Tag Archive for fries

Why the Hell Would You Eat That? McD’s Fries

It doesn’t take a genius to understand McDonald’s food isn’t great for you, and after seeing Supersize Me, I tend to avoid the golden arches as best I can. There are times, however, I’m in a hurry or I want to let the Rugrats abuse the McD’s indoor playplace, so I cave and order something.

This time we’d just finished a veterinary visit for our cat and needed to grab something quick on the way home. McD’s was handy and convenient. As I ate my fries, I recalled a claim that, “McDonald’s fries haven’t been within two miles of a real potato.” I was never sure that was accurate, but the fries certainly don’t look or taste like fresh-cut fries I get at some restaurants, or like fried potatoes made at home.

I know someone who worked for McDonald’s briefly in the ’60s, and she said potatoes used to be delivered directly to the restaurants. Today, a manager I know says the fries are delivered pre-cut and ready for the frier. So what’s really in them?

To the Internet! Here’s a video of how McDonald’s fries are made, courtesy McD’s Canada:

At first, it seems all is well. Lots of potatoes, peeled and sliced and sent off to the restaurants where they’re fried in canola oil. Okay, fair enough. But let’s listen a little closer, shall we?

At the 2:10 mark, Mario says:

Once the potatoes are cut, we push the strips through a blancher to remove the natural sugars from the strips. This will prevent some variation in our color once we re-cook the product.

So McD’s fries are blanched to remove natural flavoring? WTF?

So following the blanching process, we add a dextrose solution to add that nice even coat we see at the restaurants.

They “remove the natural sugars” but then turn around and add dextrose, a sugar. And then it gets a little scarier:

We also add an ingredient to our strips to make sure we prevent the graying of our product throughout the process.

Note he doesn’t tell us what this ingredient is. I’d have to guess it’s some kind of preservative, or something like a bleaching agent. I’m no organic nut, but it seems to me we just don’t need that crap. McD’s, if you’re going to go through the trouble to tell us how you’re doctoring up our food, at least have the balls to fess up on the mystery ingredient.

Keep watching and we learn after the fries are sprayed with the mystery ingredient, they’re dried, fried, and frozen. In other words, they’re cooked twice before they leave the factory, then they’re re-fried (read: re-heated) at the restaurant.

I don’t get it.

Their point to this video seems to be, “Hey, look, we use real potatoes!” My takeaway is more like, “We care more about how the food looks than what’s in it.” Most of the flavor in these things is the salt. Hold the salt and a McD’s french fry doesn’t necessarily taste bad, but it sure doesn’t taste like a regular potato. Most of their flavor is marketing.

There’s a bar not far from here that slices their potatoes in-house. Order them loaded and you get real shredded cheese and chopped bacon, not cheese sludge and bacon bits. They cost a little more, but I’ll take their fries over McD’s any time.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

That's Why I Don't Eat It

Take a few minutes to browse through this fast food nutrition chart provided by A Calorie Counter. You can click the charts to sort the various columns, essentially ranking foods and restaurants by calories, fat content, trans fats, and so on.

I played around with it this morning, and man, it’ll curl your hair. If you consider the alleged average person’s daily intake of 2,000 calories, one meal at Mickey D’s could kill your day. For example, a Big Mac and a large fry come to a total of 1,110 calories, and that’s without the 42-ounce soda they try to upgrade you to (which, by the way, is damn near half a gallon, and I know someone who says she drinks 2-3 of these a day because she works for the Evil Arches).

It’s also a good reminder that even chicken isn’t safe. When I go to Hardee’s, I like to get their charbroiled chicken club sandwich. I don’t always get the fries, but let’s assume I did (and use the large info, because medium isn’t provided). That comes to 1,170 calories. Hrm. Maybe the difference is in the fat?

Nope. McD’s comes to 59 total grams and Hardee’s to 58. Hardly enough to give chicken a definitive edge. Trans fats? 9.5 grams at McD’s. Hardee’s? “Unknown.” In the end, if you’re going to eat fast food you may as well stick to your favorites, because they’re all going to kill you the same way. You may be able to pick and choose based on fats and trans fats, but the calories are still what adds up around the waistline.

If I run a Basal Metabolic Rate calculation, I should be able to take in about 2,200 calories a day and maintain my current weight. A Hardee’s lunch gets me halfway there. My wife is quite a bit smaller than I, and the BMR calculator says that same lunch is 75% of her daily calories. By the way, that’s without the bucket of soda they serve you. Ever see a Hardee’s medium? It’s a large at most restaurants. Sure, I get iced tea instead of soda, but if it comes out of the same Syrup of Death machine, it can’t be much better, can it?

I guess Hardee’s is fine if I want to eat like a rabbit the rest of the day. But wait a minute, what about subs?

I like Jimmy John’s. I think their sandwiches blow Subway’s away, and I like that I can say “Give me this sandwich, no tomatoes” and they have it to me in 17 seconds or less. My personal favorite is the Italian nightclub sandwich, usually on their whole-grain wheat bread which makes the whole package look like a Dagwood special. It’s a deli sandwich, so it’s got to be better than that McD’s crap, right?

Not so much, actually: 1,011 calories and 57 grams of fat. That’s for the sandwich alone, no side of chips. I guess that’s the end of giant clubs. The good news, at least, is if I can limit myself to the 8″ sandwiches, I can cut that calorie count in half: the Big John, a basic roast beef sandwich, weighs in with 558 calories and 27 grams of fat. Good if not great, and certainly filling.

Unfortunately there’s not a convenient Jimmy John’s around, so let’s look at Subway. I like the Italian BMT, untoasted, on wheat bread, with pepperjack cheese. That’s 450 calories and 21 grams of fat. Throw on mustard, mayo, vinegar, oil, lettuce, and onion, and it’s probably in the Big John’s neighborhood. I can also get mik instead of soda, but I give Jimmy John’s the nod for having a bigger sandwich (8″ vs 6″ and having tastier bread).

Now let’s make it a little more fair. Even at the delis, you’re probably going to get a side item. Subway doesn’t have lists for their chips (probably because the selection varies by franchise), but the Jimmy John’s house brand jalapeño chips have 150 calories, so let’s call that a chip average. You’re still topping out around 700 calories of food at a deli shop, saving you a good 400 calories over their fry-pushing cousins.

Notice I didn’t say burger-pushing. For sandwiches alone, the burger-based fast food joints don’t do too bad. A Wendy’s spicy chicken fillet sandwich is 440 calories, which puts it neck-and-neck with Subway in the sandwich battle. No, it’s the 540 calories in their fries that does the real damage.

Consider the fact you can’t get out of spitting distance of a McD’s in a big city, and half the time you can find a Burger King and/or Wendy’s right across the street. They all have their snazzy combos, they all push those mega fries and super-sized drinks on you for just a few cents more, and most people consider that a full meal. They bombard us with commercials, and at lunchtime you can find their drive-through window lines backed up to the street.

Is it any wonder we’re staring down an obesity epidemic?

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.