When eating McDonald’s fries, do not dilly-dally
February 5, 2019 3:00 AM   Subscribe

First, speed is key here. Second, if you have the ability to wait for a fresh batch, do. Third, preserve heat at all costs. You have this many minutes to consume McDonald's French fries before they're inedible.
posted by Vesihiisi (101 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Disappointed they didn't get into the weeds on the, uh, mouthfeel.
posted by um at 3:10 AM on February 5 [6 favorites]


People who insist on trying to get fresh stuff at fast food places annoy me a little. Like, if we were all doing that the whole operation would grind to a screeching halt. I feel like if you're getting fast food, you get what you get. It is what it is, there are other restaurants out there if you want something better.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:14 AM on February 5 [28 favorites]


Disappointed they didn't get into the weeds on the, uh, mouthfeel.

The Burger Lab: How to Make Perfect Thin and Crisp French Fries

"The Anatomy of a Perfect Fry"
posted by mikelieman at 3:37 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


I've seen my kids eat cold McDonald’s fries right out of the fridge.
posted by elgilito at 4:01 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


For McDonald's, at least, I go a little bit further to one close to the airport near me. With flights coming in at all hours the food usually doesn't sit long.

I actually don't like the burgers at most of the more conventional restaurants, and would usually prefer a nice veggie burger I make myself at home. That's not true of most dishes, though... for whatever reason I like burgers from a couple of fast food chains but otherwise would go to a more high-brow place. Somewhere with paper placemats I can do origami with while I'm waiting for the food.

(But seriously, most people seem to like much thicker burgers with fancier dressings, so even at white tablecloth establishments I find my tastes unsatisfied. It's a burden, but I struggle on through life as best I can.)
posted by XMLicious at 4:25 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


I've seen my kids eat cold McDonald’s fries right out of the fridge.

I like cold french fries right out of the fridge, maybe even more than "fresh" ones. Call me a monster if you like.
posted by gusottertrout at 4:28 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


(But seriously, most people seem to like much thicker burgers with fancier dressings, so even at white tablecloth establishments I find my tastes unsatisfied. It's a burden, but I struggle on through life as best I can.)

I've found Five Guys, a "little" ( single patty ) bacon cheeseburger, with all the regular toppings, plus extra pickles, plus extra bacon does the trick. Their buns don't hold up to their normal "2 patty" burgers.

And you get peanuts.
posted by mikelieman at 4:30 AM on February 5 [7 favorites]


People who insist on trying to get fresh stuff at fast food places annoy me a little... It is what it is, there are other restaurants out there if you want something better.

For some of us, going to McDonald's or other fast food places is the only dining-out treat we can afford ourselves, and even then only once or twice a month, so excuse the hell out of us if we try to make it worthwhile.
posted by KHAAAN! at 4:30 AM on February 5 [41 favorites]


I went into a Harvey's near UW on Saturday afternoon when there was no line and one person reading a newspaper in the dining room and ordered fries and a milkshake.

I had to wait a couple minutes for the fries because they needed to brown/finish them for me. They were really good. Not shoestring, not too chunky, not covered in glop, light brown.

Four hours later when I rescued the last few cold scouts from the bottom of the bag, they still had a lot of structural integrity, and tasted surprisingly good. Kind of a magical moment, really.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:46 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


I sort of have an affinity for warm french fries, particularly of the fast food variety. For some reason my body craves just that once in a blue moon.
posted by Young Kullervo at 5:05 AM on February 5


Also I rarely eat McDonald's but there is nothing better than some airport McDonald's.
posted by Young Kullervo at 5:06 AM on February 5 [6 favorites]


And for some of us, McDonald’s is that infrequent meal out, but then we wait in line behind someone who wants a fresh batch of fries all to themselves. Or in front of them, thinking, “So, the fries I’ll get aren’t good enough for this person?”

This isn’t a class issue, it’s a working within the system as designed issue.
posted by thoroughburro at 5:07 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


Ultimately, how do you justify the fresh batch of fries be made in front of your order. They aren’t going to throw them away, because it’s not a cook-to-order restaurant, as you’d prefer. So, you’re accepting better fries for you and consigning others to fries you’d rather not eat.

Well, now I’m not sure it isn’t a class issue. I sure wouldn’t be assuming someone doing this was unused to privilege.
posted by thoroughburro at 5:10 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


Ultimately, how do you justify the fresh batch of fries be made in front of your order. They aren’t going to throw them away, because it’s not a cook-to-order restaurant, as you’d prefer. So, you’re accepting better fries for you and consigning others to fries you’d rather not eat.

French fries are a process. Fries happen all the time. You just hit reset on the cycle early.

Empty the frozen fries into the basket ( may be done in bulk by the back sink guy, and stored in a walk in freezer... ) drop them and hit the timer. When it beeps, pull it out, shake off the grease, dump it into the French Fry Holding Station, salt, fill the "special request" customer's fries, and then continue on with your life... In another 10 minutes you'll need another basket anyway...
posted by mikelieman at 5:19 AM on February 5 [8 favorites]


This is why fat, squishy British chips are great. They're meant to be eaten after being wrapped up for a while.
posted by dowcrag at 5:25 AM on February 5 [6 favorites]


The people doing this are not savvy food hackers. We would all like fresher fries. It’s not possible at McDonald’s scale and prices. Taking advantage of American service culture to secure a better product for yourself, but only yourself, is a very clear tragedy of the commons.

If everyone did it, they would either change the service to be less accommodating, stop selling fries, or raise the prices.

I guess it’s good for people that do this that most of us don’t optimize life for just themselves. Those who accept the reality of the system subsidize their personal behavior.
posted by thoroughburro at 5:27 AM on February 5 [6 favorites]


They aren’t going to throw them away, because it’s not a cook-to-order restaurant, as you’d prefer.

Incorrect.

McDonalds is very clear on their own website that their policy is to throw out fries after 7 minutes. Their whole business model is built around being able to do a fair bit of prediction of when to make more of something so that they serve customers fast, knowing that sometimes they'll have excess they have to throw out. Yes, they'd prefer to minimize that. No, that doesn't mean you should be obligated to eat fries that have sat too long (and if you're getting fries that have sat so long that they taste bad, that's an indication that this particular franchise location is cutting corners or not operating well).
posted by tocts at 5:28 AM on February 5 [13 favorites]


overthinking a basket of fries tho
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:29 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


So, (this is not a comment on the politics surrounding the event, only on the food)...

That was one of the things that bugged me the most about the US President's recent hosting of the NCAA champions at the White House. To have had all of those fast food burgers/fries/etc delivered, then staged for photos, then a speech, then available for eating...

... even if you're the biggest fast-food-burger fan out there, they had to have been basically cold, soggy messes after all that time...
posted by Seeba at 5:35 AM on February 5 [36 favorites]


I apologize for coming on so strongly. I stand behind my arguments, but it’s been a bad morning (month, year, life) and nobody needed to hear them that way.

I’m really sorry for the shot of morning judgement.
posted by thoroughburro at 5:44 AM on February 5 [8 favorites]


Back in the day, my life-hackin'-before-life-hackin'-was-cool Uncle Mike worked at a newspaper office near a McDonald's. On lunch breaks, he used to roll up in the drive-through and place an order that included unsalted fries (on the grounds that he had a medical condition prohibiting the intake of sodium). I don't know about now, but back then McDonald's used to salt the fries as soon as they were done cooking...So my Uncle Mike's request pretty damn well guaranteed that they would have to make a fresh batch of pristine, saltless fries for him every time. Once he got back to work, he would then salt them heavily and get down to business.
posted by Bob Regular at 5:47 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


There are many fresher, better, restaurants in the same price bracket as McDonald's if you want a treat on the cheap. They don't even compete on price, just speed and a precision-engineered blast of fat and salt. I'm not judging you if you like to eat there sometimes, I get food there occasionally myself, but I'm really not buying the argument that telling people to use McDonald's as designed is taking away the only good thing in their lives.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:47 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


'Use McDonald's as designed' is the new 'Have it Your Way'.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:53 AM on February 5 [16 favorites]


So my Uncle Mike's request pretty damn well guaranteed that they would have to make a fresh batch of pristine, saltless fries for him every time. Once he got back to work, he would then salt them heavily and get down to business.

As a native member of Mikes Int'l, Inc. and a former McDonald's cook, this is the worst. If you're serious about delivering "no salt" fries, you need to -- before taking them out of the fryer -- fill bags with whatever fries were in the fry station and CLEAN THE FUCKING STATION, since the salt is all over it, and if you don't, the fries will be contaminated with salt...

SO, they either half-ass it, and there's Very Little Salt, or they have a whole lot of extra work to do. If you really want hot fries, ask for them well-done.
posted by mikelieman at 5:54 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


So, in terms of taste, the life of McDonald's Fries are fleeting.

In terms of decomposition, however, McDonald's Fries are forever.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 5:56 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


I don't like the kind of gourmet burgers that are so fat that they're practically a meatball, y'know, the gastro pub burger.

I quite like the "Signature" burger from McDonalds, it's a bit overdressed but competent enough, though I'll still be thinking of that Five Guys I visited in Guildford.
posted by Eleven at 5:59 AM on February 5


Taking advantage of American service culture to secure a better product for yourself, but only yourself, is a very clear tragedy of the commons.

McDonald's is not a commons; it's a for-profit company that uses underpaid labor to fry potatoes to make money. It is not a commons. How fucking beaten down by capitalism do you have to get before you decide asking for the good version of their profitable product is somehow immoral?
posted by Greg Nog at 6:01 AM on February 5 [34 favorites]


If you want the good version just go to Burger king. Their fries (at least where I live) are crispy on the outside! can you imagine? crispy!
posted by some loser at 6:04 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


"How fucking beaten down by capitalism do you have to get before you decide asking for the good version of their profitable product is somehow immoral?"

Let's have dinner together. (It's Kraft Mac & Cheese with an extra slice of American for satiation. 5 days out of 7.) You're not wrong at all, and I can tell you all about it.
posted by thoroughburro at 6:21 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


Burger King serves cheater fries... they're crispy on the outside because they're coated in thin batter.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 6:21 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


I cannot choke down that many fries within five minutes, y'all. Even the small batch.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:25 AM on February 5


I used to live in a country where McDonalds offered 24 hr delivery, and also there wasn’t really a formal address system and I lived in a 20-something million person city but down a series of winding alleys and behind an anonymous gate hidden in what looked like somebody else’s courtyard. I can confirm that cold McDonalds fries are literally inedible, and the rest of their cold food is pretty close to inedible even if you’re drunk and hungry at 4:30 in the morning.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 6:28 AM on February 5


I like cold french fries right out of the fridge, maybe even more than "fresh" ones. Call me a monster if you like.

As a kid I preferred frozen fries right out of the freezer. It was a nice cold starchy treat.
posted by Ashwagandha at 6:29 AM on February 5


I like cold french fries right out of the fridge, maybe even more than "fresh" ones. Call me a monster if you like.

As a kid I preferred frozen fries right out of the freezer. It was a nice cold starchy treat.


You two: HOT OR GTFO!

ummmm...

I mean, have it your way.
posted by evilDoug at 6:36 AM on February 5


This isn’t a class issue, it’s a working within the system as designed issue.

I've not seen the idea that class and working within the system as designed are unrelated concepts before.


But I came in to ask, is this McDonald's exclusive? Because we never threw out the chips at KFC that I can remember. If there was an age limit, it would have to have been one you just didn't hit, like an hour or two.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 6:40 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


There are many fresher, better, restaurants in the same price bracket as McDonald's if you want a treat on the cheap.

Going to a fast food restaurant is not 'a treat on the cheap', to me. It's a treat, period. It's paying somebody else to put in the time & effort to make the meal. It costs me more. If I want a treat on the cheap, I'll have to stay home and make it myself, or find some place giving food away for free... That is, if I can afford the gas to get there and back.

Just as a point of data, when I do eat out at a fast food place, I go during a slow period of the day, usually around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. I prefer to go at that time because there's no crowd, the crew working the grill won't be under excessive pressure to handle my special request, and best of all, no self-important shithead is behind me to get all miffed that I've somehow inconvenienced them by asking for fresh french fries.

Crisp and tasty fries aren't the only good thing in my life, thankfully. But it isn't about the food, it's about the expectation of being able to enjoy something, however small and trivial that might be, in an otherwise drab and unsympathetic existence.

One more thing: it's been my life experience that when someone uses the phrase 'I'm not judging you,' it's safe to assume they are.
posted by KHAAAN! at 6:46 AM on February 5 [12 favorites]


The inedibility time gets sped up if you add vinegar. McD fries have to be reeeeeally hot coming out to justify adding vinegar. If they're just hot, it's not worth it, they cool down too quickly and get mushy. But if you can add vinegar? Just half the pack, a few drops sprinkled everywhere? MmmmmMMMMMmmMMMMmMmMmmmm...
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:47 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


It sounds like we're both poor as fuck, KHAAAN!

Solidarity, friend. Again, I apologize for my shitty rhetoric. I can hold my opinions without judging you, I promise.
posted by thoroughburro at 6:49 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


But I came in to ask, is this McDonald's exclusive? Because we never threw out the chips at KFC that I can remember

Weren't the KFC fries held in a warming chamber? The chicken is stored in a CVap cabinet which can keep the chicken warm and/or crispy for very long periods of time, but I don't recall if the potatoes were held the same way.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:51 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


I was annoyed enough by the framing of this story on the MSN homepage, which was crafted tonimply that McDonalds fries were changing formula, enough to send in a feedback message complaining. Because, apparently, I didn't have anything better to do.

As for not waiting so long to eat them too long after preparation, well, duh. They're french fries. They even beat out coffee for becoming so rapidly unconsumable as it cools.
posted by JHarris at 6:51 AM on February 5


The ideal scenario for me, eating McDonald's french fries, is that I am loading up on calories and salt before my shift begins, so I will be sitting in the car attempting to wolf down a large order in two minutes or less, along with a soda (which can be carried into work, so less of a rush there). If the fries are too fresh, it's problematic. Slows you down. The middle ground is perfect, still warm enough to be delicious but cool enough to really shovel in. There's no euphoria like the moment after shotgunning a large order of piping hot french fries so quickly you still have 30-45 seconds before you have to go in to work. Your belly a furnace, your mouth scorched, spirit ballooning with carbs and sugars. These moments will be lost in the coming utopia of 12-hour work weeks and farm-to-table everything.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 6:54 AM on February 5 [12 favorites]


sic transit gloria frenchfri
posted by otherchaz at 6:55 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


MetaFilter: french fries are a process
posted by Foosnark at 6:56 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


Weren't the KFC fries held in a warming chamber?

Wait, I missed that the Maccas chips aren't?! Why on earth? No wonder they're cold sometimes.
Presumably there is a good reason.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 6:57 AM on February 5


I thought it was a well-known fact that since McDonald’s quite using beef tallow to fry, that their fries had slid into the crapper.

As for the tragedy of working within the system to get the least-horrific meal, I recall a time long ago when I still ate fast food. I ordered four (yes, judge me) bean burritos from the Taco John’s at the mall. With extra super hot sauce (the only reason to eat there instead of Taco Bell). And, I added, “a large water.”

When the order came, it had one of those little shot glasses of water. I pointed this out. “We only serve small waters,” the counter guy sniffed. A satanic flash of inspiration hit me. “Okay then, I’d like six waters.” He weaseled around a bit, but realized he had met his equal in food bureaucracy and cheapness and added the water to my tray.

So, it can get even more tragic than someone’s special fry order in line ahead of you.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 6:58 AM on February 5 [13 favorites]


I worked at a McDonald's for a while and people often used the unsalted fries trick to try to get fresher fries. So many people did it that we had a separate hopper of unsalted fries ready all the time. This meant quite often ordering them unsalted would get you older fries than we had available. We had people order the unsalted fries, sit down, salt them, and then come back to complain "these fries aren't new! I ordered them unsalted!" as if unsalted literally meant 'make a new batch.'

They say that the fries "are a big old nope by minute 18" but that's the peak of when I think they're good. I can't eat them for the first several minutes because they're so hot. Then some kind of strange magic starts happening that for me is a bell curve where they get better by sitting before they start to go back downhill.

They even beat out coffee for becoming so rapidly unconsumable as it cools.

You probably don't want to know how old coffee has to get before I won't drink it.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 6:59 AM on February 5 [17 favorites]


The french fries have to be hot enough that when you dip them in the milkshake they sort of melt their way in, like a heated drill. But not too hot that when you pull them out they don't have a bit of ice cream still stuck to them.
posted by Nelson at 7:02 AM on February 5 [10 favorites]


How does the addition of gravy and curd cheese affect the eating time? I think it would increase it because the gravy would add much more thermal mass, and you are less concerned with crispy fries when having poutine.

Not that McD's has good poutine, but it is a possibility in Canada.

I prefer my fries with a dusting of finely shredded parmesan, a sou-scant of chives and a drizzle of truffle oil.
posted by koolkat at 7:05 AM on February 5


I like cold french fries right out of the fridge, maybe even more than "fresh" ones. Call me a monster if you like.
I've also seen my kids dipping their cold McDonalds fries in yogurt. Children are a little bit like cats, a lot of what they do belongs to another plane of existence.
posted by elgilito at 7:08 AM on February 5 [6 favorites]


Wait, I missed that the Maccas chips aren't?! Why on earth? No wonder they're cold sometimes. Presumably there is a good reason.

I've worked with McD on kitchen tech, and they don't change anything without years and years of research and thought and experimentation and testing and more testing and.....blergh... did I mention testing?

So the fries system harks back to the first day of operation, and they simply didn't have any kind of holding technology available other than heat lamps. Some things like burgers have moved on to cooking ahead-of-time and holding the proteins in humidity-controlled warming chambers (and don't get me started on what that did to food quality).

But the fries are sacred. They also move so quickly that holding cabinets really wouldn't work. The whole formula changeup there's-tallow-no-there-isn't-oh-yeah-maybe-there-is thing was a fiasco they'd rather avoid talking about ever again. I'm sure they wish they could go back to the old beef shortening to get that classic flavor and consistency back but OMFG you don't want to know what the nutrition statistics are on that stuff.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:31 AM on February 5 [9 favorites]


Heat an ungreased frying pan. Add cold fries. Toast for a few minutes on high heat, shaking occasionally, until they whistle from escaping steam. Hot, crispy fries again.
posted by sexyrobot at 7:32 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


If you want the good version just go to Burger king.

In Sweden you can just go to Max straight away. Their fries are actually called Crispy Fries.
posted by Vesihiisi at 7:37 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Dear ask metafilter. I have some day old french fries. Should I dip them in a) ketchup, b) catsup, c) mustard, d) mayo or e) yogurt?
posted by Gorgik at 7:37 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


Dude don't eat them! Did you miss the post about the dude that died of everything failure after eating pasta that had been out for 5 days?
posted by tclark at 7:41 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


I'm glad Nelson brought up dipping fries in your shake. It is truly the best way to eat at least some of your fries at McDonald's (or any fast food joint - except maybe Wendy's because the Frosty is too thick.)
posted by vespabelle at 7:45 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


I feel like the methodological flaw here is that of course enjoyment goes down over time just due to you're getting acclimated to fry deliciousness. I mean your first fry is obviously going to be WOW, but **even if the fries are 100% consistent in their quality over time** you're not going to be as impressed by later fries. I think they needed to have people start their fry-rating at different points. So let's say you would have ten people, they each eat a fry every minute *BUT* one person starts as soon as fries arrive. Next person has their first fry 2 minutes later (and then has fries every minute after that), Next person has their first fry 4 minutes after the first minute (and then every minute after that, etc.).

I realize this requires a lot more fry testers. I am willing to volunteer to be a fry tester.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:50 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


(or any fast food joint - except maybe Wendy's because the Frosty is too thick.)

How dare! Wendy's frosties were made for this. It's basically the only way I've ever had frosties since I was a teenager.
posted by Sequence at 7:54 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


They’re great, then they’re good, then they’re mostly edible, then they’re cast aside.

matches well with

I'm starving, I'm hungry, I'm full, I'm nauseous.
posted by chavenet at 7:55 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


I worked at McDs when I was a teenager. They did actually discard food that ages out. There was a special trash bin to put this food in, and one of the managers would take it in back every couple hours to record exactly what was discarded. (Disgusting job!)

If the waste inventory showed you did not throw out enough, the store got dinged for not keeping the food fresh enough. They tracked what was sold, what was wasted, and it was supposed to roughly match what came in, or you'd get dinged on inventory, they would assume someone was stealing.
posted by elizilla at 7:57 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


unsalted fries

I worked a summer at Burger King, and their thing is flame-broiled burgers. They have this ingenious motorized gas grill where the grill moves slowly over the flames, and the whole thing is enclosed, so you just feed frozen patties in one end and about 4 minutes later they drop out the other end, fully cooked with grill marks seared in. The grill was like 4 feet wide so you could get a lot in there, on a busy lunch or dinner rush you might have upwards of a hundred patties making their way through the broiler.

People customized their orders, no big deal (unless you asked for extra onions, in which case we’d just say there there were more onions on your burger, because according to the boss “No one wants a mouthful of onion”), but this one guy would regularly ask for his Whopper rare. This meant waiting for the broiler to be empty and then cranking the speed of the grill-track up so his one pattie could be undercooked, massively fucking up our whole process (which was probably why he did it).
posted by rodlymight at 8:02 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


I feel like the methodological flaw here is that of course enjoyment goes down over time just due to you're getting acclimated to fry deliciousness.

This is exactly why multidimensional analysis was invented. Dude needs to learn some calculus and try again. Then we can start to draw some real conclusions from the function of: fry temp over time vs intrinsic fry deliciousness vs human satisfaction (or "wow") profile vs time fries sit under heatlamps vs number of times oblivious McDonald's employee has salted the fries, completely unaware that they already salted this batch, as has everyone else working behind the counter, some more than twice.
posted by sexyrobot at 8:12 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


My daughter is obsessed with potatoes, dressed up as one for Halloween. She would gladly eat old McDs fries found under the seat of the car, although she may wipe it off on her pants first.
posted by waving at 8:15 AM on February 5 [6 favorites]


OK, speaking as an ex-McD's cashier...You set up baskets ahead of time, so dropping a fresh batch of fries takes maybe thirty seconds, if you are at the station all the way at the other end from the fryer. If it's busy, you probably should have dropped it already. They don't throw out the old fries just because someone dropped a new batch! Jeez. So you, drop-requester, step to the side while the cashier sells old fries to people who don't mind, and then when the new batch is ready, you get your fries.

Some of the comments here are almost comically middle-class-trying-to-be-class-conscious-without-the-necessary-data.
posted by praemunire at 8:19 AM on February 5 [14 favorites]


i want frie
posted by poffin boffin at 8:24 AM on February 5 [9 favorites]


I think this might be a Scissor Statement
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:38 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


giv frie
posted by poffin boffin at 8:39 AM on February 5 [9 favorites]


"Some of the comments here are almost comically middle-class-trying-to-be-class-conscious-without-the-necessary-data."

Are you referring to me? If so, adjust your class-dar. I might be comical, I might be ascerbic when upset, but I ain't middle fucking class.
posted by thoroughburro at 8:40 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


I was fist pumping at the premise of the whole thing, and then TOTALLY DELIGHTED when I realized that one of the authors is a friend of mine! Yeah, Kate! Missoula, represent!
posted by ikahime at 9:00 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


I recently worked in a warehouse and had a very strict timed lunch. McD's was the best alternative. Go to drive-in and get food and go to parking lot at McD's and eat. The key to the fries in addition to them being hot, very hot, and the salt of course is the Hot Mustard dipping sauce. I cannot say what the final half life is because I never got or get to more than 4 or 5 minutes, tops. When you are in your car, and driving and reaching for the fries, the big issue is where to wipe the grease and salt, on the steering wheel or your pants.

My friends have this concept when they order from Uber Eats or a similar delivery service. Fries for the driver. They get an extra order of fries in a separate bag for the driver on the theory that then they won't pilfer a few of yours and will come deliver faster.
posted by AugustWest at 9:14 AM on February 5 [6 favorites]


When I was little, I would take the pointiest and hardest of my fries and poke them into the top of my Filet-O-Fish like birthday candles into a cake. I'd usually get a few lines into "Happy Birthday to Me" before Mom or Dad would bring up the inadvisability of playing with food, singing at the table, and making a public spectacle. Not big fans of guerilla dinner theater, Mom and Dad.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:22 AM on February 5 [6 favorites]


I'm gonna go back and read the discussion, but has anyone answered "why is it, when I have the thought 'I hope the next fry isn't the gross fry' it almost always shows up in the next 4 fries?"
posted by ersatzkat at 9:23 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


When you are in your car, and driving and reaching for the fries, the big issue is where to wipe the grease and salt, on the steering wheel or your pants.

Tie a bandanna around your neck right before you go.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:25 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


As a kid I preferred frozen fries right out of the freezer. It was a nice cold starchy treat.

We had a cat who loved frozen fries. She usually hung out on top of the fridge while anyone was cooking. If you were making frozen fries and dropped one, fwoom! Shirley would leap down in a streak of orange and white, grab the prize, and boing back "upstairs" for some happy gnawing.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:50 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


British chippie chips are often horrible straight from the oil, not cooked through. It’s like they need to finish cooking by sitting for a while in that weird metal holding area they have under the fish display section. That’s why I won’t wait for chips if they’ve run out. When they are cooked right though, they are great. Big soggy vinegary steamy delight as you wait for a bus in the rain.

If you get McDonalds or In N Out to eat at home, layout the fries on the toaster oven tray and give them a couple of minutes in there. Just like new.
posted by w0mbat at 9:51 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


mcdonalds fries aren't actually good. they just taste like your early childhood, before the endless possibilities started crumbling away and you realized that death and rot awaits you no matter what you do. the first time your parents took you there was before the first time you saw your dad cry, or the first time your mom let slip the fact that she resents you, possibly the most out of all her kids. you tasted your first mcdonalds french fry before you took that tree frog home in a jar and woke up the next morning to find a dried out husk and understood that you have the power to cause pain and destruction without even meaning to. there is no magic timeframe or special way to phrase your order that will make the mcdonalds french fry taste like that again, stop chasing that dragon. what do you think you would find if you managed to pull its tail?

burger king fries though, lol fuck that shit
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:13 AM on February 5 [29 favorites]


The beef in the french fries got India's knickers in a twist back when Yesterday's apology triggered a violent protest by Hindus in India.
posted by infini at 11:00 AM on February 5


It should be possible to flash fry a fry in a pneumatic tube full of hot oil while delivering it to a table, at a button press. Then the back of house just has to keep the frozen fry hopper topped off.

What could posssibly go wrong.

(Paging Harry Harrison and I suppose also Elon Musk?)
posted by joeyh at 11:28 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


OK Sharks, so you know the concept of hot pot. Well, we take that and twist it.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:45 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


If you get McDonalds or In N Out to eat at home, layout the fries on the toaster oven tray and give them a couple of minutes in there. Just like new.

I have a tfal fryer thing -- like it's not actually a fryer, it just releases hot hair and there's a little rotor like a washing machine thing htat moves the content of the pan around. it's mostly made for French Fries. ANyway, if you have one of those, *that's* the way to reheat fries.

And not only that, but if you ever order fries from Swiss Chalet for delivery, you know that what are not-great fries in restaurant, are absolutely terrible delivered. They steam in the package and get all soggy and gross. Solution is to stick them in that T-fal fryer, multiple times. Like right after the delivery arrives, I dump them all in there. Wait a couple of minutes and pour the grease out of the pan. (yep...gross). Cook a little longer in there...pour grease out of the pan. Repeat. Once the grease amount starts decreasing, start wiping the grease clean off the pan with a paper towel before putting the fries back in. They will actually crisp up eventually and you'll be horrified to know how much grease is in your Swiss Chalet fries. Like I swear if you put two orders of fries in there you can probably drain half a cup of oil out.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:03 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


Yeah we have the same t-fal fryer thing and when we julienne two pounds of potatoes we just put in like two tablespoons of bacon grease and that's it. Well, plus lotsa salt and a shot of Tabasco and a tablespoon of Montreal Steak seasoning .... It does take like 50 minutes to cook them to crisp AF but so good, so so good.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:08 PM on February 5


Huh...I confess I've never gotten the t-fal fryer to make decent fries from potatoes. I cook frozen fries in it (and don't put in any oil). I tried actual potatoes in the beginning and they never came out as good as fast-food fries or frozen fries. They were more like homefries, which are not my thing.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:10 PM on February 5


Huh...I confess I've never gotten the t-fal fryer to make decent fries from potatoes.

I put the pieces of potato in a gallon ziplock bag with some oil and Jane's Crazy Mixed-Up Salt, toss 'em together, and let them sit few minutes before putting them in the air fryer. I love how they come out. I mean, they don't taste the same as fast food fries, but I find them comparable to fresh-cut fryer fries.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:35 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Yesterday's apology triggered a violent protest

Am I wrong to think that what the world needs more of today is violent protests in the wake of mealymouthed nonapologies?
posted by chavenet at 1:50 PM on February 5


McDonald's fries are better the newer they are, this much is true. And the crunch is created by grabbing a cluster of them with a three fingered pinch like a coin-op carnival prize machine and cramming them in your om nom nom nom. They also need to be correctly salted, and some locations under/oversalt them. The salt level needs more attention than it used to when they used to use beef tallow. And, I suspect the temperature matters more now too. You can kind of taste a vegetal note and coating when they get cold, now.

Fatburger has good steak fries, if you have them. Jack-n-the-box has decent (regular) fries. Burger King is gross.

Also, In-and-Out has terrible, freezer-bag quality fries. (And bible verses.) The burgers aren't that special either (especially in SoCal) but the fries are downright bad.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:53 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


And on vinegar, buy krinkle cut sea salt Kettle potato chips (brand or generic) and then douse them in Heinz malt vinegar.

Good with hot dogs.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:54 PM on February 5


...Or, just go to Five Guys, which has bottles on the tables.
posted by praemunire at 2:12 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Or go to BK for onion rings.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:37 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


It should be possible to flash fry a fry in a pneumatic tube full of hot oil while delivering it to a table, at a button press.

I mean, it kinda works that way for burritos.
posted by hanov3r at 2:46 PM on February 5


the fries should be launched from afar through a gravity-defying sheet of boiling oil directly into my slavering maw
posted by poffin boffin at 2:59 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


If the waste inventory showed you did not throw out enough, the store got dinged for not keeping the food fresh enough.

This is why the world ends.
posted by tavegyl at 3:31 PM on February 5 [4 favorites]


I was devastated when I learned McDonald's fries aren't vegetarian, let alone vegan. They add beef flavoring to them. GAH!! Whataburger fries are my jam these days.
posted by entropos at 3:48 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


re: custom fries

I used to work at a NYFries in highschool. Corporate took their fries pretty seriously, and to be honest, they're pretty good fries (although I burnt out on them for about a decade).

The potatoes are a specific variety and we'd have to hand-cut them (with a table-mounted potato press) into a huge polypropylene bucket - probably 200L - that we'd top up with water. Every so often when you grab a potato from the cardboard box, it'd look like a regular potato but some microorganism/ bug had gotten into it and rendered the insides a foul, stinky, soft-cheese texture held in by the intact potato skin, and it would burst if you grabbed it too hard.

Baskets of raw fries are first blanched in hot oil (the oldest - we'd siphon off and re-use the oil [a limited number of cycles] when cleaning the fryers at end of day - I once had a hot wire grill get stuck to my forearm, and I had scars from that for about a decade), then the baskets are lifted and the fries allowed to drain.

After draining, the fries are re-fried at a different temperature of oil, then lifted and drained to be ready for the final step.

During busy periods, these fries are fried in the final temperature and dumped into the salting/ loading area. When it was quieter, we'd do the final step only after someone makes an order.

It was common for people to ask for "crispier" or "less crispy" fries and we'd happily oblige.

Full shifts came with a complementary meal - whatever we could fit on a particular type of container (sales are recorded by containers sold, not potatoes/ fries prepared). I'd make up some extra crispy fries, top with cheese curds (they weren't bad!), hot gravy, and "California seasoning."

brb, I need some "California seasoning."
posted by porpoise at 4:02 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


you put weed on your fries?
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:07 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


It was common for people to ask for "crispier" or "less crispy" fries and we'd happily oblige.

At the restaurant where I worked in high school, some of the waitresses has really atrocious spelling. One night, one of them put in a slip for a sandwich and "Crissy Fries." We kind of figured she meant "crispy?" but we had learned the hard way never to take anything for granted, so I asked her. She got SO FREAKING MAD.

I have never been the kind of person who finds other people's anger or distress or any kind of negative emotions funny, but I had just had all I could take that night, so all I could do was giggle. "Crissy Fries" became kind of a running gag after that.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:52 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


I'd like to take a step back from the substance of the article to address the form. Specifically, the headline - "You have this many minutes to consume McDonald's French fries before they're inedible" - is a tremendous failure even on its own terms and this article could have been so much better with a better headline.

The headline is obvious clickbait: the use of "this many minutes" instead of stating a number is a clear tell. The editor has definitely taken a page out of the buzzfeed / huffpo / upworthy playbook and is trying to entice the reader to click through to find out how many minutes, exactly, they have. The problem, though, is that we have grown wise and weary towards this tactic - it doesn't work like it once did. Now, confronted with a teaser that promises to tell us how many minutes we have to finish our McDonald's fries, our initial thought is, "do I even care exactly how long I have to eat my McD's fries?" And the honest answer is, no I do not. I do not need to listen to you, thetakeout.com columnist, lecturing me on this topic. Next!

On the other hand, if they had picked a number and put it front and center, think how different the headline would have been! The article could support a range of different numbers, but taking them at their word, 11 minutes seems like a good deadline for best results. So imagine if the headline had been "You have 11 minutes to consume your McDonald's French fries." Now there is a sense of urgency - it's almost like a Mission Impossible message about to self destruct, or the bus in Speed about to dip below 55 MPH. And in more quotidian terms, eleven minutes is not that long to eat my lunch! Usually I have an hour, or at least 30-45 minutes. If the first eleven are key, I'm interested in that. But at the same time, the sense of whimsy remains - what are the stakes, really, if I eat my fries in a sub-optimal state? It's a delightful contrast, not unlike a french fry with a crispy crust and a soft interior.

Hold to the courage of your convictions, TheTakeout editors! Clickbait is not what it used to be. Withholding information is no longer the way to win readers.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 7:47 PM on February 5 [5 favorites]


I used to work at McDonald’s as a teen and the rule was to throw fries out after 7 minutes and start a new batch. I can eyeball a new fry, a 2 minute old fry and a 5min old fry easy. As a result, I’m severely team fresh fries.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:16 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


And to the commenter above, well done fries are burned fries. Trust me McDonald’s knows the Exact Frying Time.

Also that 7min above is severely degraded if you leave the basket hooked in above the frier. Like your fresh fries are 5minute fries in 45s.

The shit you remember. This was 20 years ago!
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:21 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


you put weed on your fries?

ha. ha. No, there was a seasoning powder that they offered for self administration. Similar to conventional "cajun blackening spice" but more crack-cocaine-like being a little tangy.

I was a "good" kid until I became a "bad" teenager; I was always a "conscientious" teenager, though - I did get high one shift, but I couldn't interact well enough with the cusotumers and stuff and being around the very large amounts of very hot oil. My "hot girdle scar" incident was not substance use related, but my experience being intoxicated on the job crystalized a point in my parameters of professionalism - don't show up fucked up. In the 20+ years since, that has never not been a good rule that should have been followed.
posted by porpoise at 10:07 PM on February 5


Getting fucked up after showing up is a completely different matter.
posted by porpoise at 10:14 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


Getting fucked up after showing up is a completely different matter.

BRB, going to take out the trash....
posted by mikelieman at 1:04 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


This thread wore down my willpower so off I went for some McDonald's only to discover they're now offering bacon cheese fries! Well, as I mentioned my willpower was already at a nadir.

Sad to report that the julienned gold standard is not a good fit for cheesing and baconing. I think you need a fatter cut, like a steak fry. (You know what, I'm going to stop thinking about it now. It's not like my willpower reserves refresh themselves that quickly.)
posted by whuppy at 6:37 AM on February 7 [3 favorites]


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