I doubt anyone has ever had “just a few” fries, especially if those fries came from McDonald’s. Somehow that red cardboard box is always empty after a visit to the fast food chain. McDonald’s fries seem to be in a category all on their own. No one else has quite managed to emulate the perfect thin-cut, slightly crispy fry with just the right amount of salt like they have. But did you know they used to taste totally different?
Back in 1990, McDonald’s had to change the way they made their famous fries. In fact, they used to taste way better! Those of us born prior to that date will never know the deliciousness of the original recipe. Twenty-seven years ago, McDonald’s started using vegetable oil to cook their french fries. Prior to that date they used beef tallow, which is a rendered form of beef fat, and happens to be super tasty.
Malcolm Gladwell dedicated an entire episode of his podcast, Revisionist History, to the historical fast food moment. He reveals that the switch was made all because of one man named Phil Sokolov. Sokolov was an American businessman who suffered a heart attack in 1966 at the age of 43. He had been a big fan of McDonald’s fries, but blamed the beef tallow they were cooked in for causing his poor health.
He poured millions of dollars into advertisements that claimed McDonald’s fries were killing Americans. He dedicated his life to raising awareness of high cholesterol diets and even founded the National Heart Savers Association in 1985.
Beef tallow was scraped and vegetable oil was brought in, but Gladwell claims that the veggie oil is no better for your health. In fact, it’s probably worse! Gladwell said in his podcast:
“It turns out to be false that vegetable oil is healthier for you 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 is most likely right. After all, if beef tallow were to blame for the rise in high cholesterol and heart disease in America, surely the trend would have tapered off after 1990. Nope! The epidemic is worse than ever. Deep fried potato sticks are going to be bad for your health no matter what, but allegedly cooking them in vegetable oil actually makes them a little bit worse. Plus, they don’t taste quite as good either.
Regardless of whether or not you’ve tried the original recipe, McDonald’s fries are still one of their top selling items. The change to vegetable oil doesn’t seem to have turned anyone off. Plus, I’m sure vegetarians are quite happy about the switch! Anyone else craving some McDonald’s right about now? But if you’re thinking you can just do what you want in a McDonald’s restaurant, think again! Here’s one customers getting the McCrap kicked out of them by no-nonsense staff! She’s definitely not loving it…