Why McDonald's changed its fries recipe

November 7, 2017

Ahhh, the good old days. It seems that so many of our beloved products and foods always end up changing overtime (Cadbury Creme Eggs, we're looking at you) and most products end up becoming smaller yet more expensive. 

So how about those Macca's fries? Canadian journalist Malcolm Gladwell has revealed why McDonald's French fries don't taste as good as they once did back in the glory days, AKA the '90s.

Gladwell describes tasting his first ever French fry at the age of 13, in Revionist History, his podcast about all things overlooked and misunderstood.

Like many of us, he felt "a slice of potato, crispy on the outside yet somehow pillowy soft on the inside."

However, things changed and it's all thanks to a guy called Phil Sokolof, an American crusader whose heart attack in 1966 "turned him into a national evangelist of a low-cholesterol diet," according to The New York Times.

McDonald's changed the recipe of their French fries on July 23, 1990.

After a heart attack at 43, Mr Sokolof switched gears on nutrition. "I was a student in the greasy hamburger school of nutrition for my first 43 years," Mr. Sokolof wrote in 1991. Sokolof then spent millions over a series of years, financing ads and condemning fast food chains like Maccas for 'poisoning' America. He founded the National Heart Savers Association in 1985 and convinced McDonald's to produce a low-fat, low-cholesterol hamburger in 1991.

At the time, McDonald's was cooking its French fries in beef tallow, an animal fat. Sokolof put out a full-page ad attacking the chain, headlined "the poisoning of America", accusing Mcdonalds of selling fries loaded in fat. Maccas denied the rumours and said the allegations were reckless, misleading and intending to scare.

McDonald's were losing the 'battle' as it were, and Sokolof's work was making wolrd headlines. 

On July 23, 1990, "McDonald's gave in, they folded," Gladwell said. Then others followed. Wendy's went with corn oil. Burger King jumped ship too! 

As a result, the taste completely changed.


"They went from frying them in beef tallow to frying them in some combination of vegetable oil," Gladwell explained.

"And as you dig into this, what you realise is that that is not an inconsequential move. It's not like when you're frying an egg where it doesn't really matter what you fry it in. A fried egg is a fried egg.

"A French fry is a combination of a potato and some kind of cooking element. The thing you fry it in becomes a constituent part of the fry."

But the salt in the wound (or should we say, on the fry), was when research discovered that Vegetable oil isn't even healthier than beef tallow! 

"So not only did they destroy the French fry, they gave us something that was worse for us from a health perspective. So everything about it was a mistake.

"If they had any balls at all, they would turn around and say, 'We were wrong, and we're going back to fries the old way,'" Gladwell said.

Read the full story at news.com.au

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