Once you notice it, you’ll see it everywhere fast food drive-throughs operate

Exit a McDonald’s drive-thru and, within 20-30 feet of the drive through window, right before you exit, you’ll often notice stuck on pieces of gum left on the sidewalk on either side of the drive through exit.

It’s not a unique phenomenon, endemic to one particular area, but a problem found at fast food drive-throughs throughout the United States and, possibly, the world.

Check out this Google Maps view of a McDonald’s in Los Angeles. Notice those black marks on the sidewalk far off the driven path? That’s not oil, that’s gum!

It’s a pattern of human behavior, comedian, and podcaster Adam Corolla recently brought up on one of his shows.

“I’m a pattern seeker,” said Corolla.

“I like to seek patterns. I noticed at the McDonald’s drive-through, from the drive-through window to the street was about 25-30 feet. At the sidewalk where the driveway went down to let everyone back on to the main street, after the drive through, on one side of that driveway was tons of dried up gum.”

“I realized it’s on one side and not on the other side. Everyone gets their drive-through order chewing gum. It takes them 25-feet to get the fries out of the bag because someone’s behind them, and they’re pulling ahead.”

“They stop because they realize, oh, I have gum in my mouth. They let a few cars pass. At that point, that’s where the gum exits their mouth onto the sidewalk. They go, I no longer need this gum, and they spit it out the window, and then they grab a handful of fries.”

As you might’ve already guessed, this is not a unique pattern of behavior found at just McDonald’s, it happens at any fast food establishment with a drive thru.

It’s such a problem that it’s often a job McDonald’s management bids out to local pressure washing businesses.

Check out these pressure washing pros specifically dealing with gum removal.

The latter post from Instagram is from a 31-year-old pressure washer entrepreneur in Canada who rakes in six figures just off of corporate bids explicitly asking for gum removal.

One could argue throwing gum out the window is keeping these pressure washers employed, but it’s no excuse to be a Mr. Lazy Bones, littering instead of throwing out your gum like a decent human being.

The fact is, people are using money for cleaning that could be more efficiently used elsewhere. For a McDonald’s business owner, that might mean extra Christmas bonus money for employees or better outdoor lighting that makes nighttime customers feel a little safer. (insert your laughter here at my naïveté that management wouldn’t just pocket the money.)

For a busy pressure washer business owner, their resources and time can be spent on better paying jobs rather than being flooded with monthly calls to their local fast food restaurant.

Littering effects everyone in one way or another, and, is often exacerbated by the presence of litter to begin with.

The next time you’re tempted to spit your gum out the window after grabbing your food, do better, grab a tissue, and spit it in there, instead.

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