French fries. They’re warm, salty, and tasty. They’re crisp and fluffy at the same time. They go well with almost everything. They can be eaten anytime and anywhere. No wonder everyone loves French fries.
These golden treasures debuted in cookbooks in the early 1850s. They were called French Fried Potatoes then. Would you like to know how they came to be cooked “the French way”? Read on to find out.
The Long History of French Fries
Belgian lore claims that the villagers of Meuse Valley were the first people to have cooked French fries. These poor villagers often deep-fried small fish caught from the river. It was impossible to catch fish when the river froze over during the winter months though. So, they would slice potatoes and deep fry them the same way they cooked their fish.
Why, pray tell, were the French credited for these fried potato strips? Well, it’s believed that the American soldiers stationed in Belgium during the first World War gave these fried potatoes the moniker “French fries” because the Belgian army spoke French. Others credit the name to Thomas Jefferson who asked his chef to serve potatoes in the French manner (deep fried while raw, in small cuttings) for a dinner party.
Frankly, no one cares much whether these addictive fries came from the Belgians or the French. All we care about is snacking on them whenever we can.
Undisputedly one of the most loved food across the globe, Americans have this versatile side dish with their burgers, fried chicken, barbecue, and steaks. Belgians eat them with mussels or fish or with a fried egg on top. Middle easterners place them in pita bread along with other fillings.
Comparison of Fast Food French Fries
While French fries are among the world’s most favorite food, they are known to be notoriously high in caloric and fat content. If you get yours from fast food joints, they most likely will be high in sodium too.
According to Encyclopedia.com, about 67% of fries are bought at fast food restaurants. This high statistic isn’t at all surprising. We’ve all had the urge to grab an order of this comfort food. You may not be able to completely avoid getting your fries-fix the fast way but you can be aware of just exactly what goes in your body when you give in to your cravings.
Here, we break down the nutritional content of French fries from four of the most popular fast food chains in the world.
1 small serving (71 g)
Nutritional values: Calories 230 kcal, Total Fat 11 g, Total Carbs 29 g, Sodium 160 mg, Dietary Fiber 3 g
McDonald’s uses Russet Burbank, Shepody, and other such premium potatoes. They fry the potatoes in vegetable oil twice — once to cook the inside and again to make it crisp and golden.
1 value serving (89 g)
Nutritional values: Calories 220 kcal, Total Fat 9 g, Total Carbs 34 g, Sodium 210 mg, Dietary Fiber 3 g
Burger King’s fries are thick cut. Similar to McDonald’s, they’re fried twice to give them that golden color on the outside while staying fluffy on the inside.
1 small serving (113 g)
Nutritional values: Calories 320 kcal, Total Fat 15 g, Total Carbs 43 g, Sodium 320 mg, Dietary Fiber 4 g
Wendy’s uses natural-cut Russet potatoes. They are fried skin-on in vegetable oil and seasoned with sea salt.
1 serving (125 g)
Nutritional values: Calories 370 kcal, Total Fat 15 g, Total Carbs 52 g, Sodium 250 mg, Dietary Fiber 6 g
In-N-Out deep-fries fresh hand-cut Kennebec potatoes in 100% pure cholesterol-free sunflower oil. They peel and dice their potatoes on site every day.
To give you a better comparison of the nutrition content of these fries, we gathered data from the USDA FoodData Central and their individual websites. Below are four charts that compare the lipid, fiber, sodium, and caloric contents for every 100 g serving of French fries. To view the rest of the data, click on the following links: McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, In-N-Out.
If Burger King wasn’t that high in sodium content, I’d say that it was the healthiest choice among the four. Perhaps, you can request for less salt (or none at all) when you order from them?
Of course, you can’t order exactly just 100 g of French fries. You can’t possibly weigh your fries as well every time you eat. So, here’s a more convenient comparison of how many calories you get from each serving of fries. Take note that the servings vary from 71 to 125 g.
For a more comprehensive comparison of these popular fries, check out Calorie-Charts.info’s latest feature that enables you to compare the nutritional values of different food. The interactive comparison tool is complete with colorful charts and graphs that can make choosing the healthiest food fast and easy.
Caloric Content of Home-cooked Fries
Obviously, French fries from your favorite fast food joint aren’t the healthiest choice. Just one small serving already rakes in 200 to 300 calories. We haven’t even taken the high sodium content into account.
However, you can still enjoy these calorie-laden delights guilt-free. Instead of buying them from fast food chains, cook them yourself at home. Whether you choose to deep-fry them or bake them, they’ll still have much less calorie and fat content than their fast food counterparts.
Check this chart out for the differences in calories depending on how you cook your potatoes:
- fresh potatoes, deep fried in vegetable oil
- fresh potatoes baked in an oven
- frozen French fries, deep fried in vegetable oil
- frozen French fries, baked in an oven
Unquestionably, baking your French fries is way healthier than frying them in oil. If you’d argue that it won’t be “fries” anymore if they’re baked, you can always use an air fryer instead. That way, you’d get your “fries” with much less calories.
Indulge in Crisp Heaven
French fries are definitely one of our most satisfying guilty pleasures. The world just won’t be the same without these golden crispy wonders. However, potatoes don’t have a monopoly on delicious crispiness. You can substitute parsnips, turnips, carrots, and rutabagas which have very similar textures to potatoes. They’re great for those looking for healthier options.
Still, there’s no harm indulging on your favorite fries once in a while. Just don’t forget to get some quick exercises to burn the excess calories.