French Fry Taste Test

Wherein we select the best fast-food fried taters in the land

You want fries with that?" Hell, yes!

They're among everyone's guilty pleasures. Kids in paper hats drop frozen potato sticks into bubbling grease and out they come, hot and golden and ready for salt. Eat them right away and they can be a junk-food delicacy. Buy them after they've sat under the heat lamp for a while and, well ... not so good.

Our collective taste buds in the Weekly Planet editorial department wondered: How do fast-food fries really taste when directly compared to each other, and outside the context of other trashy eats like burgers or nuggets.

Not as good as we expected.

We don't really stop and taste them, do we? To-go fries are best when they're peeking at you from the box on the passenger seat, saying, "Go 'head, have just a couple." So we do. Mmmm, goooood. We grab a couple more. If there's any left in the bag by the time we pull the keys out of the ignition, it's a bonus. Or sometimes, fries are just the things we stuff in our mouth along with the other on-the-run eats that we don't taste at all.

Well, we tasted 'em for you. In our usual highly scientific fashion, we conducted the Weekly Planet Fast-Food French Fries Taste Test. Ten staffers gathered just before lunch time on a late January weekday. We synchronized our watches and dispatched people to McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Checkers, Kentucky Fried Chicken and — call it our wild card — Krystal. The drivers hustled back to the office with reckless abandon. We dumped each restaurant's fries into a separate, numbered brown paper bag (also used to measure grease content). The testers ate from each, rated the fries from 1-10 and added some comments.

Here now, our findings:

THE WINNERKentucky Fried Chicken 6.8

One tester ID'ed them instantly, waxing, "KFC potato logs are God's own side." Collectively, the group clearly favored the actual taste of potato in our fries. KFC's are thick wedges (the portions were huge), crispy on the outside, steamy mush inside. "The dream fry — the inside is like a baked potato," commented another. Not all were sold, though. Said one, "Tastes more like chicken than 'taters." KFC's wedges won the grease contest, leaving a smear on the table under the bag. You see a correlation here?

Burger King 6.2

BK's were the favorites in the general category of standard fast-food french fries. "Crisp on the outside, soft on the inside. Yum!" exalted one tester who gave them a 9. Our most high-brow taster gave BK a 7, adding, "slight hint of onion on the palate." Not everyone was sold, as in the muncher who wrote, "Crispy, but gross."

Krystal 6.1

Krystal's rep, deserved or not, is that they serve far-and-away the greasiest fast-food burgers in the area code. Its fries were surprisingly firm, though, without much exterior crunch. "Perfect blend of salt and oil. Not too dry, not too oil-soaked," wrote one tester. Two folks pegged them as McDonald's ("McTasty, McSalty, McSoggy.")

Checkers 4.9

A love-'em-or hate-'em proposition. A number of testers liked Checkers' seasoning, which sets them apart from the others. Others felt it left a "horrible aftertaste," and "tasted like they were fried in butter." Perhaps more than any of the others, Checkers suffered from a brief car ride: "Good when fresh, gnarly after about eight minutes."

Wendy's 4.1

The main complaint with Wendy's fries was dryness, although testers also found them "a little bland," "each fry consistently average," "metallic," and "hollow; are there really 'taters in here?"

McDonald's 4.1

You'd have to call this one a surprise. It's a veritable truism that Mickey D's has the best fries of in the fast food nation. Not so with this group of tasters. Mickey fries clearly did not fare well during the car ride. They were pegged "soggy," "thin," "overcooked," "too soft" and "limp." But one tester liked their character: "Mushy, witty little guys."

About The Author

Eric Snider

Eric Snider is the dean of Bay area music critics. He started in the early 1980s as one of the founding members of Music magazine, a free bi-monthly. He was the pop music critic for the then-St. Petersburg Times from ‘87-’93. Snider was the music critic, arts editor and senior editor of Weekly Planet/Creative...
Scroll to read more News Feature articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.