The Case of the Curious Clock

Mysterious McD clock

So I was at the McDonald’s at Hastings and Cassiar (technically, that’s still Vancouver, not Burnaby, you waydowntowners), and I saw this clock on the wall beside the order counter.

It’s a branded McDonald’s clock, not just some generic Office Depot unit. But why does it have extra sets of numbers?

The most obvious set are the black numbers with wedges (arrows? slopes?) on the outside. Each one is two hours behind its proper place on the main clock face, so the hour hand points at each of those numbers 2 hours early.

The next set are the small red numbers on the inside of the clock face, each one on the third minute mark ahead of that number’s proper place. For those playing along, that means the hour hand would point them at 36 minutes after the hour.

Finally, there’s a corresponding set of red numbers and wedges on the outer rim, again on the third minute mark, and in harmony with the two-hours-early black numbers and wedges.

The two-hours fast numbers would give you a sorta-analogue to 24-hour time (add ten to the outer number, and you get 24-hour time for the proper clock number, except for 11/1 and 12/2), but not quite.

I assume these are shift-timing cues, but can someone break the McDonald’s code for me?

4 Comments so far

  1. Laurie (unregistered) on March 23rd, 2007 @ 9:23 pm

    Those clocks were for timing the food back when McDonald’s used to keep food in the “bins” that the counter and drive through people would take from. The person “running the bin” would put the food into the bin, and slide a metal divider with a black or red number on it. The clock told that person when the food expired, based on it’s “bin number”.

  2. Ryan Cousineau (unregistered) on March 23rd, 2007 @ 11:31 pm


    So was the food considered good for 10 minutes or two hours?

  3. Laurie (unregistered) on March 24th, 2007 @ 2:25 pm

    If I remember right, the numbers on the outside are for when the food goes into the bin, and the numbers on the inside tell you when to discard it. So, closer to 15 minutes, I think?

  4. Jeffery Simpson (unregistered) on March 27th, 2007 @ 9:30 am

    Yeah, I think it was 15 minutes tops. I can’t remember, but the fact is McDonald’s is much cleaner than it gets credit for.

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