Food by VICE

Panera Worker Allegedly Fired Over Mac & Cheese-Related TikTok

"You finna get fired," someone commented on the worker's video of how the mac 'n' cheese is prepared.

by Jelisa Castrodale
Oct 15 2019, 10:33pm

Photo: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

According to Know Your Meme, "Bruh, Look at this Dude" has made sporadic appearances on the internet since 2015, soundtracking videos that roasted random strangers, YouTube personalities, and President Donald Trump. But when it featured in a TikTok filmed in an unnamed Panera Bread, it also became the eventual soundtrack of somebody getting themselves fired.

A couple of days ago, a user named @Briannaraelenee posted a video called "Exposing Panera," which showed how the chain's macaroni and cheese is prepared. In the clip, a frozen baggie of pre-made mac is taken out of a cardboard box, slipped into a tub of hot water, and then emptied out into a bowl and served with a big smile. "You finna get fired," someone commented.

After some 950,000 likes on TikTok, and a retweet from @UberFacts that was viewed more than 11 million times, that's exactly what happened. The now-former Panera worker, who gives her name as Brianna Ramirez on her social media channels, tweeted that she was fired after her TikTok was picked up by the local news.

Ramirez might have known what was going to happen—or at least what could happen after her TikTok went bonkers viral. In a less widely shared followup video, she defended Panera, and its frozen soups and sides. "Yes, Panera's soups are frozen, our broccoli cheddar's frozen, our chicken noodle's frozen, our mac and cheese is frozen. That does not mean they're not good," she said.

"There's not a reason not to eat it [...] Other stores have frozen things and you'll still eat it. You'll eat pizza rolls. Those are frozen. Bagel bites, frozen. They still taste good, they taste the same. Don't stop eating at Panera."

But she couldn't shove the frozen genie back into the frozen bottle, and on both TikTok and on Twitter, she confirmed that she was terminated. "I was told we had to 'part ways,'" she said onscreen. "So the video, that went viral and now it's on the news, and now it got to my corporate, and now I don't have that job. But it's OK."

On Twitter, she wrote that she "made a mistake" but had "learned from it."

A Panera spokesperson told USA Today that yes, the chain freezes its mac and cheese "to avoid using certain preservatives that do not meet our clean standards" and to give each customer the same "awesome experience," regardless of which Panera they're eating in. The spokesperson did not confirm whether Ramirez had been fired because of the videos, saying only that the chain "does not discuss personnel matters."

VICE has also reached out to Panera Bread for comment. And regardless of her employment status, Ramirez is merely a "Food As It Should Be" whistleblower. We only wish she'd been there long enough to spill the tea on those Grain Bowls, too.

Fast Food
mac n cheese
chain restaurants