An employee at Panera Bread recently posted a video on TikTok exposing how Panera Bread prepares their Mac and Cheese on site. After the video spread to the point of being featured on
the evening news old media, the employee was afterwards fired.
The video, only seconds long, shows a packet of mac and cheese being dropped into boiling water, then a prepared pouch is pulled out, opened with a pair of scissors, then emptied onto a bowl on a tray. This is set to an audio of a man reacting with laughter. Here’s a link to see for yourself, because why not after just having it described to you?
The video exposes Panera Bread as being fast food with a somewhat fancy dining area and high prices. It certainly busts the illusion of partaking in princely dining with convenience.
Out of irony, I gained an interest in trying Panera Bread’s mac and cheese, but I changed my mind upon arriving at the ordering kiosk and discovering that they want over $8 for it. Eight dollars!? It’s macaroni and cheese; it’s not exactly the stuff of luxury, and it seemed all the more a rip-off after knowing that it’s boiled in a pouch.
I’ve been thinking this for a while, and this provides an opportunity to bring it up: fast food employees are some of the most disgruntled people. It stands to reason considering that fast food work is the butt of numerous class-oriented jokes, but what exacerbates things for them is that a lot of those jokes have some truth to them. Food service workers usually make minimum wage (or less, if they’re tipped), and their work history is stained by virtue of the fact that they’ve spent a significant amount of time working in it. Management is aware of this, and sometimes use the fact that the work is low-qualification to point out that employees can be easily replaced.
If fast food employees could get away with it, they’d stick it to the companies that they work for, as the Panera employee did. But they usually can’t, so they take it out on the next people who wander into their sights: the customers. Customers place orders and make fast food employees do a job that they’d rather not do. It’s true that it’s a job that they applied to, interviewed for, and after being extended an offer, accepted it, and make a decision to return to each day that they’re scheduled, but once a person is in it, it can be very hard for them to get out of, and once they’re in it for a while, they can really come to resent it. And once that resentment comes to a certain level, the customers can become a target for providing business to an establishment that the employee has come to be disgusted with.
In and near cities, visiting a fast food establishment often feels like taking a side in class warfare. But that’s not really intended, people just want something to eat, and fast food dining is usually a compromise with the quality of one’s food in order to have something convenient. In Panera Bread’s case, the quality is lower than what many diners had initially realized.
But now more of us know what’s really going on, thanks to a certain employee that looks more like a whistle-blower than some mere grumbler. What people should be doing when something is wrong is making some noise. Otherwise, any abuse that is occurring is likely to continue. The Panera employee came forward, and while she paid with her job, it may be better for her in the long run.
To paraphrase a point I shared previously: It’s better to be fired by a bad employer than to work for one.