French fries should be the great American uniter. It doesn't matter if you're Musk-level rich or living paycheck to paycheck, everyone loves them with a fancy room service burger or at the drive-thru. But as is the American way, we have decided that arguing pointless positions is important, so we all must choose sides in the great fast food french fries war.
According to the latest survey of fast food lovers, the fry battle is already over: McDonald's won by a landslide. A full 50% of the people surveyed by Civic Science said that McDonald's fries were the best, making them the undisputed heavyweight fry champion of the world. No other fast food chain (Wendy's, Chick-fil-A, Burger King, Arby's, and KFC) got more than 15% of the vote in a dismal showing.
I think we can all cop to grabbing some Mickie D's fries in a drive-thru at some point in our lives, but it is a well known fact that getting them is a gamble every time. "McDonalds fries are great if they are hot," said u/RandyHoward in a Reddit thread about the french fry survey. "Friend taught me to always eat the fries first because if you wait til they cool off the quality drops substantially. And don't ever try to reheat McDonalds fries, my dog won't even eat reheated McDonalds fries."
"Most other places I'll still eat the fries when they're just warm but McD's become absolutely inedible if they're more than 5 minutes old," echoed u/TheOneTonWanton.
by u/jeremiah1142 from discussion McDonald's Is Winning the French Fry Wars by a Landslide — McDonald's is a runaway winner with 50% of the vote among adults who eat fast food.
Of course, that survey also seems to leave out some heavy-hitting fast-food giants. Why are there only six fry options to choose from? What about the seasoned fry specialists, like Taco Bell and its cult-favorite nacho fries? Why is KFC included at all now that they got rid of those amazing potato wedges?
To get my own answers, I also conducted a very scientific survey of the most fast food-opinionated people I know: my fellow Cheapism coworkers. I asked them to rain fry thoughts down upon me on Slack, and the reactions were even more mixed than the fancy, real survey.
There were some conformists who love McDonald's, of course. "I don't even like fries very much and will eat McDonald's," said Jenn Magid, a staff writer. "I'm convinced they put an addictive ingredient in them." (She's right, that not-so-secret ingredient is beef flavoring!)
Our managing editor, Danny Jensen, is also on the golden arch bandwagon. "McDonald’s fries will always have a special place in my heart from childhood. And while they’re not as delicious as they once were, if they’re hot and crisp, they’ll do the trick." There's another big caveat again — I'm beginning to sense a pattern.
by u/cubes158 from discussion McDonald's Is Winning the French Fry Wars by a Landslide — McDonald's is a runaway winner with 50% of the vote among adults who eat fast food.
"McDonald’s fries are the best but only if they’re loaded with salt," added fellow staff writer Alina Wang. And Anna Christakos, our partner manager, has much love for the old McDonald's fries. You know, the ones that were fried in beef tallow.
But not all Cheapists got sucked into the black hole of nostalgia and took other sides in the fast food fries war. Arby's and those beautiful curly fries made a strong showing. "I still maintain that Arby's has the best fast food fries — that spice mix is on point," said Erin Kuschner, editor.
Staff writer Rachel Schneider agreed. "I am not a fry fan in general, but Arby's curly fries have my heart."
Then there's the lone wolves, like staff writer Wilder Shaw, who chose Jack in the Box's fries over every other chain. "My heart belongs to Jack in the Box curlies. The crunch is spectacular. The shape is flawless for dipping. Never over or under-seasoned. Just nectar." Considering how much he writes about fast food, I wouldn't dismiss his opinion.
Gallery: French Fry Showdown: The Chain That Beats McDonald's
There were also some responses in all caps ("TACO BELL"! Thanks, Phelan Maguire), ones that came with muscle emojis so you know they mean business (In-N-Out, courtesy of Maxwell Shukuya), and also plenty of colorful language that we can't repeat here. So despite the fact that the actual, conducted-with-standards survey shows that the creepy Ronald McDonald clown has won the french fries war, there are plenty of fast food fans who are not going to let the other little guys go down without a fight.
For more fast-food news and hot takes, please sign up for our free newsletters.