A Side Of Fries

Yup, Shake Shack fries are damn good. The main reason is that they travel! Very few other fries travel even a short distance, around the corner, to your car.. In N Out for instance. They’re soggy when fresh at the In N Out…they don’t even make it to the car. However, when I was a kid in Jackson Heights (I’m  older than you) the world’s best, the Champagne of french fries, the Oscar of fries was a fish market under the elevated subway tracks that made  fries, I think, only in the winter. Anyway that’s when we would get them in a brown paper bag that was so warm it warmed your hands so you could eat your fries them without gloves on (January, February in NYC). They were doused with a salt that was one step less coarse than the salt you would out to melt  the ice in winter  (Bob, you know). Of course, like a great slice of pizza, you could not wait to get one into your mouth and invariably scorched your upper palate…but they were well worth it…at least as I remember them  today.
Thanks for memories as the other Bob used to say.

Jimmy Wachtel

PS The mini burgers were thanks to the ultimate mini burger, White Castle with grilled onions, a squeeze of ketchup and a slice dill pickle…heaven for 12 cents.


Here’s the pro move:

1. Go to IN ’N’ OUT and buy a Double Double, Animal Style.

2. Then drive to the nearest Shake Shack and buy a large order of krinkle-cut fries.

3. Die happy.

Trey Callaway


Re Fries – I think in New York we are more free to fry than in Los Angeles. It’s understood by many – if not most – that the ideal combination is a Shake Shack burger with 5 Guys Fries. This is totally doable in my Brooklyn nook where they are within a couple blocks of each other.

1000% agree: Steak Fry – why??

I too grew up on frozen crinkle cuts and most restaurants – including name brand fine dining – use frozen french fries still (also frozen peas) which is why Balthazar’s frites are exceptional, made from scratch every day (great fries are labor intensive and must be cooked twice – double-blanched – as invented by the Belgians (p171 The Balthazar Cookbook.)


Barbara Barna Abel


shake shack and their fries rule. best eaten outside in Madison Square Park, but good at all other locations.

but my favorite: add malt to the cookies and cream shake! (I mean, if you like malted stuff, aka Whoppers for the heathens.)

Now  I’m hungry. Wear a Santa Hat and give out their fries: Kris Krinkle.

Thanks, Katherine Turman


“Oh, with the green light I partook. They were a bit soggy after the almost half hour drive.”

Pro tip: Throw them in your air fryer for 5 minutes next time!  THE BEST.  And I love crisper fries.


Another Bob (Mori) in Los Angeles.


I grew up in Massachusetts with clam shacks and roast beef sandwiches and none of their fries compared to McDonalds.

Pamela Harris


Krinkle Fries Rule!

I’m glad they’ve come back per your history of ’the krinkle’

From Mama’s oven in the 70’s to now Arby’s (we have the meats) & Omaha’s own Runza Hut.

McDonald’s fries are great too! And Steak Fries are awesome with a Steak. That’s why they’re called…

Curly Fries & Waffle Fries – No Thanks.

Funny Topic Bob – but I certainly relate.

Terry Anzaldo


My fun uncle Ian surprised us five Brit kids with a visit to the new McDonalds restaurant in Lakeland, Florida on a rate visit.

We’d never seen fries like that, used to the vinegar soaked newspaper wrapped soggy thick potato slices that simultaneously managed to be both horribly slimily greasy and yet with zero skin or crisp. Lard slathered on half cooked potatoes. So we did what every kid in the world would have done – we ate until we were truly sick and still didn’t get up from the jolly bright round little plinth seats even then.  And uncle Ian joked that we were only full up to ‘about here’ (indicating our belly buttons) and had more to go surely. We ordered a second round. We knew (correctly) we’d never eat like that again.

For those that experienced the magic back the nostalgia that made you believe it could happen again and the excitement upon glimpsing the Golden Arches from the road was hard to put down.



This was quite the trip down memory lane.

I remember my first trip to McDonald’s. We piled into the 1964 Pontiac Catalina Safari wagon. No seat belts. Dad, Mom and five kids. The closest McD’s was on Route 9 in Natick.

I can’t remember if they had a drive thru. We ate in the car. What I remember most was not the fries or burgers, but the spitball fight! Straws!


Thomas Quinn


All fries are good, Bob! Krinkle fries are really good. Reminds me of being a kid and eating frozen fries.


Jim Lewi


Oh Bob. Crinkle-cut fries are THE BEST kind of fry. 🙂

Sarah Martin


Tater tots
Waffle fries
Krinkle cut
Steak fries
Regular fries
Shoe string fries
In-N-Out fries

Those are ranked from best to worst. Anyone who disagrees is mistaken.  You are correct that well done is an important aspect.

Jason Bernstein

P.S. bonus fries at the bottom of the bag top all of the above.


The best Krinkly fries are at Langers.  Always cooked to perfection, though it’s hard to choose those over their home fries.

If you haven’t indulged already, Taco Bell’s nacho fries, which are available now and are not a permanent fixture on their menu, are crazy good.  Yes, Taco Bell.  Good luck only having one portion.

Richard Young


Steak & Brews – all the salad & bread you could eat and all the wine & beer you could drink. They didn’t last long.

Richard King


Aloha Bob,


Today’s email had me thinking about all the fries I’ve eaten over the decades. When I was a kid, McDonald’s had the best. I’ve told this story to my adult children more times than they want to hear it. Let me tell you about the family:


My father’s side – My father refused to eat McDonald’s hamburgers because one time his burger had cheese on it (verboten). He never ate meat and dairy at the same meal. Since the cheese had touched the meat, he had to throw the whole burger away.

My mother’s side – My mother loved McDonald’s French fries not just because they were extra salty. They were thin, but not too thin and had their own unique taste. Delicious.


“Have it Your Way” was Burger King’s slogan, so we started going to BK as soon as they opened up in our suburban neighborhood in Cleveland. Not frequently, but often enough that I knew the drill when my mother announced she wanted some fries. In the early 70’s, neither place had a drive thru. You parked and walked inside to order. While our mother waited in the car, my brother and I were assigned the task to go into BK to order the burgers – specifically without cheese. Then we walked over to the Golden Arches to pick up the fries. We hopped in the car and drove home immediately with the food. I can still hear my mother saying,  “Let’s get home before the fries get cold.”


Now I live on Oahu. When I walk by Burger King and McDonald’s in Waikiki, I cannot imagine ever going inside to buy food. In fact, I feel kind of nauseous from the smell that lingers around the sidewalk. Yet the memory of the BK – Mickey D run is so powerful. I have to smile.

Deb Seibert

The Contractor


Born in VT in 1950 we had 19 cent burgers just south of Burlington I think at “the Lure” circa 1968 and an early McDonalds in Mass  at that price was an event!

Point #2 I recall cutting my mouse cap ears from Disney to look more like the show!

Jim Eaton


NATHAN’S!  Not the frozen supermarket bag, but rather the ones you get at the local Nathan’s concession, or better still at the original Coney Island spot.  Something in the mixture they fry them in.  Nothing else comes close.   Paul Lanning


Nathan’s fries ! Nothing beats ‘em and they must be ingested AT Nathan’s Coney Island!

Bob Kranes


I’ve never been a big fry guy, but as a Northeasterner, Nathan’s, the hot dog folks from Brooklyn, have always made crinkle-cut fries that knocked me out.  There used to be a Nathan’s on Pico, and one on Post Road in Norwalk, CT, but those are both long gone.  I’ve only seen Nathan’s in the food court at the MGM Grand in Vegas.  If you get a chance, try their fries.  I think that you’ll be happy you did.


Michael Rexford


One cannot discuss fries without mentioning Nathan’s.  Nathan’s has been in Coney Island since 1916. Their hotdogs, hamburgers and fries have been a Brooklyn staple forever. Cooked in oil, that seemingly is never changed, served hot, well done and in a cone cup.  There is not a French fry better than Nathan’s krinkle cut.



Best French fries I ever had was at Nathan’s in coney island. We went there all through my youth in Brooklyn. Served in a paper cone. My Dad always said they were the best fries because he figured they hadn’t changed the oil they fried them in since the place opened. Throughout the fifties and early sixties they would have fireworks every Tuesday night on the boardwalk. Another thing you would get at the beach were hot knishes. Doesn’t make that much sense, but I guess the salt and fat tasted good in the hot weather. Hot dogs were everywhere in Brooklyn cause where I group up there was a kosher deli every 5 blocks. And a hot dog and a pizza were always priced the same. Someone even did the math once and found a correlation between the price of pizza and a subway token.

Jeff Rosen


The hand cut, twice fried fries at HiHo Cheeseburger in Santa Monica are delicious!

Karyn Ulman


Im with you on Krinkly fries but…Hattie B’s hot chicken in Nashville (and now others) have krinkly fries that are so good they defy logic. I stopped eating meat 5/6 years ago but ill still go just to get the fries..You have to try them..

Joe Greenwald


McDonald’s…hamburger, fries and a soda and change back from your one dollar bill.

Matthew Grandi


Fries are a matter of personal taste, just like music.  I won’t judge you for having a taste in fries which is anathema to mine.  There’s room for all kinds of preferences.  I like great musicians, great songwriters, tight bands and have gravitated to the best for fifty years.


I like thick fries (Wendy’s are better than McDonalds), Shake Shack fries are okay by me.  Krinkly fries are a gimmick, although Chik-Fil-A fries are pretty good.  Thin or matchstick fries do not have enough taste.


And if you get around to burgers another day, the thicker the better.  The problem with hamburger joints is that we don’t trust them enough to serve our burgers medium rare, which is the way they should be served, the way you can grill them at home.


Best regards, Bahnson Stanley


I never liked Crinkly fries. I don’t even know why. You are 3 years older than me but we still have a fair amount in common.
I bought The Twist by Chubby Checker the first time it came out, and I was a big fan of Etta James at that age for some reason.
We had Dairy Queen, A&W as well. Loved A&W Root Beer.
Corn dogs were a big deal when I was a kid in Grand Forks North Dakota too.
Thanks for sharing.
Bill live from MN.


I hate to admit it, but I do agree with you about McDonald’s having great fries, even though I haven’t been there in decades. Best fries though? The ones in the south of France that come with moules frites. Still hot and even a bit crispy after soaking in the garlicky mussel sauce – that’s fry ecstasy, especially when eaten on an outdoor communal table smashed in next to some smoking Europeans.

Second place? Could be the skin-on peanut oil fries that are served at the Atlantic beaches. Vinegar on top, not ketchup! The famous brand here in Maryland is Thrasher’s. Best to stay away though!

Rich Madow


I still think McDonalds has the best fast food fries. I remember my first fries from Macs when I was 8 years old in 1963 in Atlanta. Awesome

Randy Schaaf


Well.  At our local swimming lake in North Bennington, I always bought a 10¢ fudgsicle.  But we did have burgers, not hot dogs.  There was an old-fashioned A&W with burgers and great root beer.  And Paul’s Fish Fry (I hate fish, so I would get their burger), with GREAT thick shakes.  After moving to NYC, it was all pizzerias by the slice on every other block (pretty  much all gone now) for 20¢, or a Sabrett hot dog from the street vendor’s cart.  No more burgers, really.  Driving back from an anti-war demonstration in DC with my mother, 2 friends, and one’s mother, we spied a McDonalds and since NONE of us had every had one, we stopped.  The burger was so-so, but the fries!  Wow!  A revelation.  Over the years people have said that they put sugar in the mix when deep-frying them, and that’s the difference. I don’t really care. I don’t eat them anymore, but that day was memorable.  And then a coupla years later, the (I think) first-ever McDonald’s opened near me, on 92nd and Broadway, and my cousin Tony Pinck and I walked there, stopping to collect Lenny Kaye, who lived along the way, and we went to the opening day. Because, it was there.  I’d still rather have a NY slice though.  Five Guys is pretty good, and, yes, their fries are excellent. I was disappointed in Shake Shack the two times a tried it. Not sure what’s so special.  And now everyone’s talking about Smashburger, not sure why.  Oh, and, Bob, I’ve never though krinkly fries were special, but I do like big thick steak fries from time to time.  But I’d much rather have a baked potato with BBQ sauce as the only topping.

Toby Mamis


I agree with you — today’s crinkle fries are too thick.

When I was a kid, there was a restaurant here in my town that had thinner krinkle fries, maybe 1/4″ thick or possibly a bit thicker, but definitely thicker than you can find today.  They were perfect.  You can’t find them anymore, believe me I’ve looked. Even the frozen ones in the supermarket are too thick.  Hard to believe that 1/8″ of potato can make that much difference but it does.

To me the biggest casualty of restaurant food these days is the hamburger.  YOU CAN’T GET A GOOD ONE ANYMORE.

Which sounds like an odd thing to say, considering there are more hamburger options anymore than there have ever been.  But they have all lost sight of what makes a hamburger great.

All you need for a hamburger is a bun and a patty.  But restaurants are so intent on charging $15 or so for a hamburger, that they want to load it up with toppings, fancy buns, sauces and other crap that isn’t necessary.

And the patties are invariably too big.  A half pound is TOO MUCH.  A quarter pound is not enough.  A third pound is perfect, but hardly anyone does that.  And they squeeze the patties so hard to flatten them that they eliminate all the air space, which eliminates all the juices.  And then they freeze them to complete the ruination of them.

And the bun should be toasted.  Too many places brag about all their toppings and handcrafted pretzel/brioche/whatever buns but then they don’t toast the buns!

In general, “comfort food” is becoming a thing of the past, which is sad.  Go try to find a plate of fried chicken or roast beef or just  a plain ol’ steak.  It’s nearly impossible, everything is fancied up and loaded with extras, all in the name of charging more money.

There’s a restaurant in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho called Hudson’s Hamburgers.  It’s been in the same location for about 100 years. There is only one thing on the menu:  Hamburgers.  They make the patty right there in plain sight, out of a pile of ground beef on the counter.  The burgers come hot off the grill, with a patty and a white-bread bun, and optional cheese.  The rest is up to you. AND THEY HAVE A LINE OUT THE DOOR ALL DAY LONG.  Why don’t other restaurants figure out that food doesn’t need to be fancy or “ethnic” to be good?

Mike Blakesley


Glad you told me Bob till I started remembering those horrible straws with the felt thing about 3/4 of the way up that was soaked in some kind of chocolate or strawberry concoction that made white milk into another flavor, which was truly horrible even before we knew better. But then it made me recall a time at Jones Beach when Victor Daddario and I stuck our skinny arms up the soda machines, the ones that the cup came down with the ice, the seltzer, and the flavored Coke syrup and we would pull some of the cups out and so when someone put a dime in to get their soda everything would come down except the cup and we would fall on our faces laughing at them using their palms as a substitute cup — great shenanigans for a 10-year-old. Hey, did you ever read “formerly cool” my book that I sent you? Try one chapter.



The Jennings Beach concession stand in Fairfield sells frozen Charleston Chews. It’s the only time I ever have one. The outside slightly melty in the summer sun yet frozen and snappy on the inside. Can’t beat it! I’ll treat you next summer!

Mat O.


In-N-Out Please!

Jim Crawford


You need to try waffle fries at chick Fil A. The best

Tim Madigan


The ONLY way to eat Shake Shack fries is with the cheese sauce!

Try it next time!



Always, always, always order your fries well done!  Jeez.  They should be crispy brown!

Greg Prestopino


I ate this one up, Bob.

Rob Getzschmam

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