Ask Calorie Ken: I'm a French Fry Pig, Part Deux

Get your French Fry fix without looking like a spud.

By , Columnist

Photo by Ken Brooks

Dear Calorie Ken,

I LOVE French fries, but they don't love me! How can I get my French fry fix without looking like a spud myself?

French Fry Pig

Previously, Calorie Ken took a magnifying glass to the father of fast food French fries, McDonald's, and reminded you that their marketing message is "feel good about our food," not, "our food is good for you." Part deux is about size, as it really does matter.

French Fries, Part Deux: Size Does Matter

We all know it's about balance, and a big part of balance is practical portion size. Calorie Ken decided to go on a quest to see if a large really is a large; Can we measure our French fries with a real ruler, or do we have to use an AOL Inches one?

A McDonald's large order of fries is 5.4 ounces and 500 calories. That information comes from Calorie King. You can find it in the Nutrition PDF on the McDonald's website, but, if you click through to the World Famous Fries  page, all you can get is the medium sized information.

ACK went to three different McDonald's in the Boston area, bought a large order of fries, and took them home and weighed them with his trusty kitchen scale. If you don't have a kitchen scale, run, don't walk, to your local kitchen supply store and buy one. Here's a fancy one at Best Buy that even has nutrition information for 1,999 foods built in.

So here's the skinny on the not-so-skinny:

McDonald's 870 Mass Ave, Boston, MA: 4.6 ounces and 410 calories. ACK knew this order was going to come up short because the fries were neatly fitted in the sleeve and didn't overflow.

McDonald's 111 Needham Street, Newton Highlands, MA:  5.8 ounces and 518 calories. Pretty close! ACK was surprised to find that this McDonald's didn't have a drive-through. It looked like one of the restaurants built in the 1980s just like the one in his home town in Tennessee, but without the drive-through.

McDonald's I-95 Rest Area just south of the Weston Tolls (6 Circumferential Highway, Newton, MA): 6.85 ounces and 607 calories. The nice young man at the drive-through window loved our dog, Tiny Dancer. Everybody loves Tiny Dancer!

Smiling Tiny.jpg

On average, a large order of fries comes out to about what is advertised. Still, 500 calories worth of French fries is a lot. A pound of fat has 3500 calories. If your body needs 2000 calories/day, and you give it an extra 500, one order of French fries a day will give you an extra pound a week.

Calorie Ken measured out 250 calories worth of French fries and made them part of a nice, healthy, balanced 630-calorie dinner of grilled chicken (5.5 oz uncooked, 4 oz cooked) and a cup of black eye peas with zesty diced tomatoes (picture above).

Pig, pretend you are Kate or Wills celebrating your 50th day of marriage. Imagine that your fries are chips, and sprinkle them with zero-calorie vinegar instead of sugar-calorie-laden ketchup. Get your French fry fix and be royally swanky at the same time!

Next time, we'll compare fast food French fries, Ore Ida crinkle cut fries, and oven-baked fries, home made with Pam.


Swanky reader, Calorie Ken wants to hear from you!  Post your comments below, and send your questions to  And, tell others!  Post on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn...everywhere, and share with your e-mail distribution lists. We hope to make Calorie Ken the Dear Abby of good health and nutrition, and we need your help.  Cheers! 

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For two years, Ken Brooks (Calorie Ken) was a volunteer in the Tufts University CALERIE Study. He is now a nutrition evangelist. Send your nutrition, weight management, general health and exercise questions to

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