CLOSE
Original image
Alexandra Leon/MiamiNewTimes

10 Secret Menu Items From Fast Food Restaurants

Original image
Alexandra Leon/MiamiNewTimes

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to seek out covert items at fast food chains around the country. Be warned, this mission includes very real dangers such as hardening arteries and skyrocketing cholesterol. But we know you won't let us down. We've compiled a list to get you started.

1. This one might be my favorite. At some Fatburger locations, you can order a Hypocrite — a veggie burger with crispy strips of bacon.

2. In-N-Out Burger's "secret menu" isn't so secret; in fact, they've posted it on their website. But in case you're not in the habit of surfing fast food sites, here's the skinny on the rather un-skinny items: ordering something "Animal Style" at In-N-Out means you're going to get it with lettuce, tomato, a mustard-cooked beef patty, pickles, extra spread (it's sort of Thousand-Islandy) and grilled onions. You can even get your fries Animal Style. "Protein Style" is a burger wrapped in a lettuce leaf instead of a bun. A Grilled Cheese is two slices of American cheese, lettuce, tomato and spread on a bun (grilled onions if you so choose). And you can get just about any combo of meat and cheese that you want if you order it like you're ordering lumber: 3x3 gets you three beef patties and three slices of cheese, 4x4 gets you four of each, and so on. It doesn't stop there. One gluttonous patron requested a 100x100 at an Las Vegas store a couple of years ago. One item not listed on the website secret menu: the Flying Dutchman, which is two slices of cheese sandwiched between two patties, hold the bun.

3. Jamba Juice doesn't officially list these on their in-store menus, but Mighty Foods assures us that the secret flavors exist. The ones they confirmed with the company's headquarters include Strawberry Shortcake, White Gummy Bear, PB&J, Various flavors of Starbursts, Fruity Pebbles, Push-Up Pops, and Skittles. Other tantalizing flavors that are rumored to exist: Chocolate Gummi Bear, Apple Pie, Sourpatch Kid, Tootsie Roll, Chocolate-covered strawberries, and Now and Later.

4. Chipotle has a whole secret menu that is limited only by your imagination — they have a store policy that says that if they have the item available, they will make it for you. Things that have been tested include nachos, quesadillas, taco salads and single tacos. Some stores are testing out quesadillas as a regular menu item, however, so maybe someday soon you won't need a super-secret handshake to order one.

5. If you're at Wendy's and you're really hungry — like, three-patties-just-won't-cut-it hungry — go ahead and order the Grand Slam, which is four patties stacked on a bun. It's also known as the Meat Cube. Gross.

neapolitan6. Several places, including McDonald's and In-N-Out, will serve you the Neapolitan milkshake. It's just what it sounds like — chocolate, vanilla and strawberry shakes layered in a cup. This gives me a great idea"¦ I wonder if they would make me a mint-chocolate shake when they have the Shamrock Shake in March. Hmmm. Picture from Flickr User Mrjoro.

7. Feeling a little health-conscious at Popeye's? If you are, you really should have gone somewhere else. But there's a little hope for you. Ordering "naked chicken" will get you breading-free poultry. The word is that this is on the menu at some Popeye's, but not all of them, although it is an option at all of them.

8. Like Chipotle, Taco Bell will make you just about anything within reason as long as they have the ingredients for it. Since most of the food at Taco Bell is made out of the same basic items, that means you can probably ask for most discontinued items and get them. One "secret," though, is that they have a not-advertised green chili sauce at most locations, and apparently it's excellent.

9. Some Subways will still make you the popular pizza sub from the '90s. Once the chain decided to make their focus healthy eating, the pizza sub disappeared from the menu in most places (the word is that Canadian and Mexican Subways still offer them on a regular basis). But if you ask, lots of places will still make it for you. Be warned, though. Jared would not approve of the nine slices of pepperoni and copious amounts of cheese slathered in marinara sauce.

10. If you're at Starbucks and in need of just a little caffeine, don't worry — there's a tiny option for you. It's the Short size. It's like a little baby cup of coffee. It also comes in handy when you're scrounging for change and don't have enough for a tall. Not that that has ever happened to me.

Know any cloak-and-dagger menu items? Or have you had luck actually ordering one of these? Let us in on the secret in the comments.

Original image
iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
arrow
technology
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
Original image
iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

Original image
iStock
arrow
technology
Here's How to Change Your Name on Facebook
Original image
iStock

Whether you want to change your legal name, adopt a new nickname, or simply reinvent your online persona, it's helpful to know the process of resetting your name on Facebook. The social media site isn't a fan of fake accounts, and as a result changing your name is a little more complicated than updating your profile picture or relationship status. Luckily, Daily Dot laid out the steps.

Start by going to the blue bar at the top of the page in desktop view and clicking the down arrow to the far right. From here, go to Settings. This should take you to the General Account Settings page. Find your name as it appears on your profile and click the Edit link to the right of it. Now, you can input your preferred first and last name, and if you’d like, your middle name.

The steps are similar in Facebook mobile. To find Settings, tap the More option in the bottom right corner. Go to Account Settings, then General, then hit your name to change it.

Whatever you type should adhere to Facebook's guidelines, which prohibit symbols, numbers, unusual capitalization, and honorifics like Mr., Ms., and Dr. Before landing on a name, make sure you’re ready to commit to it: Facebook won’t let you update it again for 60 days. If you aren’t happy with these restrictions, adding a secondary name or a name pronunciation might better suit your needs. You can do this by going to the Details About You heading under the About page of your profile.

[h/t Daily Dot]

SECTIONS
BIG QUESTIONS
arrow
BIG QUESTIONS
WEATHER WATCH
BE THE CHANGE
JOB SECRETS
QUIZZES
WORLD WAR 1
SMART SHOPPING
STONES, BONES, & WRECKS
#TBT
THE PRESIDENTS
WORDS
RETROBITUARIES