Fast food giant is looking to school its rivals with new “college potato” fries.

To succeed in the Japanese fast food industry, you’ve got to continually present people with new reasons to come through your doors. Just rolling out new main dishes isn’t enough, either. If you really want to stay ahead of your competitors, you need to regularly shake up your side order menu too.

In pursuit of such innovation, we’ve seen McDonald’s Japan offer French fries with chocolate and pumpkin sauces. Now, the chain is getting ready to start selling a brand-new French fry creation, although it’s one that draws inspiration from Japanese comfort food.

Going on sale next week are McDonald’s Japan’s daigaku imo French fries. Daigaku imo, literally meaning “college potato,” is a popular sweet potato snack with a sweet sauce, and allegedly gets its unusual name from being a hit with cash-strapped students looking for a cheap yet tasty way to quell their hunger between regular meals.

Since America’s sweet potato fry boom is yet to make its way across the Pacific to Japan, McDonald’s daigaku imo fries will still be made with orthodox potatoes. They will, however, come with a thick honey sesame sauce, fortified with black sesame seeds, that you drizzle on the fries before eating.


▼ “Japanese-style French fries, daigaku imo flavor” announces the packaging seen in this promotional image.


Combining sweet and salty flavors, the odds of the daigaku imo fries being anything other than delicious are incredibly low. They’ll become part of the menu on February 15, though as with many such unique items, will only be around for a limited time. A la carte, they’ll cost 330 yen (US$2.85), a bit more than ordinary fries, but not so expensive that college kids won’t be able to afford some even after buying their textbooks for next semester.

Images: McDonalds Japan press release (edited by RocketNews24)
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he still remembers eating daigaku imo for the first time when he was a college student in Tokyo.

[ Read in Japanese ]