The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

There are 19 ingredients in McDonald’s french fries

Science. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

At this point the best McDonald's ad campaign might be no ad campaign at all.

The fast food giant's latest marketing pitch is a series of videos about its french fries. In one (watch it here), actor and former "MythBuster" co-host Grant Imahara answers the question no one was asking: What's in McDonald's french fries? He explains that you can trace McDonald's fried potato sticks back to—wait for it—potatoes. In another (watch it below), which is even more perplexing, McDonald's reverses the narrative, by detailing each and every ingredient that goes into its french fries. And there are many. So so many.

McDonald's french fries, according to McDonald's, don't have 17 ingredients, as some have suggested. They have 19.

But relax, McDonald's implores, there's a reason. The rest of the nearly 3 minute video is dedicated to explaining why exactly each of those 19 ingredients is essential. Most of the explanations are fine—serving as many french fries as McDonald's does with that level of consistency is a much more difficult task than making them at home. But some of them are strange. Why, for instance, are seven different types of oil needed? And do people really want to know about this one?

"Dimethylpolysiloxane: it's a long word. It's the longest word on this list. And I know it sounds scary, but it's actually an anti foaming agent," Imahara says casually, as though anti foaming agents are the sort of things grandmothers use to make lasagna.

But nevermind about Dimethylpolysiloxane (which is actually a fairly innocuous additive that keeps oil from splashing). What's really problematic about this latest ad campaign is that it furthers the evidence that McDonald's doesn't get what its customers want

Americans who walk through McDonald's restaurants' doors do so to indulge. As I've pointed out before, people visit cheap burger chains for a respite from their (hopefully) healthier dietary regimens, not for yet another reminder from their conscience that they could be eating something better for them.

McDonald's is trying to adjust to modern tastes, in which people want to know more about where their food comes from. They want to feel comfortable about what they're putting in their bodies. But there is such a thing as too much information—and when it comes to fast food french fries, the less people know, the more they can enjoy the food. If only McDonald's would let them.