The Gastronomic Purpose Of Crinkle Cut Fries

"Do you want fries with that?" Statistically speaking, your answer is probably, "Yes." According to the South Florida Reporter, as of 2020, the average U.S. consumer puts away an estimated 30 pounds of fries every single year. A paper bag full of fries conjures images of the Coney Island boardwalk during summertime or a late-night fast food run with friends after a high school football game. This is to say, it's hard to have a bad time when you're munching on them. 

There is, however, one defining feature of fries that divides even the most diehard fry fans: shape. When you think of fries, do you think of waffle fries? Curly? Shoestring? Steak fries? How about those potato-patty smiley fries from your childhood that never seemed to crisp up in the middle? Today, we're talking about one particular fry shape — the crinkle cut.

Celebrity chef Duff Goldman took to Twitter to express his affinity for crinkle cut fries in an ode that paints a scene of crinkle cut fries "served in a red plastic bucket on a sheet of wax paper with ketchup that comes out of a red squeeze bottle and a grape soda from the pool snack bar." We're definitely on board. Believe it or not, there's a scientific reason behind their appeal, and the crinkle cut profile is no small reason why. 

Crinkles are a vehicle for crunch and sauce

If you like your fries crispy, crinkle cut might be just the fry to suit your taste. According to The Frozen Biscuit, the crinkle-cut shape gives fries more surface area, increasing the amount of crispiness the outside of the fry can have per bite. It also creates more places for salt and dipping sauces to adhere.

When Shake Shack first opened in 2004, said culinary director Mark Rosati to Food Republic, the now-legendary fast food chain experimented with various fry shapes, including shoestring, waffle, and thick-cut. But fans were not happy when Shake Shack 86'd its iconic crinkle-cut fries in 2013. Livid hordes of incensed crinkle cut fans grabbed the issue by the shirt collars, taking to various social media platforms. There were petitions; fry sales plummeted. Why? 

According to Rosati, the crinkle cut's unique shape keeps it crunchier for longer, staving off sogginess. Those rigid nooks provide heightened scooping ability for ketchup, in the same way, that Tostitos scoops tortilla chips work with queso. Crinkle-cut fries have since made a triumphant return to Shake Shack's menu and to the menus of other fast food giants like Arby's, Del Taco, and Raising Cane's chicken. (It's that big of a deal.)