USDA: A serving of French fries is 12 fries

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Last week, The New York Times discovered that French fries are not exactly a health food. (I’ll pause as you let this shocking information sink in.) The article ticks off the usual unhealthy suspects: starches, fryer oil, a topping of nacho cheese and bacon bits. But buried in this excoriation of fries’ nutritional merits came a piece of information I actually found surprising, and sort of depressing: A USDA serving of French fries is just three ounces, or 12-15 individual fries.

Have I ever eaten just 12 fries in one sitting? Maybe as a small child. Those 12-15 fries add up to 140 calories, according to the USDA; meanwhile, a large serving of McDonald’s fries clocks in at 510 calories, or just 30 calories shy of a Big Mac.


And there are some experts who tell The New York Times that even a dozen little fries is too many! Take it away, Dr. Eric Rimm, professor in the departments of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and killer of joy: “There aren’t a lot of people who are sending back three-quarters of an order of french fries. I think it would be nice if your meal came with a side salad and six french fries.”

Imagine the sight of a person eating just six fries from an order before pushing the plate away. Serial killer status, right? But apparently that’s what we’re supposed to be doing, unless we really let ourselves go and eat the full 12-15 fries. Wait—does this mean a serving of jojos is something like one jojo? Stand by.