The perfect French fry is crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. A French fry that has been delivered to your home is often the opposite: cold, soggy and limp. Lamb Weston, the US’s biggest manufacturer of those potato delicacies, wants better fast food. Its customers, like McDonald’s and Yum Brands, the owner of KFC, are increasingly teaming up with on-demand delivery services. But travel is brutal for French fries, especially when they’re squeezed next to a cold drink and a warm burger in a paper bag.
Lamb Weston started testing a longer-lasting fry two years ago. Employees on a visit to China noticed dozens of delivery scooters outside a McDonald’s. They figured the trend would go global, and wanted to be ready. Since then, delivery services in the United States have taken off, accounting for an increasing share of restaurants’ sales. McDonald’s has expanded its offerings for delivery, as have Wendy’s, Popeye’s and other fast food chains.
The company’s basic French fries will stay crunchy for about five minutes. It has recently introduced a new variety with a special batter that can keep crispy for close to an hour — even after being microwaved at home.
Lamb Weston had already developed a French fry batter that could keep fries crispy for 12 minutes. So food scientists at the company’s laboratory in Richland began tinkering with the recipe to extend a fry’s life even longer.