Thirty pounds, all of them deep-fried and salty. That’s how much the average American scarfs down in French fries each year. From crinkle-cut to shoestring, waffle-shaped to wedge, the range of choices is right up there with the variations on burgers at popular fast-food chains. We visited 10 chains and here’s how the fries stack up.
10. White Castle
These crinkle-cuts are the least satisfying of the bunch, so light they're near-white, unnaturally stiff and hot enough to burn the roof of your mouth. A medium portion of 260 grams is 600 calories and costs $2.19. On the up side, should a craving overtake you in the middle of the night, White Castle is open 24 hours.
These look like French fries with a spray tan, an unnaturally orange color, a "secret seasoning" that tastes like paprika, dry mustard, salt and black pepper. The greasiest candidate oddly delivers more crunch than soft interior. A 120 gram serving is 420 calories and costs $2.49.
The selling point of these fries is that spice is nice. But one can't miss the excessively processed flavor. With just two portion sizes, there's a push to go big. The 85 gram portion delivers 260 calories for $1.79, while the large clocks in at 255 grams at 770 calories for $3.99. Fun fact: An ingredient that increases the addiction factor is MSG.
For those who are into mashed potato flavor and texture, the wedge is the one. A 102 gram portion delivers 290 calories and costs $1.99. Take note: They're not available at KFC stores co-branded with Long John Silver's.
A visit to Sonic means you'll always eat these fries in the car, off your lap, often alone. Those factors aside, the natural-cut fries are neither skinny nor fat. Add a generous sprinkling of salt and these fries make mid-pack on our list. A 119 gram portion is 380 calories and costs $1.99.
A wider fry than many competitors, Wendy's delivers on flavor and texture; natural sea salt helps. Renegades swear they're best dipped in a Frosty. A 142 gram portion is 420 calories and costs $1.99.
The fries lost luster when the company switched to a vegetable oil blend for frying. It doesn't help that there's a company-sanctioned YouTube video rationalizing the 19 ingredients in an order. That they're skinny-cut salt sticks keep them in the running, along with an ingredient called "natural beef flavor" that adds a savory taste. The medium-sized, 117 gram serving delivers 340 calories and costs $2.38.
3. Burger King
Gold, crisp and flavorful, these fries taste better than McDonald's fries. Here's another reason to defect: you get more for less. The medium-sized 153 gram serving delivers 410 calories for $2.19.
This surprise hit is near the top of the pile. A carton delivers fries with a perfect contrast of golden brown exterior and a pillowy inside. A 213 gram portion delivers 510 calories for $2.99.
1. Five Guys
French fries spill from a tall cup of the best-tasting fries around. What makes them so great is that they're hand-cut and they contain a mere three ingredients: potatoes, peanut oil and sea salt. You'll get your fill with the 411 gram portion for $3.79 and 953 calories.