McDonald's Fried Their Fries In Nutrient-Packed Beef Tallow Until 1990 When Health Organizations Were Paid To Lie About Saturated Fat

McDonald's is known today to be one of the most unhealthy fast-food chains, but this wasn't always the case. In fact, until 1990, McDonald's French fries were cooked in tallow, rendered beef fat that is highly nutritious.

By Gina Florio2 min read
mcdonalds french fries

When you're in a pinch and you need somewhere fast and easy to eat a nutritious dinner, popular fast-food chain McDonald's isn't the first place that comes to mind. The ingredients are low-quality and the food contains phthalates, chemicals that are linked to fertility issues, decline in testosterone and sperm count, etc. But McDonald's wasn't always a cesspool of fast food that produced hyper-palatable, addicting food that is linked to obesity and diabetes. In fact, until the 1990s, McDonald's was using nutrient-dense beef tallow in their food—before they switched to seed oils.

McDonald's Fried Their Fries in Nutrient-Packed Beef Tallow until 1990 When Health Organizations Were Paid to Lie about Saturated Fat

Tallow is rendered beef fat, and our ancestors used it for thousands of years for just about everything from cooking to moisturizer. It's known to contain robust amounts of vitamins E, A, D, and K, as well as anti-inflammatory properties. It's also known to prevent oxidative damage in the body. However, you'd be hard-pressed to find people who cook with beef tallow regularly because our society has been taught that vegetable oil is much healthier than animal fats (this turned out to be patently false).

McDonald's used to actually fry their French fries in beef tallow up until 1990. McDonald's founder Ray Kroc wanted the chain's French fry to be simple: just fry it in beef tallow. This was a trick he learned from Sam's, his favorite Chicago hot dog stand. They also fried their fries in animal fat and it produced a crispy, delicious, mouthwatering result. But this didn't last long. In Kroc's memoir Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonald's, he wrote, ""The McDonald's French fry was in an entirely different league. The French fry would become almost sacrosanct for me, its preparation a ritual to be followed religiously." But that all changed in 1990.

Phil Sokolof had a heart attack in 1966 and made it his mission to lobby against cholesterol and fat in fast food, as he was convinced that saturated fat found in animal products was the cause of heart disease. This was around the same time that junk-food corporations such as Procter & Gamble teamed up with certain experts to convince the government and public health organizations that saturated fat causes heart disease, not sugar or seed oils. Not coincidentally, Procter & Gamble was producing and selling high amounts of polyunsaturated vegetable oils and margarine, two items that had a very high profit margin.

Procter & Gamble paid off the American Heart Association to teach Americans that saturated fat—such as beef tallow, butter, and meat—was the cause of heart disease. And this became the basis for public food policy and education administered by public health organizations. This is where the low-fat, cholesterol-free myth was born, and it was peddled by health organizations that were heavily influenced by money-hungry corporations.

Sokolof eventually made a big enough stink that McDonald's listened to him and switched over to frying their fries in vegetable oil in 1990. Although they were able to peddle the (fake) narrative that their fries were more heart-healthy, customers just didn't like the taste as much anymore. McDonald's stocks fell as a reflection of people's disappointment.

Fast forward 30 years later, and the quality of McDonald's is worse than ever. And it's important to note that between the time when McDonald's switched from beef tallow to soybean oil/vegetable oil, obesity has increased rapidly around the country and even tripled in many states.

It's hard to believe it's a coincidence, especially considering all the information we're learning about how dangerous seed oils are to our health. Of course, the rise of vegetable oils didn't only take place in McDonald's. Restaurants and grocery stores all over the country started cooking with and selling seed oils at a much higher rate than ever before in the 1980s and 1990s, and shortly after we saw obesity rates skyrocket. All in all, it's safe to say that we would probably all be better off if we returned back to tallow rather than soybean oil.