Can you imagine walking into a McDonald’s restaurant and not seeing fries on the menu? Probably not. French fries have been a part of McDonald’s for as long as most of us can remember. Believe it or not, though, they were not on McDonald’s menu from the beginning.
McDonald’s was founded in 1948 by the McDonald brothers, but for the first year of business, potato chips were served instead. From 1949 on, McDonald’s customers have loved the unique taste of our French Fries that is impossible to find anywhere else. From the potato to the plate, World Famous Fries are prepared in a very special way.
I had a chance to sit down with Todd Bacon, Vice President of Quality Systems, and Suresh DeCosta, Manager of Quality Systems. They both work in the U.S. Supply Chain Management department of McDonald’s. This part of the company is very important because it focuses on all aspects of bringing products from farm to plate. In this case, they specialize in helping French fries make the trip from potato to plate, ensuring high quality all along the way.
Before I started interning, I ate McDonald’s French fries solely because I personally like them. While I never put much thought into why I thought the product tasted so great, I quickly learned that the taste is directly related to the quality of the preparation process.
From the potatoes themselves, there are very specific requirements that make a potato good enough to become a McDonald’s French fry. The potatoes we use must be without very many blemishes or defects. In addition, only specific varieties of potatoes can be used and there are very particular size and shape requirements. Choosing the right potato is one of the most important steps in the process. If you do not start with the right potato, how can you make the right French fry?
Other than choosing the right potato, there are a number of safety and quality checks for French fries that must be done before they are served to a customer. No matter where I am, when I order French fries from McDonald’s, it seems like they have the same special taste. This is because McDonald’s is serious about delivering high quality product to customers. Because McDonald’s fries are such an iconic product, the company goes to great lengths to ensure consistent quality from field to restaurant.
Quality checks for French fries start right at the beginning of the process. This includes checks around seed selection, planting, and potato harvesting. Once the potatoes are received from the field, there are quality checks during the conversion process from the raw potato to the French fry. From peeling to blanching, only the right product is packaged and sent to restaurants.
Once at the restaurant, there are additional procedures in place to ensure that the perfect French fries are delivered across the counter. A perfect McDonald’s French fry has a bright, light golden brown outside with a few salt crystals visible on the surface. The inside looks like a freshly baked potato, white and fluffy. And even though you are all familiar with the signature taste of McDonald’s World Famous French Fries, there is a balanced flavor of potato, clean oil, and salt. After reading that description, you would be lying if you said you didn’t want to grab some McDonald’s French fries to celebrate National French Fry Day!