Panera Bread “mac n cheese” is prepared using a packet of frozen ingredients that is heated up in boiling water, according to a now-viral TikTok video by a woman who says she was fired by the restaurant chain after the video spread across social media. Brianna Ramirez said in the video she was “exposing Panera,” but has since said it was meant to be a joke and apologized.
The Arizona teen’s video has been viewed millions of times across TikTok, Twitter and Facebook, after it was posted by Ramirez on her TikTok in early October. The viral content Twitter account @UberFacts re-posted the video on its feed on October 11, leading to more than 10 million views. Ramirez responded to the tweet saying, “lol i lost my job for this video.”
In another video, Ramirez said, “Yes, Panera’s soups are frozen. Our broccoli cheddar is frozen. Our chicken noodle is frozen. Our mac and cheese is frozen. That does not mean that it is not good. I will eat our mac and cheese to this day. I will eat our soup to this day. I love it. I eat it all the time. There is not a reason not to eat it. It is perfectly fine, most stores have frozen food, frozen pastas, frozen meats, other stores have frozen things and you still eat it. … They’re frozen, but then they get warmed up. They still taste good, they taste the same. Don’t stop eating at Panera.”
You can watch the video below:
The Video Shows Ramirez Taking a Packet of ‘Mac n Cheese’ Out of a Freezer & Putting It Into Boiling Water
The 18-second video shows Brianna Ramirez, who was then a Panera Bread employee, walking to a box of frozen packets of macaroni and cheese. She grabs one of the mac and cheese packets and drops it into a vat of boiling water and then pulls out a packet that had already been in the water. The caption over the video reads, “how Panera prepares mac & cheese.”
Ramirez then takes the packet of mac and cheese that has been heated up and cuts it open above a bowl, pouring the steaming contents into it. She then shakes it and puts the bowl on a plate next to a French baguette ready to be served to a waiting customer. The video ends with Ramirez smiling and giving a thumbs up to the camera while next to her co-workers.
The TikTok social media app allows users to put a soundtrack under a video they have created, and Ramirez used the audio from a viral video called, “bruh look at this dude.” The soundtrack provides a man laughing and saying “no, no, no” as Ramirez prepares the mac and cheese.
In another video, Ramirez made a tearful apology. “I like my job, I’m really not trying to get fired,” she says in the second video. “I’m sorry.”
She followed that up with another video saying, “I got fired from my job today and my TikTok is on the news.”
Ramirez Says She Was Told She Had to ‘Part Ways’ With the Company Because the Video Went Viral, but She Says There Was ‘No Wrongful Termination’
After the video went viral on Twitter, Ramirez said she was fired from her job. In another TikTok video, Ramirez said she was told she had to “part ways” with the restaurant chain company because of how popular her video became. But on Twitter she said there were other reasons.
“There was no wrongful termination. Having such long nails and my phone out is a risk to food safety and health regulations. Everything was completely justified. I made a mistake and I’ve learned from it. I will always love Panera and their food,” Ramirez wrote.”
The now-Internet famous Ramirez, a college student in Arizona, also defended Panera, “I dunno what Panera y’all worked at, but the one I did was very clean and there really wasn’t anything unsanitary about it lmao.”
She posted another TikTok video and said, “The video that went viral kind of just went everywhere and now it’s on the news and it got to my corporate and now I don’t have that job. But it’s OK.”
Ramirez, who graduated from high school in May, wrote on Twitter, “I may not be crazy successful right now, but I promise you one day this grind is going to pay off and i’m going to be so proud of myself. Count on it. I’m speaking it into existence. … I go to college full time and I work two jobs. I am exhausted. So if I make time to see you even if it’s only for an hour or so just know i really love you. Please don’t take me for granted.”
Panera Says It Does Freeze Its Mac & Cheese & Soups to ‘Avoid Using Certain Preservatives That Do Not Meet Our Clean Standards’
A spokesperson for Panera Bread told USA Today that the company does, in fact, use frozen mac and cheese and soups, but says that it is to create the best experience for its customers. Jessica Hesselschwerdt told the newspaper that Panera Bread does freeze its mac and cheese and its soups because it wants, “to avoid using certain preservatives that do not meet our clean standards.”
Hesselschwerdt added, “We want to make sure that if you’re in Massachusetts or California or in any one of our 2,100 locations that you get that same awesome experience. This is how we are efficient and how we make it consistent. We want that experience to be great, and that’s the best way to do it.”
She said the company sells more than 3 million orders of mac and cheese each year.
Hesselschwerdt declined to confirm whether Ramirez was fired over the video, according to The Washington Post. She said she could not discuss personnel matters.
In a statement to The Post, Panera said its mac and cheese is a product, “made offsite with our proprietary recipe developed by our chefs.” The company added, “It is shipped frozen to our bakery cafes — this allows us to avoid using preservatives which do not meet our clean standards.”