Anything can be french fries with a little innovation. Step 1: Take something that is not fries. Step 2: Make it into fries. Step 3: Profit.

That’s how we ended up with two of the latest offerings at two of America’s biggest fast food chains: donut fries at Dunkin’ Donuts, and nacho fries at Taco Bell. On their surface, they seem like the kind of food that Europeans make fun of Americans for eating: unabashedly lowbrow and artificial, and highly portable, the kind of thing that harks back to mid-aughts blogs about ridiculous food mash-ups like This Is Why You’re Fat.

The Post's Maura Judkis tries two very different takes on the classic french fry. (Grace Raver/The Washington Post)

But in the battle of the alternative fries, who wins?

The donut fries are fried “croissant-style” doughnut dough shaped like thick french fries, coated in cinnamon and sugar. They’re similar to churros, but the batch we got from our local Dunkin’ was very dry. The fries could have benefited from a dipping sauce — maybe some pink doughnut icing? — because, let’s be honest, pretty much any handheld food can be improved by a dipping sauce. You’re better off just having an actual doughnut.

As for the nacho fries: They’re not made out of reconstituted, deep fried nacho chips. These are regular, potato-based french fries — a bit on the soggy side — coated in a red nacho seasoning that tastes pretty much like the nacho cheese Doritos. Best of all, they come with a queso dipping sauce — the kind of highly processed cheese that will stir up memories of elementary school cafeteria nacho day for a certain generation. You can also get other toppings, like ground beef.

The donut fries are skippable. But the nacho fries remind us what fast food companies have long known: Food doesn’t have to be good to be good.

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