Can we please make performing experiments with potatoes an Olympic sport? I’d watch that all day.

While doing an experiment recently that involved mixing French fries (usually known as “fried potatoes” in Japan) from different chains together to create the ultimate fried potato mash-up, our Japanese-language reporter Ahiruneko was suddenly struck by another bolt of inspiration. What if he were to calculate the cost performances of all of these fries and share them with the people so that they would know at which chains they’re getting the biggest deal for their yen?

It wasn’t complicated to put this idea into practice, so he went about gathering fries from eight popular chains. In order to standardize the sizes to the extent possible, he ordered medium sizes for all except for Mos Burger and KFC, whose large sizes were more appropriate here.

Here are the fast food contenders at a glance:
● McDonald’s
● Lotteria
● Burger King
● Mos Burger
● First Kitchen
● Freshness Burger
● Dom Dom Hamburger

▼ We have much respect for Ahiruneko for not simply devouring his study subjects along the way.

However, he also decided to throw in a wildcard in the form of Subway’s uniquely shaped “korokoro potatoes original” (medium size). His heavenly lineup was now complete.

The rules were simple. He would place the fries on a plate by themselves and weigh them in grams. He would then calculate the unit cost per gram based on the total price of the fries. Whichever brand came out with the lowest unit cost would subsequently be dubbed the Cost-Performance King of Potatoes. He asks for your understanding in that the actual volume of fries may vary slightly depending on the day and the worker who scooped them, and that this article is purely for entertainment purposes. He has no intention of submitting it to a peer-reviewed journal.

Let the Potato Games begin! (all prices are reflective of March 16, 2023)

1. McDonald’s fried potatoes: 330 yen (US$2.49) / 122 grams

2. Lotteria French fry potatoes: 285 yen / 81 grams

3. KFC potatoes: 400 yen / 156 grams

4. Burger King French fries: 300 yen / 122 grams

5. Mos Burger French fry potatoes: 400 yen / 131 grams

6. First Kitchen flavor potatoes plain (salt): 304 yen / 88 grams

7. Freshness Burger Hokkaido-grown fried potatoes: 340 yen / 90 grams

8. Dom Dom Hamburger potatoes fried: 320 yen / 93 grams

9. Subway korokoro potatoes original: 350 yen / 148 grams

After calculating the unit costs, he deduced that Freshness Burger’s unit cost per gram was the highest at 3.78 yen. This wasn’t entirely unexpected to him, though, since the chain’s Hokkaido-grown premium kogane cultivar of potatoes are truly the cream of the crop.

Conversely, the second most expensive brand by unit cost was a bit of a surprise–Lotteria, at 3.52 yen per gram. The gap between Freshness Burger and Lotteria seemed like it should be wider…!

Coming in third place were First Kitchen’s fries at 3.45 yen per gram, though Dom Dom Hamburger’s 3.44 yen per gram was virtually identical. Ahiruneko doesn’t often go to Dom Dom Hamburger, and he had the impression that they were less expensive.

For him personally, the result for McDonald’s was the most interesting since it seems like everyone makes a big fuss every time the chain announces an increase in prices. And yet, the unit cost of its fries was solidly in the middle of the pack at 2.70 yen per gram. The king of fast food chains certainly seems to excel at striking a midground balance.

Hang on to your back teeth now because we’re finally getting to the most cost-effective results. KFC’s fries came out to be 2.56 yen per gram and Mos Burger’s 2.52 yen per gram. These results raised his eyebrows a bit because he had the impression that they were relatively more expensive among fast food chains.

Burger King, known for its value, was calculated at only 2.46 yen per gram. Well done, Burger King, for living up to inexpensive expectations. You’re truly the Cost-Effective King…wait a minute, doesn’t it feel like we’re forgetting something…?

That’s right–Subway, the dark horse of these Potato Games, had a unit cost of 2.36 yen per gram, making it one whole yen cheaper than Lotteria. What in the world…! If anything, Ahiruneko had predicted that Subway would have the highest unit cost.

While he’s usually quite content with just a sandwich order there, this is very good to know for other times when he’s craving some potatoes (don’t we all at times). They may not look like typical French fries, but they’ll definitely fulfill any craving.

With that, Ahiruneko has crowned Subway as the Cost-Performance King of Potatoes. We’ll be delivering the prize in the mail shortly…if we don’t eat it first.

Just for reference, here are the results tallied for your knowledge.

Fast food chain French fries cost performance ranking (approximate)
9. Freshness Burger / 3.78 yen per gram
8. Lotteria / 3.52 yen per gram
7. First Kitchen / 3.45 yen per gram
6. Dom Dom Hamburger / 3.44 yen per gram
5. McDonald’s / 2.70 yen per gram
4. KFC / 2.56 yen per gram
3. Mos Burger / 2.52 yen per gram
2. Burger King / 2.46 yen per gram
1. Subway / 2.36 yen per gram

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