Fast Food Face-Off is a new, occasional Lifehacker feature where we compare two seemingly identical takeaway products from rival stores to determine which offers the best value. Today: McDonald's fries versus Hungry Jack's fries.
A burger from McDonald's or Hungry Jack's just isn't complete without a side of french fries -- one simply shouldn't exist without the other. But which fast food outlet produces the superior chip?
In a bid to find out, we purchased a standalone order of small fries from both franchises. While one french fry looks much like another, there are some significant differences in price, nutritional value and taste that become readily apparent in a side-by-side comparison. Let's take a look at each in turn.
McDonald's is currently selling a standalone small fries for $1 as part of its semi-permanent "Loose Change" menu. A small fries from Hungry Jack's, meanwhile, will set you back $2.50.
This really surprised us. Hungry Jack's positions itself as a cheaper alternative to McDonald's, with combo prices generally coming in a dollar or two below its rival. Its breakfast menu is also more affordable, with Egg & Bacon Muffins costing just $2. Clearly, this aggressive pricing strategy doesn't extend to french fries.
To be fair, hardly anyone purchases a small fries unless it's part of a combo, but that's no excuse for Hungry Jack's to charge through the roof. When it comes to value for money, McDonald's is the clear winner.
Unlike takeaway pizzas or breakfast muffins, there's not much variation when it comes to the appearance of fries. (Note: we're specifically referring to french fries here, rather than hot chips which do come in many shapes and sizes.)
As the below pictures testify, there's not much to distinguish a McDonald's french fry from its Hungry Jack's counterpart -- we reckon even their potato mums would have a hard time telling 'em apart.
Both offerings are roughly the same width, length and colour. If you look carefully, the Hungry Jack's chips are a bit darker and also a slightly drier looking but there's not much in it. When judged on appearance alone, we'd call this a draw.
In our experience, McDonald's tends to be pretty uniform with its fries distribution: each bag contains roughly the same amount of chips which are doled out by a metal scooping utensil.
Hungry Jack's, on the other hand, seems to have a looser policy in place; especially when it comes to takeaway orders. The brown carry bag almost always contains a bunch of stowaway chips that add up to a significantly higher total. Unfortunately, the higher asking price renders this generosity moot. Until Hungry Jack's brings its prices down, McDonald's is still better value.
|McDonald's fries (small)||1070kJ||13.7g||0.31g||245mg|
|Hungry Jack's fries (small)||999kJ||12.4g||0.4g||262mg|
As you can see, the Hungry Jack's small fries has less energy and fat than its McDonald's counterpart. However, the McDonald's fries contains fewer sugars and sodium.
The difference is pretty negligible, but if you're currently on a diet and carefully counting calories, Hungry Jack's is a (slightly) better choice.
We enlisted a handful of co-workers to taste-test both types of fries. The general consensus was that the McDonald's fries were superior due to their fluffier insides. They also had a slightly sweeter aftertaste which made for a more flavorsome chip.
The Hungry Jack's chips weren't as moist, although they seemed to have a better crunch which counter-balanced the dry texture. If we could only pick one, we'd probably plump for the McDonald's chip. To be honest, neither chip was spectacular -- your local takeaway shop is almost certain to trounce both of them.
Winner: McDonald's fries
McDonald's fries aren't nearly as tasty as they once were, but they still enjoy a slight edge over Hungry Jack's. The real reason they reign supreme is price: at a single dollar, a small fries from McDonald's is significantly cheaper than the competition.
What would you like to see in the next face-off? Share your suggestions in the comments section below.