MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — Move over burger wars. It’s now time for French fries to face off as Miami-based Burger King launches its new low-calorie French fries Tuesday.
The fast food chain says it’s “Satisfries” have about 30-percent less fat and 20-percent fewer calories than its regular fries.
Burger King also says the crinkle-cut french fries have 40-percent less fat than market leader McDonald’s and 30-percent fewer calories.
Burger King says a small order of the new “Satisfries” is 270 calories because the new batter doesn’t absorb as much oil. Regular fries are 340 calories.
The low-cal, low-fat fries will cost about 20 to 30 cents more per serving, except in kids meals, where there will be no price difference
Burger King executives say people won’t be able to tell that Satisfries are lower in calories. It says they use exactly the same ingredients as its regular fries — potatoes, oil and batter. To keep kitchen operations simple, they’re even made in the same fryers and cooked for the same amount of time as regular fries.
The difference, Burger King says, is that it adjusts the proportions of different ingredients for the batter to block out more oil. The company declined to be more specific. Another difference, the crinkle-cut shape, is in part so workers will be able to easily distinguish them from the regular fries when they’re deep frying them together.
“You need to make things as simple as possible,” says Eric Hirschhorn, Burger King’s chief marketing officer.
As per capita consumption of french fries has declined over the years, frozen potato suppliers have been working on ways to reduce fat and calories in french fries, said Maureen Storey, president and CEO of the Alliance for Potato Research & Education, an industry group.
“It’s actually not an easy thing to do to because consumers want the same taste and the same texture,” she said.
Alex Macedo, head of North American operations at Burger King, said the chain worked with one of its potato suppliers, McCain Foods, to develop the lower-calorie fries. He said McCain can’t sell the fries to other fast-food clients and that different suppliers might have a tough time imitating them.
Burger King took great pains keep the launch of Satisfries under wraps. Last week, reporters were invited to preview a “top secret new product” at a New York City hotel, where they were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements. Attendees were each served a carton of the fries on a plate that looked and tasted like any other fries, even leaving the familiar grease stains in their paper cartons.
Burger King led off its presentation by comparing the fries to the “leading french fries,” which are made by rival McDonald’s. On a pound-for-pound basis, executives noted that the new fries have 30 percent fewer calories than those served at the Golden Arches.
The comparison to McDonald’s may prove to be confusing for some, since fast-food chains each have their own definitions of what qualifies as a small, medium or large.
A small serving at McDonald’s, for example, weighs considerably less than a small order at Burger King. As a result, a small order of McDonald’s fries has 230 calories — which is still less than the 270 calories for a small serving of Burger King’s Satisfries. A “value” order of Satisfries at Burger King — which is closer in weight to the small size at McDonald’s — has 190 calories.
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