Young and Hungry

Secret Fast-Food Menus: Truth or Myth?

starbucks cup

Not that your friendly Y&H is a cynic, but when I saw this article on Mental Floss, I immediately thought, "I bet you can't get half of these 'secret' menu items at your local _____ (fill in the fast-food outlet)." So I went to my nearby Starbucks in Adams Morgan and asked the barista for the smallest cup of coffee I could get.

I was expecting one of those thimble-sized sample cups.

He wasn't quite sure what I wanted, so he started showing me all the various cups available — the Tall, the Grande, the Venti, the Ubermassenhaft. (OK, I joke about the last one, but only because Starbucks deserves it for corrupting the language.) Among the cups he showed me was this petite white cone that holds a reasonable eight-ounce pour.

"That's what I want," I told the barista. "I've never seen those before."

"We use them for espresso," he said, noting that I could also use it for coffee.

"Why don't you include those sizes on the menu?" I asked.

"They're too small."

I ignored what I considered an illogical response — too small? why? because they need to get everyone hooked on 20-ounces of pure, caffeine-injected java? — and went to the cashier. She didn't bat an eye over my mini-coffee, either, and promptly rang it up. It was around $1.60 (they rarely give me a damn receipt!) or about 20-some cents cheaper than the "Tall."

Frankly, I'm not interested in the savings. I'm interested in the smaller serving. Most afternoons I crave coffee. What I don't crave is 12 ounces of coffee. Sure, I could order the Tall and just not drink it all — but I always do.  Then I live to regret it, usually through a jitteriness that manifests itself in ADD Web-surfing and the inability to concentrate longer than, oh, 10 seconds at a stretch.

Is this good for the nation's crumbling economy, I ask?

But today, Y&H has hope, not only for his future afternoon coffee fixes but also for the rest of Mental Floss' secret menu roundup. Next up on Y&H's research agenda: See if I can really get green sauce at Taco Bell.

Photo by jerine via Flickr Creative Commons, Attribution License.

  • DcRat

    Dude go for the Cube

  • Mike

    I actually would like to know about the Taco Bell effort.

  • Lou

    Rumor has it McD's has Kobe beef.

  • Dean Gold


    I think it is really that Kobe has eaten at McD's

  • SoCalGal

    It's true that In'N'Out will give you anything you want... except a location in DC :(

  • Mary

    I often ask for the "short" which is the kiddy-size portion of drinks. I think that's the 8oz? It's also the equivalent to a "tall" in Asian countries.

  • Mike Licht

    Are Starbucks employees "baristas"? Not according to the federal government.


  • Nick Cho

    8 oz is indeed a "short" at Starbucks. They always have them.

    When Starbucks first showed up on the scene, they had short, tall, and grande as their sizes. The big Venti(tm) showed up later, and they bumped the short off the menu.

    Notice most Starbucks don't have "espresso" or "espresso macchiato" or "espresso con panna" on the menus anymore either.