McDonald's Fries

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A TikToker that reveals fast food chain "secrets" claims he knows why McDonald's french fries taste so damn good. Vegetarians, look away — it's because they cook them with beef flavoring.

"I know why McDonald's fries taste different from everybody else's fries," says @jordan_the_stallion8 in the viral TikTok video, which has over 10 million views in less than a week. "It's because McDonald's cooks their fries with beef flavoring mixed within their vegetable oil."

Shockingly, the claim is true. According to the McDonald's website, when their potato suppliers partially fry the cut potatoes, "they use an oil blend that contains beef flavoring. This ensures the great-tasting and recognizable flavor" that makes them different from all other fast food fries. Holy cow (literally)!

But why is beef flavor so important to making McDonald's fries taste like McDonald's fries? The chain used to cook its fries in beef tallow, which gave them an unmistakable flavor. It was switched out in favor of vegetable oil in 1990 as customers became more concerned with their health. 

This is all "probably bad news for vegetarians," @jordan_the_stallion8 continues in his TikTok video. He points out that "in the UK, Canada, and Australia, they cook it with regular oil, so if you're vegetarian you can eat the fries at those places." Sure enough, the fries are listed as a vegetarian item on the McDonald's UK website. 

There are two big reasons why McDonald's fries currently served in the U.S. are probably vegetarian, though. The first is a lawsuit that McDonald's lost in 2002 that was filed by vegetarians who alleged that the chain didn't disclose its ingredients, including "essence of beef," properly. The fast food giant would be pretty stupid to make the same costly mistake twice, but weirder things have happened.

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The second reason is that "natural beef flavor" often isn't derived from beef. It's kind of like how those little red, crunchy bacon bits don't actually contain any meat at all — that's why they're all labeled "imitation" or "Bac'n." According to McDonald's french fries ingredient list, natural beef flavor contains "wheat and milk derivatives." So while that's not great news for vegans, it is for vegetarians. 

Cheapism has reached out to McDonald's for comment and will update this article if and when we hear back.

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