This was a fun little project.
What they are supposed to look like
If you haven’t heard about these, The Burger King has commissioned a new healthy treat at his “restaurants” that is marketed toward kids as a better alternative to real fries.
Basically these Apple Fries are just an apple cut up into the shape of fries and put into a typical fast food fry container… so they look almost exactly like fries.
They’re like french fried training wheels for little kids that hope to grow up and gorge on real fries when their stomachs are ready for “grown up food”.
This was my mission:
- To drive through at a BK and pick up an order of “Fresh Apple Fries”.
- To obtain my own fruit from a grocery store that costs the same amount as the apple fries.
- To skin and slice up my own apple at the same time I arrive home with the Fries.
- To find out how a real apple sliced up oxidizes, compared to our fast-food fries, and document it.
- To do a taste comparison.
First off, I’m in the drive-through. I don’t usually carry cash, so I’ve got a handful of change to pay at the window. I’m holding about a dollar because I can’t imagine them costing much more than that. It turns out, they are $1.50. You’ll come to understand how expensive this is in a minute.
I then went straight to the grocery store to see what fruit I could get for $1.50. Here’s what I came up with:
How about that?
- A medium sized “Red Delicious” apple
- Two small oranges
- And FOUR BANANAS!!!
For the grand total of… $1.56. All of this fruit… for $1.56!!!! Need proof?
Well, I can’t wait to check these things out. So, let’s take a look at the unveiling!!
How lovely! A little plastic package stuffed inside a cardboard french fry container!
Should I dare open the package?
Immediately, I cut up the Red Delicious apple I got at the grocery store.
Have you noticed yet that there seems to be a big difference in the amount of apple between the two? Guess what, I weighed them both in grams:
Hmm... looks like over twice as much for the real apple.
Now, lets see how fast they each oxidize:
Click to Enlarge
It makes me feel all warm and cozy inside to see the BK apple fries stay a refreshing yellowish/green color, days after opening, while the grocery store apple turns brown like it’s supposed to.
Lucky for us, our fluorescent fast-food apple comes with a tasty caramel sauce packet to make sure that this is truly a TREAT, because we get to squeeze a dessert gel onto our fruit!
Let’s take a look at the ingredients of the Low-Fat Caramel Sauce: (in order)
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Corn syrup
- nonfat milk
- modified corn starch
- phosphates, hydrogenated oils, flavors, etc…
I tasted a small piece of the BK Apple Fry immediately after opening the package, followed by a piece of the home cut apple.
The apple fry did not taste like any apple I have ever had. It’s apple flavor was very mild, and the outside had a noticeable odor and taste of something odd. I came to find out that this was probably the Calcium Ascorbate that coats the apple slices to help preserve them. THIS is what kept the “fries” the lovely crispy greenish color the entire time. I don’t want to say it was a chemical taste, but it was noticeably unnatural.
Calcium Ascorbate is Calcium and Ascorbic Acid (also known as Vitamin C). There is nothing particularly wrong with this form of it, except check out this warning on a dietary supplement:
Ascorbic acid is the acidic form of vitamin C, and even when encapsulated can cause gastric upset or diarrhea for some people. This can often be alleviated by consuming it with meals. Start with a low dose then gradually increase.
If you have a stomach ulcer, use of an antacid, buffering agent, or a buffered form of vitamin C. Calcium carbonate and magnesium oxide are effective antacids. Unbuffered ascorbic acid in the mouth may be harmful to tooth enamel.
Sounds like something everyone would want to feed their kids even when they don’t have to. But hey, it’s Vitamin C, right? Yes. Manufactured Vitamin C. Do we know what vitamin that most fruits are rich in? You guessed it.
Comparatively, the real apple had vibrant, fresh flavors. It was sweet and tart, and crunchy and juicy, all at the same time. It won’t give you gastric upset, and it didn’t cost $1.50.
This kind of product falls under the completely unnecessary food ideas that exist only because people actually buy them.
People – actually – buy – them! Remember Uncrustables?
When parents spend three times too much for an unnatural preservative coated fruit that is served in a plastic bag, at a fast food restaurant, rather than get a real, simple apple at the grocery store, then we’re most certainly headed for a WALL-E type of future.
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