Full disclosure. My first job was at McDonald’s. I scooped fries for two years before I went to college. At the end of that time, there wasn’t much on the McDonald’s menu that I would eat. French fries were the exception. McDonald’s has perfected the mass-produced fry, and they have the customer loyalty to prove it.
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So what’s the secret to their success? To begin with, the finished product is flawless. The fries are blemish free, and fried to perfection.
Back in the 60’s, McDonald’s had two innovative men on staff. Food Scientist Ken Strong and Food Researcher Edwin Traisman patented the McDonald’s frozen French Fry process. Many consider this to be the secret of McDonald’s early success, as the fries were consistent in quality and taste at all of the restaurants.
The process begins with potato selection. PotatoPro notes that Macfries (as they’re officially known in-house) are either Russet Burbank, Shepody, or Pentland Dell. The potatoes are then steam-skinned. Any visual imperfections are pulled or trimmed by hand.
After that, it is into the cannon. They potatoes are accelerated to 75 MPH down a tube. At the end is a grid of knives that cut the uniform thickness.
After the cut, they’re inspected with an optical scanner that can find even more minute imperfections.
From there, the potatoes are blanched. The blanched fries are then air dried. Those air dried pieces are flash fried, but not fully cooked.
The last stop is the freezer. After being placed in large bags, the potatoes are frozen and will stay frozen until they are needed in the kitchen at your local franchise.
And a tip from the inside. Don’t drop a frozen bag of fries. The fries shatter, making smaller fries. Smaller fries fill voids in fry cartons, which means customers get more fries. That’s bad for the fry-bottom-line.
The last tip I’ll share is not on the menu. Fries are heavily salted, of course. And that salt cakes on the inside of the fry bin. Oil and salt. If you are ever in the kitchen, simply grab a rogue fry and pull it up the bin, through that salt, and eat it. One is enough. It is the essense of fries, distilled, heavily salted, and a delicacy that’s really, really bad for you.