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Fry and Fry Again: The 'Truth' About Pringles Potato Chips

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Dear Urban Legends:

My mom got suckered — she was told (and believed) that Pringles potato chips are made from McDonald's unsold fries (you know, they stayed under the heat lamp, got old, and were used to make Pringles...).

I came looking at your site hoping to find a rebuttal, but no such luck. So, I thought I would submit the story for you to add/verify/deny, etc.

The only website I could find that stated the above rumor is here.

Dear Reader:

It's hard to imagine a more perfect premise for a junk food urban legend — that some of the stuff is actually just recycled fast food! Thus do we express our profound but largely self-ignored misgivings about the unwholesome crap we eat in these modern times.

It makes for great folklore, but I don't buy a word of this clever story.

According to the above website (which is largely devoted to downloadable jokes and pranks, by the way), "McDonald's carefully collects unserved french fries and places them into specially-created dehydrators. The remains are then flaked and placed into airtight containers which are then shipped to Pringles factories all over the world."

But all that special handling would cost plenty. The resulting "french fry flakes" would surely end up costing just as much as raw, unprocessed potatoes, if not more. Furthermore, extrapolating from McDonald's own nutritional information, those discarded fries consist of about 25 percent fat by weight. Extract all of the moisture from them (using one of those "specially-created dehydrators") and you'd have almost nothing left but fat! I submit that even the crafty folks at Procter & Gamble (manufacturers of Pringles) would have a tough time making edible potato chips out of the stuff.

What does McDonald's do with its stale fries? For the answer to that, look no further than the dumpster behind the McDonald's location nearest you.

Further reading:

Everything Pops with Pringles
Official Pringles website (Procter & Gamble)

Published July 9, 2001

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