Strategy We tested french fries from McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, and Chick-fil-A to see who does it best — and the winner surprised us

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July 13 is National French Fry Day, a necessary and important day to reflect on the ubiquitous yet humble golden star of the fast food world.

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(Hollis Johnson)
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July 13 is National French Fry Day, a necessary and important day to reflect on the ubiquitous yet humble golden star of the fast food world. The perfect fry is starchy and crispy and a sturdy vehicle for our favorite vegetable: ketchup. Their acceptance in American cuisine is far-reaching: The french fry can be a gas-station grab-and-go or a gourmet delight.

Burger King, Chick-fil-A, McDonald's, and Wendy's — the fast food giants — all offer signature takes on the classic food. McDonald's fries have had the same signature taste for years, while Burger King and Wendy's have changed their recipes in recent times. And Chick-fil-A's distinct waffle variation holds a fierce cult following.

But which has truly mastered the art of the fryolator? We set out to discover who makes the best fries.

Marina Nazario contributed to this story.

Hot, salty, and steaming fresh: McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, and Chick-fil-A are ready to compete.

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First, we tried McDonald's. Salty, thin, and crispy, these classic fries have stayed consistent over the years.

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A large order of McDonald's fries costs $3.15 in Manhattan. They're crispy on the outside but have an unusually hearty center for how thin they are. Loaded with salt, these fries are absolutely addictive.

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Right away, we notice that Wendy's are the only fries that have the potato skin still on them. A large order runs for $2.60 in Manhattan.

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Wendy's fries are actually rather bland and boring. They are very thin and absorb too much oil, making them soggy. A little salt wouldn't hurt.

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Burger King's are noticeably thicker and sturdier than the competition. They almost have the texture of steak fries.

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The thick cut is a clear advantage because they hold up well: They aren't soggy or greasy. Biting into these fries provides a salty satisfaction for a $3.26 large order in Manhattan. We were surprised by how much the fries impressed us.

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Finally, the iconic waffle fries of Chick-fil-A. At first glance, these are not your average fast-food fries: The waffle cut could be a big advantage.

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But looks can be deceiving. These floppy fries are underwhelming. They lack the crunch and seasoning that we expect from such a fry. Although gorgeous in appearance, Chick-fil-A fries are somewhat bland. At $2.89 for a large order in Manhattan., it's simply potato and nothing more. Then again, I suppose that that's where Chick-fil-A's famed dipping sauces come into play.

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So who wins the great french-fry battle?

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After much debate, Burger King wins the battle with the crispiest, tastiest fries of the bunch. McDonald's came in a close second, followed by Chick-fil-A and Wendy's.

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