‘Variety is the spice of life’ is a tired adage. Yet when you bring it literally to life, as the McDonalds in Hong Kong had, it starts to sound—and taste—fresh again.
Shake Shake Fries are seasonings you can sprinkle onto your fries. Flavours come in Three Cheese, BBQ, Sour Cream and Onion, and Garlic Butter. It can be purchased as an add-on with an order of fries. Previously available year-round, they’re now only around on a seasonal basis. To use, empty the paper packet of seasoning into your paper bag of potato-y goodness, scrunch up the top, and shake liberally.
On the surface, the concept feels like a drier, more ceremonious take on what we already do with the many dipping sauces McDonald’s already offers. The additional purchase, showy motions, and risk of tainting your entire order of fries with a flavour you might not like: you might ask why bother at all, dipping a fry into the brand’s signature Sweet n’Sour. And that’s where you would’ve missed the entire point of the product.
Shake Shake Fries aren’t here to replace condiments. In fact, far from it. They’re here to add to—no, harmonize—with the rainbow of tangy, spicy, and sweet. Garlic butter with honey mustard. Sour cream and onion with spicy buffalo. BBQ with habanero ranch. Kick it up a notch and add two seasonings to your order, even. To the drunken, antsy souls looking to tie a bow on a Saturday night, the possibilities will seem endless. Bonus? If you prefer your potato silvers crispy, here’s a way of layering flavour without dampening the experience.
Why didn’t this stroke of brilliance ever make it to this side of the Pacific? I tried Googling to find out. Much of the results concerned Shake Shack’s crinkle-fry debacle—ridges belong on chips, nowhere else—but nothing else turned up. Unlike other geography-specific menu items, there didn’t seem to be any cultural tie-in. Even Reddit had nothing, save for a single archived post that brought together only eight enthusiasts.
To be fair, North America might have enough on its plate when it comes to different schools of french fry evangelism: poutine, chili-cheese, sweet potatoes, Animal Style, disco, carne asada, purists. It doesn’t need another. But when it comes to personalization, too much is never enough. I’m grateful for this three-step flavour hack that can double as a tricep workout.