- I recently taste-tested french fries from McDonald’s,Burger King, Arby’s,Dairy Queen, Five Guys, Wendy’s,Chick-fil-A, and Shake Shack to see how they compared.
- My decision to crown Shake Shack the winner was a controversial one.
- Two weeks and a barrage of hate mail later, I stand by my decision. Here’s why.
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Since then, I’ve received helpful suggestions, love letters, and hate mail because of my controversial decision to crown Shake Shack king of the fast-food fry.
Checker’s and Rally’s fans complained about its omission, which I take full responsibility for. I’m a West Coast gal, and Checker’s has never really been on my radar.
Others were offended by my choice of a crinkle-cut fry.
“I’d just never choose a crinkle fry over a non-crinkle fry,” a colleague told me.
Two weeks and a barrage of totally valid personal opinions later, I stand by my choice.
My choice of Shake Shack was an unlikely one considering that before trying Shake Shack’s fries, I had never once in my life previously enjoyed a crinkle-cut fry. For me, as perhaps for many others, crinkle-cut fries were the soggy, flavourless denizens of school cafeterias and grocery store frozen aisles. They were the fries that made me wish I had real fries when I ate them.
But everything changed when Shake Shack attacked.
The taste test was not the first time I had eaten Shake Shack’s fries, but I remember that first time. I was a nonbeliever. My mum and I were visiting Washington, DC, and we popped into Shake Shack for some burgers. We got fries to accompany said burgers, although I was put off by the crinkle cut.
My first Shake Shack fry was a revelation that converted me, and every fry since has only strengthened my faith.
Every single Shake Shack crinkle-cut fry I’ve had since the first one has delivered the same immaculate golden crisp, well-rounded flavour, and mouthmelting texture one seeks from a fry.
What about the others?
For me, the virtues of fries can be described with the metrics by which I judged my June 2 taste test: salt, crisp, flavour, and mouthfeel.
Though salt level is a matter of preference, it’s my opinion that an oversalted fry is the worst criminal in this department. McDonald’s sometimes oversalts, but its fries are always completely unsalted on the inside. That’s poor balance. Shake Shack’s fries are evenly salted throughout.
Shake Shack has the crispiest fries. Arby’s came close, but they didn’t have the same lasting power. McDonald’s also has crispy fries – sometimes, and only when they’re fresh out of the fryer. As for Five Guys, if I have to ask for my fries to be crispy, that’s an extra step that shouldn’t be there. Shake Shack’s golden shell of crisp is impenetrable even after being left out for an hour.
Flavour is also a matter of preference. Some prefer the taste of Five Guys’ hand-cut potatoes, but Shake Shack had the most well-rounded flavour with no distracting oily, artificial, or fishy undertones.
Shake Shack also has the perfect mouthfeel. Its fries are neither gritty nor undercooked. The crunchy exterior blends into the smooth exterior for a bite that goes down easier than sugar.
Sure, Shake Shack’s fries are crinkle cut. But why does that matter? Fries, like people, should not be judged by their creed or shape, but instead by the qualities they bring to the table.
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