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Secret menus exposed: UCF-area menus open to students’ creativity

Image from Hackthemenu.com

Image from Hackthemenu.com

Without glancing at the menu, you order: four beef patties, four slices of cheese, bacon and special sauce loaded between two sesame-seed buns.

When quick service restaurants such as Burger King promise you can “have it your way,” it’s no surprise that some students may opt to customize their order to create something like the BK Quad Stacker described above. From coffee to pizza to burgers and more, local restaurants and chains may provide what have been popularly described as secret menu items.

On April 5, Business Insider reported its top five secret menu suggestions for McDonald’s. These tips were found through the website hackthemenu.com, which states its purpose to provide, “details, recipes and prices about the most interesting and tasty secret menu items available at all of your favorite fast food restaurants.”

UCF students don't have to go far for custom Starbucks drinks — they're available in Knights Plaza in Barnes & Noble.

UCF students don’t have to go far for custom Starbucks drinks — they’re available in Knights Plaza in Barnes & Noble.

At UCF, several on-campus and nearby restaurants are listed with secret menu hacks, including Burger King and McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, Starbucks and Panera Bread.

Marilyn Solorzano, a nursing sophomore at UCF, works for Starbucks in the Barnes & Noble located in Tower 3 of Knights Plaza. At this location, Solorzano said that she had frequent requests in the previous two semesters for non-menu items. She said that while baristas at Starbucks must learn how to make both the hot and iced version of many standard menu items, she enjoys making new creations for customers.

“It’s pretty cool. Sometimes I don’t know how to make something and they’ll look it up on Google, and I’ll make it for them if we’re able to,” she said. “As long as it’s not a Frappuccino, we’re good.”

Solorzano said that because her Starbucks is located in a Barnes & Noble, she is unable to customize certain drinks, including Frappucinos. So if you’re craving a cotton candy Frappuccino — a vanilla bean Frappuccino with extra pumps of raspberry syrup — head to an off-campus location.

Solorzano said that it does take longer to make an unusual request, but she appreciates the creativity.

“It makes it cooler cause you learn new things [as a barista],” she said.

Not everyone agrees that putting a new spin on an old menu benefits the employees.

“Alterations and substitutions like ‘Can I get extra “x,” or can I get it without “y”’ can be one thing, but an entirely different issue arises when asking the worker to make off-the-cuff items that they simply cannot make,” said Charlie Korba, a current Valencia College student transferring to UCF to study premed. “All it seems to do is take up more time for the workers, which isn’t good, especially for a busy location like the campus.”

Korba suggests that students follow his example by ordering the components for his or her specialty order separately to assemble on their own. At McDonald’s, for example, Korba said that he would create what is known colloquially as a “McGangbang” by combining two McDoubles with a McChicken stacked between them.

Katelyn Smith, a psychology senior at UCF about to begin a master’s program in the field, previously worked at McDonald’s on Alafaya Trail. She corroborated Korba’s suggestion and said that asking for unusual orders slows down the staff and may cause a manager to get involved.

Whatever you order, just make sure you clearly tell the staff what you’re asking for, and you’re on your way to enjoying a creative new twist on familiar franchise dishes. And if you need some suggestions to get you started, Business Insider recommends a Pie McFlurry. Blend one McDonald’s pie with the McFlurry of your choice for a unique dessert that’s your little secret.

UCF’s SGA presidential candidates share plans for campus life

The UCF campus may see a pedestrian walkway across Alafaya Trail or more LGBTQ-community inclusion, depending on the outcome of this year’s Student Government Association elections. On March 11, the SGA presidential and vice presidential candidates participated in an involvement debate in the Key West Ballroom where they discussed their goals and experiences regarding campus life. An official presidential debate between candidates Weston Bayes and Jessica Gottsleben will be held March 18, and voting opens for students March 24.

Pre-debate prep: While the candidates prepare, supervisor of elections Kathryn Andriotis speaks with moderator and fellow election commissioner Leah Chakoff  (on stage) before beginning the involvement debate on March 11.

Pre-debate prep: While the candidates prepare, supervisor of elections Kathryn Andriotis speaks with moderator and fellow election commissioner Leah Chakoff (on stage) before beginning the involvement debate on March 11.

Bayes partnered with Sydney Altfield for a campaign based on the slogan “stand uknighted.” Bayes serves as Senate President Pro Tempore, Activity & Service Fee vice chair and previously served as the homecoming comedy knight director. Altfield is the president of Alpha Phi Epsilon, a member of the library advisory board and previously served as the homecoming concert director.

“All of the different places that I’ve put my foot through the door have definitely shaped my leadership skills,” Altfield said.

Gottsleben and running mate Lucdwin Luck could be “revolutionizing knighthood” if elected. Gottsleben is the student director of Knightcast, sits on the library advisory board and served as vice president of Honors Congress. Luck is a brother of the Theta Chi fraternity, works at Transfer & Transition Services, is the secretary for Student Veterans of America and is himself a U.S. Marine Corp veteran. Gottsleben said that her ticket represents all Knights, as she is non-Greek, and Luck is a non-traditional, 28-year-old transfer student.

“I’m a servant leader, so I do not serve for myself,” said Gottsleben. “If the student body wants something, that’s what we want to deliver.”

Both campaigns agreed on the importance of delivering a safe environment to students.

“We look at safety, but we don’t realize that there’s things that we can’t see. Yes, we can try to handle safety that is directly on campus, but what about off-campus housing communities?” said Gottsleben.

Bayes countered by explaining his ticket’s plan for off-campus safety. He and Altfield proposed a walking bridge over Alafaya Trail that would allow pedestrians to safely cross the street.

“You’re crossing almost six lanes of traffic trying to get to campus from off-campus housing, and that’s so dangerous, and every Knight should feel safe when they try and come to campus,” said Bayes. “It shouldn’t be a hassle; it shouldn’t be a danger; it shouldn’t be a risk if you try to come to your own campus.”

Election season has arrived, and so have the campaign promotions. Weston Bayes and Sydney Altfield are running against Jessica Gottsleben and Lucdwin Luck for SGA president, and voting begins March 24.

Election season has arrived, and so have the campaign promotions. Weston Bayes and Sydney Altfield are running against Jessica Gottsleben and Lucdwin Luck for SGA president, and voting begins March 24.

            Though both candidates also stressed the importance of inclusion, Gottsleben and Luck emphasized this goal particularly toward the LGBTQ community. When introducing themselves, Gottsleben and Luck stated their gender pronoun preferences as “she” and “her,” and “he” and “him,” respectively.

“The LGBTQ+ community of UCF is my family, and I want to make sure that non-gender-binary students for once have a voice and that their trans issues are for once respected on campus,” she said.

Gottsleben and Luck seek to make the Safe Zone program as inclusive as possible, as she said the former ally program was misrepresenting the meaning of being an ally by giving the perspective that cisgendered, heterosexual people could not respond accordingly with the needs of the community.

These goals are just some of many platform points that the candidates will promote throughout the campaign.

SGA President Melissa Westbrook attended the event and advised that, while they are campaigning, candidates should “do it with passion or not at all.” The outgoing president also endorsed Bayes and Altfield as her successors.

“I’m fully standing behind them and giving them my 100-percent support,” said Westbrook.