Burger King Introduces A ‘Healthier’ French Fry That’s Lower In Calories And Fat

CREDIT: Burger King

The lower-calorie "Satisfries" will be crinkle cut to distinguish them from regular fries

The lower-calorie “Satisfries” will be crinkle cut to distinguish them from regular fries

CREDIT: Burger King

The next time you grab a meal at Burger King, you could order “Satisfries” with that.

The fast food chain is unveiling a new french fry recipe that it says is much healthier than the fries currently offered at McDonald’s, its main competitor. The “Satisfries” have about 40 percent less fat and 30 percent fewer calories than McDonald’s fries. According to Burger King, its new fries have about 150 calories in a serving size — defined as 70 grams — while the same amount of McDonald’s fries clocks in at 226 calories.

The lower-calorie fries won’t replace Burger King’s traditional fries altogether; instead, the “Satisfries” will simply be a second option on the menu. They’ll cost about 20 to 30 cents more than tradition fries per serving, but there will be no price difference between the two for kids’ meals. They’re crinkle-cut to differentiate them from the chain’s regular french fries.

Eric Hirschhorn, the chief marketing officer for Burger King, explained that the new fries may help nudge Americans toward healthier eating, because most people aren’t likely to stop eating fries altogether. “Behavior doesn’t change as quick as attitudes,” Mr. Hirschhorn said. “It’s easy to put things on a menu and check off the box, but the reality is that nobody buys them.”

The fast food industry has come under fire for continuing to sell high-fat, high-calorie food that helps fuel the nation’s obesity epidemic, and has faced particular pressure to stop marketing junk food to children. Fast food chains have responded by introducing “healthier” options to their menus, like salads and egg white sandwiches. But studies have found that most of those products are simply marketed as healthy choices, and aren’t actually any more nutritious.

McDonald’s in particular has had difficulty re-branding itself as a healthy choice. Although the chain has attempted to offer wraps and salads to appeal to a younger, more health-conscious audience, those products haven’t sold well. In May, McDonald’s acknowledged that its marketing campaigns aren’t convincing people to buy its salads, and went back to advertising burgers. The company has already eliminated some salads from its menu, and may get rid of more.

That’s why Burger King’s leadership is trying to take it slow. “You live in Manhattan and might be having a kale smoothie on your way to work this morning. But a lot of people don’t even know what kale is, and if they do, they don’t want to eat it,” Hirschhorn noted. “You have to give people what they want.”

Hirschhorn said that while the new fry recipe may seem like a small step, Burger King is hopeful “it will add up to something big.”

It may be an extremely small step indeed. The “Satisfries” essentially have the same ingredients as the company’s regular fries do. “Same potatoes. Same oil. Same process. The only change is a re-configuring in the amount of a few ingredients — Burger King won’t say what they are — so that less oil is absorbed by the thinner batter,” USA Today reports.

Last week, First Lady Michelle Obama called on big food corporations to make sure they’re encouraging kids to make healthier choices, and asked them to self-regulate their marketing strategies. Obama has made her “Let’s Move!” initiative to improve public health a central initiative of her time in the White House, but has tended to shy away from going after Big Food directly. The first lady has emphasized personal responsibility and fitness instead of calling for more regulation of the food industry, which has fought hard against every effort to legislate it.