Why McDonald's fries taste good -
January 3, 2001 12:45 PM   Subscribe

Why McDonald's fries taste good - A very interesting article about Americans, food, and "flavoring." The statistic that made me gasp in shock was this: "About 90 percent of the money that Americans now spend on food goes to buy processed food." Is it any wonder the nation is so fat? Good grief.
posted by acridrabbit (23 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Oops - link via metascene via thewebtoday.
posted by acridrabbit at 12:45 PM on January 3, 2001

this is part of a book called 'fast food nation' that started off as a really great rolling stone piece.
posted by maura at 1:14 PM on January 3, 2001

Isn't, say, cutting corn then boiling then mushing that with some milk annd banana a processed food? If so, why this processed food is a bad thing.
posted by holloway at 2:17 PM on January 3, 2001

McDonalds fries taste good? From that title, I was expecting this to be a humor article.
posted by almostcool at 2:28 PM on January 3, 2001

Yep. Arsenic is 100% organic.

I'd heard, though, that the reason McD FF's taste the specific way theyt do did in fact have a lot to do with the way the potatos are prepared before blanch-frying: they let them age for a couple days, and some of the starch turns to sugar, making them sweeter, which, in fact, they are.

Interesting article, nonetheless.
posted by baylink at 2:30 PM on January 3, 2001

i have hilighted some of (i thought) the more interesting tidbits in the article.

page 1

page 2

[thanks e-quill!]

posted by o2b at 2:31 PM on January 3, 2001

If you were to package that banana mix and sell it you'd have a processed food in the sense that this article implies. However, the packaging techniques that we use to ship and distribute processed food routinely drains the food of any nutritional value. Which isn't a good thing.
posted by Doug at 2:32 PM on January 3, 2001

Everything is 100% organic, it's only the process to achieve a certain flavor or smell that is artificial.

I have eaten some great tasting fries, where they have added honey to the oil the cook the fries in.
posted by Zool at 2:59 PM on January 3, 2001

Yep. Nothing like burnt sugar to add a nice crispness and flavor to anything dipped in hot oil.
posted by kindall at 3:25 PM on January 3, 2001

I think that the point is being missed, here. Make french fries in your kitchen, that isn't processed food. Make them in a factory, and then have to add in 'french fry flavour' to replace what is removed by the process of making them, that is the problem.

Processed food is a problem because as we eat it, we reprogram ourselves to prefer it over the natural - some baby foods are hell to wean your kids from - once they have gotten used to processed banana taste, a real banana doesn't have enough banana flavour to interest them.

Plus it is just plain weird that the company that flavours cat food makes perfume.
posted by kristin at 3:52 PM on January 3, 2001

McDonald's french fries suck
posted by lagado at 5:33 PM on January 3, 2001

McDonald's fries are good. Oh, man, are they good. Oh geeeeez, do I want some.
posted by daveadams at 7:32 PM on January 3, 2001

I almost put quotes around the "good" in the headline, but I think that's against journalistic rules. Maybe I should have written ["good"]? Or good [italics mine]? Or [ed. note: i think they're gross]?
posted by acridrabbit at 8:18 PM on January 3, 2001

McDonald's Fries? Damn good stuff. I read this article a while ago when it was in the Print magazine. And they're right. McD's continues to be on the forefront of the fry industry. For instance, only McD's has the Bucket O' Fries. (Dunno what this is? It's not on the menu, but every McDonald's offers it. Conspiracy, I say!)

Even so, the bucket isn't enough. I need a bag o' fries.

The most distrubring thing in the article, in my opinion, was that McD's fries are cooked in beef fat. The only meat I like is chicken (although not for ethical reasons, but merely because I don't like the taste of red meat), so it was sort of odd to learn that.

And as for being weaned to like artificial flavors, who cares? Shouldn't that be a good thing? Will I ever be in a situation where it will be critical to my life to like "non-processed" flavors? Of course not. And the health content through artificial flavoring is much better. They could make chocolate with the health content of broccoli, for God's sakes. And I'd buy it.

posted by Kevs at 8:29 PM on January 3, 2001

That's a very good point Kevs, i'd be more likely to eat some supposedly healthy foods if they tasted like chocolate.
posted by Zool at 9:20 PM on January 3, 2001

Mickey D's wonderful fries are no longer cooked in beef tallow, although they probably tasted better 11 years ago when they were. I can't remember anymore.

They're still pretty damn good.
posted by daveadams at 9:28 PM on January 3, 2001

About 90 percent of the money that Americans now spend on food goes to buy processed food." Is it any wonder the nation is so fat? Good grief.

the only correlation i can put with processed food and a fat nation is the fact that we just keep eating and eating and eating, looking for some substantial value in the processed food porridge. but lord, we are a fat nation. you ever talk to anyone overseas that's visited here? that's always one of their first comments, "everyone's so fat!"
posted by bliss322 at 6:19 AM on January 4, 2001

Let the fries age for a few days to bring starch out in the form of sugar? Are you nuts? I would expect that they would be more likely to rinse them in a bath of (high fructose corn) sugar water since they have to rinse them anyway. That would require no additional time or space in the processing plant...
posted by plinth at 6:22 AM on January 4, 2001

They coat their fries with sugar so that they get that nice golden brown color when they're deep fried.

Anything tastes good when you deep-fry it.

Except for tofu.

posted by bondcliff at 8:39 AM on January 4, 2001

What's interesting is finding "natural flavor" listed as an ingredient to things you'd think it wouldn't be present in. Like Vlasic Kosher Dill Spears. Ingredients as listed, "cucumbers, water, distilled vinegar, salt, calcium chloride, polysorbate 80, natural flavors, yellow #5".

Kristen has a great point. It makes me think that natural flavors are in some cases being used to alter, rather than duplicate, the taste of the food that's being processed. I mean, why on earth add natural flavor to a pickle?
posted by Trampas at 10:46 AM on January 4, 2001


I'm glad I buy my food fresh at the farmer's market.
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:56 AM on January 4, 2001

I've never been particularly impressed with McDonald's fries, but then I'm not much into fries. I do prefer them from Wendy's generally.

Here in Las Vegas we have In N Out Burgers (along with So California) who cut the potatoes miniutes before frying them in some kind of hot oil (I think they claim vegetable oil). The result is a different kind of flavor, distinctly different from the usual fast food. I didn't like it at first, but it has grown on me.

And I said I didn't much like fries...
posted by mutagen at 2:34 PM on January 4, 2001

Foods which have lots of carbohydrates, make you release dopamine, which could explain the world's love of fries.

posted by Zool at 3:14 PM on January 4, 2001

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