Hear ye, hear ye. Gather ’round, as The Takeout shall issue a public proclamation. On this day, in the year 2018 Anno Domini, our fair food publication has declared the official stance on “loaded French fries”: they suck.
This is an exception to The Takeout’s cardinal rule—“do not yuck another’s yum”—but it is a necessary one. For you see, fast-food restaurants are attempting to make loaded fries A Thing, and we cannot in good conscience allow such behavior to continue unremarked upon. Jack In The Box has debuted three new loaded fries options; Arby’s launched Gyro Loaded Curly Fries in March; and McDonald’s new headquarters serves a woeful bacon-and-cheese loaded fries dish. Perhaps we humble food writers cannot stem the tide of cheese-slathered spuds, but we can make our position known.
Loaded fries are garbage. They sacrifice the best textural aspects of a French fry in favor of soggy, salty beige sauce or wall spackle masquerading as liquid cheese. (And yes, because we stubbornly need to prove our point, we shall include the beloved poutine in our argument.) One cannot lift a loaded fry and expect it to maintain structural integrity; instead, it collapses under the weight of stupid toppings that don’t flavor the fry any better than ketchup or mayo would. French fries are delicious in their straight-forward, oily starchiness—no bells and whistles needed beyond a dunk in some ketchup. Hiding a well-crisped fry beneath a torrent of goop only serves to degrade its potatoe-y deliciousness. Ask yourself this: Have you ever in your life consumed a plate of loaded fries and thought, “Well this was damned delicious?” Perhaps satiated, or more likely, felt like shit. But never does one rub his or her stomach in a circular motion after eating loaded fries and cry out: “Mmmmmmmm boy!”
Furthermore, in what context is one supposed to consume loaded fries? As a main dish, they underwhelm, not to mention one-note and one-textured. As a side dish they’re too heavy, filling you up before the main course. Standard fries are a cheeseburger’s perfect companion: the yin to its yang, the Louise to its Thelma, the Penn to its Teller. Loaded fries vie for the spotlight, complicating the careful fast-food balance of main attraction to sides. They are gaudy and superfluous.
And another thing! (Why am I out of breath?) The bulk of a serving of loaded fries—the portion of the gob toward the middle—is generally saturated with sauce. This requires one to finish them off with a fork. I’d argue that the perfect fast-food meal doesn’t involve any utensils at all. I know I’m going to forget to ask the drive-thru employee for a fork, and soon my face, hands, and steering wheel will be covered in gyro sauce. I didn’t ask for this degradation!
Lest you think these are just the deranged ramblings of a woman scarred by a subpar A&W poutine, I am speaking today for the entire staff of The Takeout. Rarely are we united so strongly in our feelings toward a dish, but on this issue, we shout in unison: Leave the chili out of it. Leave the sour cream out of it. Leave the cheese out of it. Leave the shaved meats out of it.
Leave our damn French fries alone.