It’s no secret that McDonald’s fries are superior to all other fast food restaurants’ fries, but somehow, we can’t deny that the taste of those fries in our fond, childhood memories were somehow better than they are now.
So why did those perfectly golden fries taste so much better when we were kids? Is it because our parents would only buy them for us on special occasions? Or maybe it’s just a case of rosy retrospection?
Au contraire, it may not just be your nostalgia making you feel that way. It turns out that there’s a legitimate reason as to why the taste of McDonald’s fries have changed over the years.
According to Business Insider, author and journalist Malcolm Gladwell says the reason behind the taste change is because McDonald’s changed their recipe in 1992 due to pressures from health campaigners.
“They went from frying them in beef tallow to frying them in some combination of vegetable oil,” said Gladwell on an episode of the podcast Revisionist History. “And as you dig into this, what you realize 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.”
The early 90s was a time when consumers were trying to avoid saturated fats like the plague and businesses were trying to reinvent their menus with “healthier” options, like fries that were fried in vegetable oil to make them vegetarian-friendly. I mean, vegetable oil has the word “vegetable” in it so it has to be healthy, right? Wrong.
“It turns out to be false that vegetable oil is healthier for you than beef tallow,” Gladwell said. “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.”
But Gladwell is a merciful man and there’s only one way that McDonald’s can right their wrongs.
“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.”
Will McDonald’s have the balls to change their recipe? Will they even have the balls to respond to Gladwell? We’ll be sitting here patiently waiting.