Carbs are always good, but breakfast carbs are what greatness tastes like. One of the superior carb-loaded breakfast foods out there is the hash brown. And who makes the best hash browns? McDonald’s, hands down. However, there’s a lot more to this universally loved food than meets the eye. Not only has this piece of fried potato gotten itself into some whacky situations, but there are also some little-known ways of eating it that will change life as you know it. This list will bring to light ten of the most interesting facts about McDonald’s most beloved breakfast food.
10. Not Gluten Free…
Whether you have celiac disease, or for whatever reason simply choose not to consume gluten, we have some bad news for you. McDonald’s hash browns do not fit your dietary restrictions. This is an easy mistake to make, because potatoes are in fact gluten-free. Other than that, you would expect there to just be oil and some seasonings, which would all fit the bill, but there’s one sneaky ingredient that stops this food item from being safe for those with gluten-intolerances to consume. McDonald’s chooses to add corn flour to their hash browns, which, unfortunately for anyone with celiac disease, does contain gluten. It’s probably the ingredient that gives them that delightful crispiness that we all know and love. So, it’s a bit of a trade-off. If you have a gluten intolerance, it’s important that you avoid cross-contamination, meaning that even gluten-free foods can be dangerous if they’re prepared with the same kitchen tools as food containing gluten. Hash browns don’t fit that criteria either, so even if they ceased to use corn flour, they still wouldn’t pass as gluten-free. McDonald’s is pretty transparent about this sort of thing, but if you don’t think to ask, it can be easy to be misled. This is especially true when it comes to something like hash browns, which, since they principally contain potatoes and oil, don’t really come to mind as an item that might violate a gluten-free diet. It’s quite evidential that living with a dietary restriction can be very challenging at times. This sort of thing isn’t always obvious, which is why it’s important to ask if you’re unsure.
9. …or Vegetarian Either
Speaking of dietary restrictions… Just like you’d think they would be gluten-free, you would think that McDonald’s hash browns would be vegetarian. Because, potatoes. And just like with the gluten-free assumption, you would be wrong. McDonald’s hash browns have never been a vegetarian product. They were originally fried in a mixture of vegetable oil and beef tallow. They stopped using the latter ingredient after a push for healthier hash browns, but, since they didn’t want to sacrifice the product’s iconic taste, they decided to add natural beef flavoring instead. This is actually true of French fries as well. After McDonald’s stop using beef tallow to cook their fries, they forgot to mention that they were replacing it with the beef flavoring. This led people to assume that the fries were vegetarian, and when the truth came out it resulted in a pretty major lawsuit. Many countries have stopped using the beef flavoring altogether, but the USA isn’t one of them. This is definitely an issue, since McDonald’s doesn’t have very many vegetarian options on its menu. The fast food chain has come out with a plant-based burger, but even that isn’t available at every location. As a vegetarian or vegan, you might think you can at least enjoy some fries or a hash brown when your non-vegetarian friends suggest a McD’s run, but unfortunately even that isn’t an option. McDonald’s should probably get on it and start coming up with some more plant-based or gluten-free food items, because, right now, the menu isn’t as inclusive of dietary restrictions as it should be.
These days, people tend to be pretty wary around McDonald’s food. And can you really blame them after that whole pink slime scandal? Thanks to that, it can be difficult to eat anything off the McDs menu without spiraling down the rabbit hole of the gross ingredients that it just might contain. Fear not, we’re not here to ruin hash browns for you. Quite the opposite, in fact. You’ll be happy to hear that, overall, the hash brown ingredients are pretty much limited to those you’d expect any fried potato to contain. So basically, lots of oil and lots of potato. There’s also corn flour, salt, black pepper, and, sure, maybe a couple of things we can’t quite pronounce, but as a whole, everything seems pretty above-board here. They’re still not the healthiest thing out there, since they’re, you know, a fried potato, but at least those are ingredients we can actually recognize. So, hopefully it gives you peace of mind to know that you don’t have to worry about pink slime or the likes contaminating your beloved hash browns. It’s all (more-or-less) natural here, my friends. All ingredients are listed on the McDonald’s website, should you like to check out what exactly hash browns, or any of your other McDonald’s food items contain. It can be good to know, especially if you have any dietary restrictions, because, like it says in the previous entries on this list, it’s not always obvious if a food violates parts of your diet.
7. The Birth of the McDonald’s Hash Brown
It’s hard to imagine McDonald’s without hash browns. However, there was such a time. It was a dark time, one that lasted nearly two decades, and one that we have no desire to ever return to. After its opening in the 1950’s, McDonald’s strictly sold lunch and dinner food items. There was no Egg McMuffin, no Hotcakes, and, worst of all, no hash browns. This continued for the remainder of the decade, and throughout the sixties, until 1970, when McDonald’s got the okay to start incorporating breakfast foods into their menu. Nothing was ever the same again. Fun fact, the classic Egg McMuffin was born from the idea of “Eggs Benedict On-the-Go,” and first saw the light of day in 1971. They really didn’t waste any time when it came to breakfast innovation. In 1977 they pulled all the stops, and introduced a full breakfast menu, the precursor to the one we all know and love. One of the newly added food items was, you guessed it, the hash brown. A few years ago, McDonald’s realized that we shouldn’t be discriminating against breakfast foods based on the time of day and blessed us all with All-Day-Breakfast. This was a game changer because it meant that hash browns were now available to satisfy your cravings at any hour of the day. This is possibly a very dangerous thing, for our health and wallets alike, but you won’t hear any complaints from us.
6. 200 Hash Browns Still Won’t Cure a Hangover
Greasy food is a time-honored hangover cure. Does it really do anything to make you feel better? Probably not. Do we love the excuse to fill up on some of our favorite fried foods? Absolutely. However, some people take this practice to the extreme. At nearly five o’clock in the morning, a young man, who was clearly still very inebriated after a night of drinking, pulled in at a McDonald’s Drive-Thru in Sydney, Australia. He first tried to order a serving of chicken nuggets, a reasonable order, and a classic post-drinking companion. Unfortunately, McNuggets aren’t available at all hours. Now, this very drunk man had his heart set on the nuggets, so you can imagine his disappointment at the news. In an epic overreaction, he got incredibly angry and ordered no more than two hundred hash browns. He then proceeded to circle the parking lot as he waited for his order to be prepared, which obviously took quite some time. Finally, he picked up his two hundred hash browns and hit the road. Apparently, the hash browns didn’t sober him up as effectively as he hoped they would. When he was picked up by the cops (in a scene in which he lost any and all remaining dignity he may have had), a breathalyzer test put him at three times the legal blood alcohol limit. Before you say there’s no such thing as too many hash browns, remember to think about this story.
5. Do It Yourself Recipes
You know a food item is famous when moms start pinning copycat recipes on their Pinterest boards. While nothing can ever top the deep-fried goodness you get from an authentic McDonald’s hash brown, many people have given it the old college-try. If you ever find yourself craving McDonald’s hash browns but are too lazy to change out of your pajamas to go get them, you can try your hand at whipping some up from scratch (or you could just get in your car and drive to the Drive-Thru in your pajamas. That would honestly probably take less effort.). You’d be surprised to see just how many DIY recipes are floating around on the Internet. Do a quick Google search and choose whichever one strikes your fancy. As previously stated, McDonald’s doesn’t use a ton of weird ingredients to make this famous breakfast food, so you’ll probably already have most of what you need on hand. Unless you’re a college student who lives off of instant ramen and take out pizzas, but that’s beside the point. You won’t need a deep fryer to get that perfect crispy outside and soft, delicious inside. You can more-or-less achieve the desired texture with just a frying pan and some oil. The best part about making hash browns yourself is that you can control the amounts of oil and salt you use. You get to make any and all executive decisions about what food you’re putting in your body, which is particularly useful if you’re trying to live a healthier lifestyle.
4. Competing with French Fries
Hash browns and French fries are two sides of the same coin. Sure, they’re both forms of deep-fried potatoes, but they somehow manage to have very little in common. Would you eat French fries for breakfast? Well, maybe you would if it were socially acceptable. But the point still stands. Some people who love hash browns hate fries, and vice versa. In fact, its opinions like those that fueled this competition, which sent McDonald’s scrambling for a couple of years. Ever since the fast food chain started serving All-Day-Breakfast, tensions have been rising between these two potato-based foods. The thing is, hash browns and French fries are both cooked in the same deep fryers, meaning that they’re competing for limited real estate. French fries are the most ordered item on the McDonald’s menu, so they’re being cooked pretty constantly. Hash browns infringing on their turf turned out to be more of a problem than was anticipated. When All-Day-Breakfast was first introduced, McDonald’s didn’t have the resources to keep up with the never-ending demand for fries, while also trying to fill the orders for the people who decide to eat their breakfast at four o’clock in the afternoon. For a time, pleasing everyone was pretty much impossible. It took McDonald’s a while to update their systems in order to incorporate the facilities necessary to accommodate both hash browns and fries, but now they’ve pretty much got their rhythm down. So whichever kind of potato you prefer, you can have your pick, regardless of the time of day.
3. Level Up Your Sandwiches
Extreme sandwich making 101: this revolutionary idea will change breakfast forever – and for the better. McDonald’s breakfast sandwiches are pretty amazing on their own. But do you know what the key to greatness is? Throwing a hash brown into the mix. It adds a bit of greasiness, a bit of crispiness and a whole lot of flavor. Seriously. This is something you’ve got to try at least once in your life. Order your favorite McDonald’s breakfast sandwich and pair it with a delicious hash brown for an out of this world experience. Alternatively, the inclusion of a hash brown might seriously improve a sandwich that you’re less of a fan of, potentially leading it to become a new favorite. If you’re feeling creative, you can even make your own sandwich – hot or cold – and toss a hash brown inside to kick things up a notch. The world is your oyster, so get creative with it. Whoever thought of this combination is a bit of a genius, and McDonald’s should definitely take a leaf out of their book. The franchise really needs to step up their game and incorporate a sandwich with a hash brown as one of the fillings to their breakfast menu. Odds are it would be a massive money maker. All in all, the hash brown and breakfast sandwich combination is life changing, and the ultimate meal for any breakfast food fans out there.
2. Rare, Medium or Well-Done?
Typically, it’s only steak that gets ordered as well done (but also, why would you ever do that to yourself?). However, McDonald’s hash browns can be ordered well-done as well. And, unlike steak, a well-done hash brown is actually good. All it takes is a couple of extra minutes in the deep fryer. The resulting product is extra crunchy and extra salty. As a bonus, because they’ve been cooked to be extra crispy, they won’t get soggy, as regular hash browns often do when you order them to go. It’s a win-win situation. By looking at them, you can barely see a difference between a well-done hash brown and one that has been cooked regularly, other than the fact that the former might be ever so slightly darker. However, once you bite into it, the difference will be made clear. Fair warning: once you go well-done, there’s no turning back. Why (and how) would you ever go back to the oily, soggy, unsatisfyingly-crunchy hash brown once you’ve experienced this crispy miracle? And fear not, the inside is still as soft and flavorful as ever – if anything, it’s just slightly saltier, which, in our opinion at least, is not a bad thing whatsoever. Don’t deprive yourself of well-done hash browns any longer; next time you hit up McDonald’s, be sure to ask for them. Being the annoying customer with the oddly-specific order will be totally worthwhile once you’re eating this amazing food item.
1. Don’t Eat and Drive
We all know drinking and driving is bad. We all know texting and driving is bad. And so, technically, we should probably all realize that eating and driving isn’t all that great either. It’s a definite distraction, and it involves taking one hand off the wheel. Yet, many of us still do it all the same. It’s not something you get in trouble for, right? Well, according to this Connecticut man, Jason Stiber, who was enjoying his McDonald’s hash brown on the go, that would be incorrect. He was pulled over by the police and issued a three hundred dollar ticket for talking on his cellphone while driving. Stiber posited that what the policeman thought was a telephone was – you guessed it – a McDonald’s hash brown. It sounds a bit ridiculous, but his phone records didn’t show any calls at the time in question. The police officer who pulled him over was fifteen hours into his shift at that point, meaning that it was very possible that he mistook the hash brown for a phone due to sheer exhaustion. To be fair, they are very similar in size and shape. In the end, Stiber was acquitted, but he was quoted as saying that he had kind of lost his affinity for hash browns. Can you really blame him? We can all learn a little something from this situation. One: eating and driving can come back to bite you (pun intended). Two: if you do decide to enjoy your hash browns while driving, be subtle about it. And try to avoid holding it up to your ear, or anything suspicious like that.