It’s been a little over a year since Shake Shack announced that they’d be phasing out their long-time favorite side, crinkle-cut fries, and replacing them with fresh hand-cut ones. The reaction was incredibly mixed; some were furious that their beloved crinkle-cuts were being taken away, others were excited at the prospect of enjoying their Smoke Shack with fries that didn’t come frozen from a bag.
Love them or hate them, the chain announced late last week that they’d made a mistake and would be bringing back the crinkle-cuts once and for all. Shake Shack told The Daily Meal that locations in Winter Park, Fla., Tyson’s Corner in Virginia, and across from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn have already switched back, and the rest will be serving the crinkle-cuts again by the end of the year. Furthermore, for the first time, these fries will also be free of artificial ingredients.
So what was the reason behind the change? We reached out to Shake Shack, and they made it quite clear.
“Ultimately, hand-cut fries introduced inconsistency,” Zach Koff, Shake Shack’s VP of Operations, told us. “Many guests have told us that they still love the crinkle cut fry, and the crinkle is something that most people strongly associate with Shake Shack. We do too, and we care most about making our guests happy, enjoying the experience at Shake Shack, and serving the best fry around.”
Any chain operator will tell you that inconsistency is the one thing they try to avoid the most, and CEO Randy Garutti put it in more philosophical terms in the note on the website: "We didn't fully appreciate the simple, tactile pleasure and the emotional attachment our fans have to the crispiness, the ridges and pure joy that these fries bring to guests of all ages," he wrote.
Our guess is that the switch has very little to do with customer preference and more to do with Shake Shack’s bottom line. It takes a whole lot of work to train all staff members in how to hand-cut, soak, and double-fry potatoes, and each potato has a different starch content and fries differently, hence the “inconsistencies.” When all the fries come from a central location and can be cooked by simply dumping a bag into a deep-fryer, it’s not only easier, it’s most likely less expensive, too.
Whatever the true reasons behind the change, we’re thrilled. The new fries were consistently soggy and bland, and the originals were crispy, crunchy, and nothing short of perfect for a crinkle-cut.
If you’re still unhappy with the crinkle-cuts, we have one piece of advice for you: dunk them in the cheese sauce. It’s all good.