Fast Food Review: French Fries from McDonald’s
According to Wendy’s, they have indeed, with the chain’s new Natural Cut Fries with Sea Salt apparently beating out McDonald’s iconic french fries in an eight city blind taste test. Yet when it comes to loyal fast food eaters, the jury is still out, especially on the internet. Need more proof? Few subjects have been more decisive and commented on than our review of Wendy’s new fries, with many commenters claiming that the new fries are “horrible” and nowhere in the same ballpark as McDonald’s. I was high on Wendy’s fries when they first came out, but what of McDonald’s fries? Just in case you needed a reminder, I left a little room for ambiguity at the end of my last review:
We’re dealing with an extremely well executed menu item here in which simplicity rules, and which the potato – both from a textural and flavor standpoint – shines. Strictly speaking, I find these to be among the best fast food fries available, and considering the national range of Wendy’s, a strong contender to McDonald’s infamous fries
With Wendy’s kicking up their ad campaign for the fries once again, I decided enough was enough. It was time to put my taste buds to work and head back to McDonald’s to see if my longtime favorite fry was still my longtime favorite fry.
I preface this review with saying that I do not eat fries on a regular basis, and when I do, it is usually just fries, with ketchup. I fancy myself as a fry fanatic, and for this, I really try to focus on the fries – both in flavor, but also in texture. Whipping through fries as a side on any old combo meal is perfectly ok, but to really begin to appreciate the differences and subtleties of different fast food fries, I think one should be “one” with the fry. Having become “one” with McDonald’s fries once again, I am here to dispute Wendy’s claim as the fry champion, and boldly assert that when it comes to fried potato goodness, the Golden Arches reign supreme.
Why are McDonald’s fries the best on the market? Three things, to be exact: crispness, salt level, and consistency. Yes, they carry great potato flavor locked inside their airy interiors, but when we’re all perfectly honest with ourselves, the warm snap of a never-limp McDonald’s fry is what gets us, and it’s the overwhelming consistency of the fry batches from McDonald’s to McDonald’s which makes for such a uniform experience.
A value (small) order of McDonald’s fries is just $1.00. The standard price is the first major win for McDonald’s, which, even in its franchised locations (like the one I visited) has better consistency in pricing than Wendy’s. I ordered my fries on Easter Sunday during mid afternoon – the perfect ‘slow’ time for someone wanting to catch an order of fries having been left under the heat lamp for too long. Despite this, my fries were everything they were supposed to be.
Let’s start with consistency. I had exactly ONE fry in the order that was hard and dry (which I actually found curiously intriguing) and two which I considered limp. None came across as “gummy” (a huge problem for Carl’s Jr.) and none lacked interior starch altogether. This is remarkable, as is the fact that I was able to consume the entire small order without the fries losing their heat or crispness. Now, onto saltiness. Say all you want about the flavor of sea salt, but a generous helping of table salt, like the one I got on my fries, adds a finger licking element that really seems to bolster the flavor of the fry, and makes the ketchup coating pop with even more sweetness when combined with the smooth, yet not overly oily exterior of the fry. I’ll be honest – I like my fries salty, and McDonald’s does not seem to add as much salt to fries as they used to, although the batch I got was very salty (perhaps too much for some). As for that exterior texture – it’s a sight to behold and bite down on. Each fry is coated with tiny bubbles that render the crispy texture. Only one fry was burnt, and even the few soft fries I had were by no means inedible.
In terms of pure, unadulterated potato flavor, Wendy’s fries get a slight edge. But if I wanted a pure, unadulterated potato, I’m not in the market for buying french fries. While I admire the skin-on and restrained salt application on Wendy’s fries, I still find the consistency and crispness of the McDonald’s fries, together with their salty, perfectly golden exterior, to be beyond any other fast food french fry I’ve ever had. Wendy’s may claim a “national” taste test has given their fries the crown, but upon further review, I don’t find them quite as good as McDonald’s.
Pros: Always $1 for a value order. Remarkable consistency in texture. Holds warmth and crispness for desired eating time-frame. Airy and fluffy interior almost never gummy. Rarely saturated in oil. Goes great with ketchup (duh!). Not at all bad for you with just 1.5 grams of saturated fat per value sized order.
Cons: Despite consistency, salt levels can vary from location and time. My batch was exceptionally salty. Not *as* good as they used to be (so I'm told) when cooked in beef tallow.
Grubbing on-the-go: 8.00/10
Price: 1.00 for small order
Overall GrubGrade: 9.50/10
More Info: McDonalds.com
McDonald's French Fries (small order)
Total Fat: 11 g
Saturated Fat: 1.5 g
Trans Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 160 mg
Total Carbs: 29 g
Dietary Fiber: 3 g
Sugars: 0 g
Protein: 3 g