You’re Not Imagining it, McDonald’s Fries Really Did Taste Better When You Were a Kid (and They Were Healthier Too!)

Matthew Loffhagen
McDonald's
(Photo: McDonald's)

Ever wondered why McDonald’s fries don’t taste as good as you remember?

Nostalgia is a powerful thing. In many instances, it makes you think that some things from your childhood are more fun than they really were.

As such, it would make perfect sense if McDonald’s fries were yet another element of nostalgic longing that weren’t ever quite as good as you thought.

As it turns out, though, you’re not misremembering things. You haven’t got a rose-tinted view of McDonald’s meals from years past.

McDonald’s really did change the recipe for their fries while you were growing up, and it made them taste worse.

Now, it’s important to note that this nostalgia element is only true for people who were fans of McDonald’s before 1992, when the change first occurred. If you’re too young to remember the early Nineties, then sorry, your nostalgic longing is all in your head.

It was in 1992 that, under pressure from health groups, McDonald’s stopped using beef tallow to fry their potato products, instead switching over to the decidedly less tasty vegetable oil.

McDonald's Fries in the Bag
Source: McDonald’s

The change in taste, it was decided, was a sacrifice worth making if it meant lobbyists would stop pester McDonald’s about their unhealthy cooking practices. Presumably, the bosses at McDonald’s thought that people would just ignore all the other terrible things they were doing when cooking food.

The problem is, while in 1992 everyone thought that vegetable oil was healthier than beef tallow, twenty five years of scientific development has proven that actually, the opposite is true.

Yup, McDonald’s made their fries taste worse to make them healthier, but it actually made them even more unhealthy.

By this point it’s unlikely that the restaurant will ever change back to beef tallow – as the name implies, this cooking oil isn’t exactly vegetarian-friendly (not that a lot of McDonald’s customers are averse to eating meat, but that’s beside the point).

So if you ever find yourself wistfully thinking back to the good old days of delicious McDonald’s meals with your family, you can console yourself that the reason the fries don’t taste as good anymore isn’t because you’re getting older – they’ve genuinely become less delicious over the years.

As for why you’re getting pudgier around the waist? That, unfortunately, is simple the ravages of age (although also probably McDonald’s fault).

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