashier about what specifically you should say or ask for next time. It’s not foolproof, and the magic words at McDonald’s will probably be different than at Burger King, or maybe even at different McDonald’s, but maybe it’ll help.

I think you should just bring a package of buns and a few individually wrapped American cheese slices with you.

I lovvvvvvvve Popeyes, but I cannot imagine trying to make any kind of special request at the one (that used to be) here. In fact, most of the Popeyes I’ve been to have not exactly been the pinnacle of customer service.

Frylock, if you think it’s hard to order cheese on a bun you should try ordering anything *without *cheese. It’s a total pain in the ass for the same reason your special request is; because it is out of the ordinary. I’ve never known what’s so freakin’ odd about not wanting cheese. and now that it seems there are a lot more vegetarians around (at least it feels that way) I’d think someone would program the no meat option into the register.

These are both brilliant solutions.

[Bobby wants plain toast, which isn’t on the menu]
Bobby: I’d like an omelet, plain, and a chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast, no mayonnaise, no butter, no lettuce. And a cup of coffee.
Waitress: A #2, chicken salad sand. Hold the butter, the lettuce, the mayonnaise, and a cup of coffee. Anything else?
Bobby: Yeah, now all you have to do is hold the chicken, bring me the toast, give me a check for the chicken salad sandwich, and you haven’t broken any rules.
Waitress: You want me to hold the chicken, huh?
Bobby: I want you to hold it between your knees

Aren’t cash registers at these joints set up with buttons for each item on the menu? If it’s not on the menu, no button. And it’s not like they’re hiring the local geniuses to run the registers.

I don’t see what the problem is in ordering something without cheese. When I worked fast food, we had a key that let us punch “no cheese” into the order. Same with no pickles or onions or whatever. So you could order a quarter pounder or deluxe burger with no cheese and it would go up on the monitor with the rest of the order. It was no pain in the ass for us at all as it was not out of the ordinary.

Although I admit an order for a bun with no meat would have left us scratching our heads.

Why is that?

Pulling the meat off the cheeseburger doesn’t work because the cheese is melted to the meat.

Bringing our own also doesn’t work (though no one here could be expected to know this) because if we’re at a fast food place, it’s because we’re away from home and didn’t really think ahead.

No key for it on the register.

As to how I order, I’ve tried different approaches.

“A cheeseburger, but with only cheese, nothing else, not even meat.” (This was what I said the first time, but of course calling it a ‘cheeseburger’ is confusing.)

“A bun with only cheese on it, nothing else–not even meat.”

“Kind of like a grilled cheese sandwich, but on a hamburger bun” (Said to clarify after the first round of confusion sometimes.)

“You can charge me for anything you want but what my kid wants is just cheese on a bun, can you do that?”

Stuff like that.

Oh got it. I mean, why not just key in “cheeseburger plain” and then yell it back? I see them yelling stuff back all the time. We certainly did it in my day.

I wonder if this means that the cheese is added directly to the hamburger patty while it’s on the grill. If so, it’d mean they’d have to figure out an alternative procedure to assemble a cheese sandwich.

You might have better luck at a place like Subway.

The waiter at Applebees saw that I was only eating the meat and leaving the bun behind. He asked me why I don’t just order a burger no bun. I said, because that seems to confuse the heck out of your people. I can just imagine trying to get a bun-free burger at McDonald’s.

Good luck in your quest, Frylock.