There’s more to McDonald’s French fries than just crispy, greasy, salty goodness. Here’s the scoop on one of the world’s most popular fast food French fries.
8. They’re Made with a Lot of Ingredients
Nineteen, to be exact. At least that’s what The Washington Post said in an article they published a few years ago. While McDonald’s doesn’t give a specified number, the company does have quite a lengthy, and somewhat shocking, list of ingredients on its website.
According to the restaurant, they use a variety of potatoes, including Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet, Umatilla Russet, and Shepody. They also use several vegetable oils–canola, corn, soybean, and hydrogenated soybean oil. Dextrose is added to give the fries their “signature golden look,” and sodium acid pyrophosphate is added to keep the potatoes from turning gray after freezing and before they are cooked.
And, if you’re sensitive to gluten or lactose, you may want to avoid these fries as they contain both wheat and milk.
Of course there’s salt (the best part in some people’s opinions), and last but certainly not least, a special flavoring (we’ll get to that next) that makes them taste oh so good.
7. They’re Not Vegan-Friendly
So, yeah, about that special flavoring. It’s natural BEEF flavor! According to the company, the beef flavoring is what gives their World Famous Fries® that one-of-a-kind, easily recognizable taste. Not exactly the vegan-friendly side dish potatoes are known for being. As a result, several vegetarians, along with some Hindus who don’t eat meat for religious reasons, sued the restaurant back in 2001 for not readily disclosing the fact that their French fries were flavored with beef. McDonald’s agreed to issue an apology and pay $10 million to the plaintiffs. At the time, PETA said it was hopeful that the lawsuit would help persuade the restaurant to stop using it. Unfortunately, it didn’t.
6. They’re Partially Pre-Cooked
According to the company’s website, their suppliers first peel, cut, and blanch the potatoes. Then they dry them, partially fry them, and quickly freeze them for the restaurants. The suppliers are also the ones who add the natural beef flavor, which, by the way, contains hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk. Citric acid is added to preserve the freshness of the oil, and dimethylpolysiloxane is added to reduce foaming and oil splattering.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term blanching, it basically means that the potatoes are scalded in boiling water or steam for a short time. This is an absolute must for vegetables that are going to be frozen. According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, blanching vegetables helps stop enzyme actions that can cause loss of flavor, texture, and color (Blanching actually brightens the color). Blanching also helps slow the loss of vitamins and gets rid of dirt and organisms. Lastly, it softens vegetables, making them easier to pack.
5. Their Smell is Hard to Get Rid Of
Everyone loves the smell of McDonald’s fries, right? But, when you work there or eat there daily, or live with someone who works there, the scent can attach itself to your clothing and car–and that can become quite bothersome. So, just how do you get rid of this smell? McDonald’s employees on Reddit offer a wide range of solutions, including showering, wearing an apron at work, washing the uniform separately, adding a splash of bleach to the laundry, washing the uniform with coke first and rewashing it with detergent, or just letting the uniform air out.
A former McDonald’s employee told Business Insider that adding lemon juice to the laundry will help get rid of the odor.
4. It Takes a Lot to Prepare Them Without Salt
In fact, it can be a pain in the neck–or some other part of your anatomy we can’t mention here, lol! Quora user Chuck Chan explained the painstaking process of preparing salt-free French fries at McDonald’s:
“The fry person will need to wipe down the station, the fry scoop, and clear the area for the new batch to keep salt from contaminating the new batch. The fry person might not even fill up your container as full due to this fuss. And if any fries fall out of the bag or container, they won’t put more in because the rest of the fries may have already been salted.”
3. They’re Healthier in the UK
French fries at McDonald’s locations in the UK are made using only three (four if you count the salt) ingredients: potatoes, vegetable oil (sunflower and rapeseed), and dextrose. And, they’re prepared using a non-hydrogenated vegetable oil. In other words, there’s no trans fat in them.
McDonald’s offers the following explanation for the difference in ingredients on its website:
“Every country has a way of doing things a little differently, so there are a few reasons that can influence why our ingredients vary here at home. These can include customer preferences, local regulations and guidelines, and supply chain availability.”
They also warn that the fries may, at times, be cooked in the same oil as the Spicy Veggie Patty, which can add additional ingredients as well as calories.
Whatever the case, McDonald’s reassures its customers that any differences in ingredients do not compromise taste or safety.
2. You Can Get Them Fresh… If You Just Ask
According to McDonald’s employee and Reddit user AppleDashPoni, if you ask for fresh fries, they’re very likely to give them to you. “I know that our store makes every ‘fresh’ order fresh immediately, no matter how busy we are,” the employee said on Reddit.
But, you may not even have to ask anyway. According to the company’s website, they hold cooked fries in their warming cabinets for a maximum of seven minutes. They discard of them after that. “Since quality is at the heart of everything we do at McDonald’s, we don’t serve any fries that have been held longer than seven minutes,” the website said.
1. You Can Get Them for Free… For a Limited Time
Earlier this year, McDonald’s announced that it would give away free medium sized fries every Friday until the end of the year. The promotion began on July 13 in honor of National French Fry Day and will run through December 30.
But, you can’t just walk in and ask for free French fries. You have to spend at least $1.00, and you have to order through the restaurant’s mobile app. If you don’t already have it installed, you’ll have to download the app and register a payment card. Oh, and the freebie is limited to one order per day.
We hope we didn’t divulge too much information, because when it comes to unhealthy food, the less you know the better… for your stomach and taste buds, that is. Happy eating!