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Fast food uniforms

  • p

I'm working on a magazine article about the uniforms worn by fast-food employees (both current and past). Does anyone have any experiences or recollections regarding particularly notable -- or notably awful -- developments in fast-food attire?

-- Paul

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  1. I have been reading about McDonald's hiring designers to have a go at the staff attire. I attached one article below.

    Link: http://www.chicagotribune.com/busines...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Coyote

      Not to sound snotty, but Tommy Hilfiger would be perfect.

    2. No, but if you want to sound erudite, you could read Paul Fussell's book, "Uniforms."

      1. I distinctly remember those hideous polyester brown uniforms from Burger King back in the late 70s-early 80s. And the women had to wear those silly bonnet-like caps. I felt so bad for them.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Eric Eto

          I worked at Wendy's in the mid 80's and the women had to wear these bandana like 'hats' the men had caps. I asked the manager repeatedly to allow me to wear a cap as I had long straight hair and the bandana would always slip off even when I used bobby pins. He refused since they felt the women looked more feminine in the bandanas (with blue polyester slacks and a pin striped apron - yeah oozing sex appeal) anyway, once the thing fell off while I was stirring the chili -INTO the chili. After we threw the batch of chili out the manager finally allowed the women to wear caps

          1. re: Eric Eto

            ha. i worked at burger king during high school in the early 80s and wore that very same awful brown and yellow polyester uniform. this discussion brings back a very strong sense memory of the smell of hamburger and french fry grease that was permanently embedded in my uniforms, no matter what my mother did to try to clean them. she would hang them in the basement after washing them, so the smell would not permeate my other clothes. when i read the quote from the mcdonald's exec about designing uniforms that their employees would want to wear outside of work, my first thought was there's no way that man has ever worked in one of his own restuarants. no employee would want to carry that smell around with him or her in public.

            1. re: Pate'

              How about the rest of the outfit? That has to be the WORST uniform in the fast food industry. Everything about it screams "Laugh at me!" Plus, the girls (they're always girls) have to do that stupid lemonade churning dance in front of everyone in the mall.

              1. re: nooodles

                Those uniforms were the first things that I thought of when I saw this thread.

                When I was in high school, I wondered why those girls would choose to work there and wear those scary outfits; there was not exactly a dearth of jobs in the mall. They didn't seem particularly unhappy, either--maybe Hot Dog on a Stick paid more!

                1. re: gina

                  My first image also. Those uniforms have transcended tacky, and have transported their wearers (or "the possessed") into some weird fast food cosplay realm.

                  1. re: Shep

                    "3. What is the story behind the Hot Dog on a Stick™ hat and uniform?
                    The Hot Dog on a Stick™ uniform, including the hat, was inspired by a whimsical mid-1960s trend when jockey caps and hot pants were in style. The employees say the hats, which are hand-made and customized to fit each new employee, make their jobs more fun and enable the company to attract enthusiastic, outgoing and good-natured employees, and draw attention to the store"

                    I gotta tell ya, as I read the self promotion on the website, I kinda stopped laughing and started paying attention. How many businesses of any kind offer any real sort of vesting to their employees? Maybe those clown suits are the proud uniforms of triumphant syndicalists.

                    Or, maybe not.

            2. The **worst** uniforms that I have ever seen were some of the double-knit polyester uniforms. You are working in a 70 year-old hospital kitchen located in the basement with no air conditioning during the summer months in the deep south.

              It is even worse when you are using a fryer in a similar uniform.

              A lot of kids will no longer work a fast food place with a dopey uniform. Places like McDonald's have been proactive in designing more humane uniforms.

              1. A local small coffee shop chain makes its employees wear berets. Their motto is "the real coffee of italy." Now, I have not been to Italy, but I was not aware the italians were big beret-wearers. Am I incorrect? I'm also pretty sure, even though I've never been to italy, that any italian would be appalled at the coffee offered in this establishment.

                Also, is Hooter's considered fast food? There's some recognizable uniforms.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Jess

                  the most offensive thing about the Hooters uniform is that the servers have to wear "suntan" pantyhose under your shorts.

                  I pantyhose are bad enough, but "suntan" is the worst!

                  1. re: Becky


                    What, so the uniform isn't sexually suggestive or something?

                    /disgusted, not amused

                2. I'm remembering something fictional, in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, when Judge Reinholdt is wearing a pirate type outfit from his job and goes out to make a delivery, and a girl keeps giving him looks and he's flirting with her, then looks in the mirror and tears his hat off and quits (if I remember correctly).

                  1. When my son was in high school - about 18 years ago - he worked for two days at Burger King. When he came home the first night our dog went nuts -- really nuts!! My son smelled so awful - no, not true, smelled good to the dog - that we all knew he couldn't continue on!!

                    1. j
                      janet of reno

                      Jay Leno had a bit the other day about how Mcdonald's is designing new uniforms so nice that folks would want to wear them even when they weren't working. Did anyone else see that? I guess Mcdonald's claim was that they were so nice you would wear them if you went out, and Jay pointed out that if you work at McDonald's you probably can't afford to go out anywhere other than McDonald's.....

                      1. In the late '70s, I worked in Roy Roger's, a fast food restaurant. We wore short bandana shirts and puffy white blouses. Oh, cowboy hats, too. During one particular special, we had to wear large round buttons (pinned on) on our chests that said "We're Big on Long Island."

                        1. j
                          JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

                          I worked at an A&W in the 90's before they got bought out by Yum (the same people who inflict Taco Bell, KFC, Long John Silver's, and Pizza Hut on us). I think the location owner held these uniforms over from the late 70's or early 80's, they were very thin shirts (close enough to sheer that you had to wear a shirt underneath), thin brown and white stripes and a solid white collar. It was truly the most hideous piece of clothing I've ever worn.

                          Then there was working at TGI Friday's, home of the cheesiest uniforms known to man. Even though the red and white striped soccer shirt, vest with eighty-plus buttons on it (I have no idea where they all came from, they just... collect) and hat bigger than one's head are no longer the uniform there, I still preferred it to the black polo shirts they have now; the current uniform makes them look just like any other Ruby Tuesday or Chili's.

                          Link: http://thecosmicjester.blogspot.com

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

                            "vest with eighty-plus buttons on it "

                            Ah, so that would be the "flair" goofed on from the movie "Office Space." Shows you what you don't learn by not going to TGI Friday's.

                            1. re: K. McB.
                              JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

                              And yes, flair was the official name for it. Minimum was 10 pieces; you got one freebie in the nametag, another freebie for location and award pins, all the rest are the waiter's own. Same went for the hats- no big box o' hats in the back, you had to get your own.

                              Link: http://thecosmicjester.blogspot.com

                          2. My Ponderosa Steakhouse uniform from the early 80's combined many of the features noted below including bad polyester fabric and stupid hats, but the absolute worst thing was that we girls had to wear what we called hotpants - it looked like a miniskirt from the front and back but with shorts underneath, and slits on the sides so that the shorts were exposed. Not as revealing as Hooters shorts, but not that far off. At least I was 17 and had the legs for it. But it was still a happy day when they caved and allowed us to order knee-length skirts instead.