Woman talking(l+r), Panera Bread(c)

Ken Wolter/Shutterstock @mkmsharp/Tiktok (Licensed)

‘DO NOT TELL THEM’: Panera customer shares hack to always get a free drink

'As a panera employee we REALLY don't care.'


Jack Alban


Posted on Mar 20, 2024   Updated on Mar 20, 2024, 9:47 am CDT

One Panera customer learned how to use confidence to their advantage, and they shared their simple hack to get a free drink everytime in a viral TikTok video.

According to TikToker @mkmsharp, a self-proclaimed “redbull luvr” and Panera free drink finesser, the core of her technique for free drinks from the hospital-cafeteria-tasting food chain is confidence.

After several of her free Unlimited Sip Club memberships expired, she began another method. @mkmsharp says she walks into a Panera location, asks for a large cup, and simply pours her own beverages.

She has even devised a rejoinder for employees who ask her to pay, so that she can save some face and make it look like they were in the wrong for assuming she didn’t want to pay.

@mkmsharp posted about her penchant for nabbing drinks without paying at Panera to how she approaches the con, however, some other TikTokers believe it has more to do with an overlying indifference Panera employees have towards their jobs, rather than her slickness.

“I have not paid for a drink at Panera for the last like two years,” she says in the video, noting that she created multiple accounts to reap the subscription free-trial benefits.

When Panera removed the 3-month free trial Sip Club option, @mkmsharp shifted her method.

“Just like everybody else, I would walk up and I’d grab a cup and I’d go get whatever the f*ck I wanted,” she says, before noting that since the Panera Charged Lemonade controversy began, the company started putting their cups behind the coutner. “And now they took that option away. Now, I just walk up very confidently say, ‘Hi, can I just have like the large cup and…’ They always give it to me.”

@mkmsharp says she’s also found a way to play it cool so Panera workers don’t suspect that she’s trying to scam them. “If it ever fails and they’re like, ‘Yeah, you actually have to pay for it.’ I’m just gonna be like, ‘Yeah, that’s what I was trying to do like can I… I just want a large drink.'”

“And then make them feel stupid but really I was the one who was trying to scam,” she concludes. “I hope that doesn’t happen but I did get this one for free today.”

One commenter who said that they work at Panera revealed some information that may help other folks feel confident in waltzing into their own local Panera eatery and trying out @mkmsharp’s technique. According to them, it may have to do more with the lack of caring from the workers than customers attempting to exude faux-confidence: “As a panera employee we REALLY don’t care.”

However, another person thinks that @mkmsharp should keep her tips and tricks to herself. “DO NOT TELL THEM THEY WILL FIX IT,” they wrote.

Another person doesn’t seem to think that will be the case. They shared their own experiences in finessing free beverages away from Panera, which it doesn’t seem like they have much difficulty doing. “I just take a cup i go to panera all the time n never they said anything to me,” they said.

“Just save that cup and refill it daily, we use to have ppl just walk in with huge yeti’s and fill up and go. No questions asked,” another commenter suggested.

Other food industry employees seemed to embrace the same attitude towards policing customers finagling free fountain drinks for themselves. “When I worked at noodles and company we had the coke freestyle machine. Ppl would come in and ask for a cup for water. They’d get pop every single time and we didn’t care at all,” one commenter said.

It’s not difficult to understand where workers or even management is coming from—if someone is visiting your establishment and buying food, comping a beverage, which traditionally has a massive mark-up of 1125% according to pricing analysts, it seems like a fair trade off.


♬ original sound – redbull luvr

Similarly, many Panera employees have previously gone on record stating that it’s “hard to police” the Sip Club memberships, and as a result, folks can steal drinks left and right.

While putting “soda in the water cup” is a time-honored con pulled by fast-food denizens—the harmless-seeming offense has been called out previously by restaurant staff members. In 2016, ABC Chicago reported that a man was arrested for putting soda in his water cup, and it happened again two years later at an Arby’s. A Redditor on the site’s r/Chipotle sub also penned a post about a customer at one of the popular Mexican-style chain’s locations being called out for filling their water up with soda.

The Daily Dot has reached out to Panera via email and @mkmsharp via TikTok comment for further information.

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*First Published: Mar 20, 2024, 3:00 pm CDT