, in all their greasy, golden splendor, are one of the greatest culinary achievements in human history. Indeed, where would the noble cheeseburger be without the accompaniment of its trusty companion, the French fry? Yet despite their fairly basic preparation, only requiring oil, potatoes, and salt, the variation among French fries amongst the millions of restaurants serving them is really quite remarkable. No two establishments are identical in their French fry production, but perhaps due to their relative simplicity and high degree of variability, it is rather simple and straightforward to compare one restaurant's fries to another.
It's easy to look down upon fast food restaurants. Some highly celebrated foodies seem to harbor within themselves a deeply seated hostility for such entities, viewing them as a plague upon the American culinary culture. I don't eat fast food too often, but I hold no contempt for such places. In a pinch, they serve their purpose relatively well, and in my opinion, do not deserve the scorn some have strewn in their direction.
Fast food French fries are consumed by the bucket load on a daily basis. There is certainly no shortage in the Natural State...indeed, somehow McDonald's has managed to win "best fries in Arkansas" numerous times in our Reader's Choice
poll. This fact caused me to reconsider the merits of the fast food French fry. I realized that I had not eaten the fries of certain fast food restaurants in many years, and in some cases, never. So, in the name of due journalistic diligence, I struck out to sample and score the major fast food fries in central Arkansas. Here's how it went down: Total scores
were generated for each restaurant based on a collection of subscores
(10 points each) representing different pivotal aspects of any respectable French fry. Subscores were totaled and a final score awarded; the six contestants were thus ranked accordingly.
Subscore categories included: Freshness
(based primarily upon the temperature at which the fries were served)Potato-ness
(or the essence of potato, based primarily on the ability of the fry to retain a natural potato flavor)Seasoning
(based primarily on the proper use of salt or other proprietary seasonings applied to the fry)Crispness
(obviously, based on the crispness or crunchiness of each fry, or lack of sogginess therein)
Here are the results:
- Sonic (left), Burger King (right)
: Freshness: 6, Potato: 2, Seasoning: 1, Crisp: 2= Total 11/40
To my recollection, this was the first time I've ever eaten fries from Sonic...and I thank my lucky stars for this fact. Without a doubt, Sonic served up the poorest portrayal of what a decent French fry should be. There seemed to be almost no seasoning involved; each fry was screaming for a touch of salt. The fries tasted as if they were not even distant relatives of the potato, and perhaps the most unpardonable sin was their limp, lifeless body, almost completely lacking any crispness whatsoever. #5 Burger King
: Freshness: 4, Potato: 4, Seasoning: 4, Crisp: 3= Total 15/40
At one point in my life, whilst in the thralls of high school, I really respected the Whopper. This alone brought me back into the palace of The King fairly regularly. But it's been some time since I've had a complete meal at Burger King, and so I was rather surprised by the rather poor showing The King had made in the field of French fries. Overall, I found the fries to be rather uneventful, lacking much freshness, and they quickly became cold. They tasted of unthawed, previously frozen potato and were also poorly seasoned. I was not reluctant to toss the remainder of my uneaten fries in the garbage.