In-N-Out is a popular west coast fast food restaurant known for serving burgers without additives or preservatives. The Los Angeles Times ranked their fries as one of the worst in both taste and texture (David Chang agrees), sparking a debate about why people dislike In-N-Out fries.
The fries at In-N-Out are sliced fresh, a process that is visible to anyone inside the restaurant. However, to many, that is not enough to salvage the fries from being boring and bland.
In the Los Angeles Times ranking, the writer, Lucas Kwan Peterson, described the fries as, "Bland, crumbly little matchsticks that aren't improved by any amount of ketchup, salt, cheese, or salad dressing you want to add to them."
Other writers have been creative in describing how much they dislike the fries. Thrillist described them as, "stiff and cold and devoid of the lush, velvety texture of your craveable contemporaries... You are roughly as flavorful as the puff of air that optometrists use to check eye pressure."
One theory as to why the fries are so bad is that the oil is too clean. For good fries, the oil has to be dark from multiple uses comparative to the way a cast iron pan has to blacken up to produce good food (via Chowhound).
Ways to improve the fries
The answer to why many find In-N-Out fries bland could also be the ingredients. The company describes the fries as, "fresh hand-cut potatoes prepared in 100 percent vegetable oil." Compared to most fries, such as McDonald's, In-N-Out fries have very few ingredients. If you like cooked potatoes, you will likely enjoy In-N-Out fries. If you prefer more ingredients and flavors added to your fries, you will likely find them bland.
However, if you're at In-N-Out and want some fries to go along with your burger, there are some ways to hack them to taste better. You can order cheese fries, which is exactly what it sounds like — the fries served covered in cheese. You can also order them animal style, where the fries are covered in cheese and their special sauce, along with grilled onions on top (via Food Beast).
These methods still won't please everyone, as evidenced by Kwan Peterson in the original ranking, as he discussed the possible ways to improve the fries: "It doesn't make the fries any worse. Just as dumping the fries into a dirt pile on the shoulder of a highway access road and running over that pile with my car would also probably not make the fries any worse." You can't please everyone.