Why Nathan's Famous Changed Up Its Fan-Fave Fries For One Season

crinkle cut fries
crinkle cut fries - EJ Grubbs/Shutterstock

Fast food fries can be surprisingly diverse, from the thin and crispy ones at McDonald's to the seasoned curly fries of Arby's. But few are as iconic as Nathan's Famous crinkle-cut fries, which have provided the perfect side to the chain's legendary hot dogs for generations. While you may expect them to be the same for every visit, one year, a fluke occurrence surprised Nathan's fry lovers everywhere.

Back in the summer of 2012, when diners dug into those paper boats with the chain's famous two-pronged plastic fork, many immediately noticed something was awry. While the fries looked the same as always, the taste was distinctly different -- diners told local news stations that the potatoes were starchier, mushier, or otherwise changed from what they were used to.

They weren't imagining things, as Nathan's Famous quickly confirmed that the fries were, in fact, different. Usually, the company makes its fries from a type of potato known as the Katahdin, which has a distinctive starch content and smoother texture. However, after that year's crop of Katahdins matured too early, Nathan's was forced to use russet potatoes instead.

Read more: Ranking Fast Food Fried Chicken Sandwiches From Worst To First

Uncommon Potato, Uncommon Results

nathan's famous original location
nathan's famous original location - Mizoula/Getty Images

Many may not be familiar with Katahdins, which are an heirloom variety of potatoes first cultivated in the 1930s. They're known for their high yield, drought tolerance, and storage ability. When cooked, they maintain a fluffy, sweet, almost creamy texture due to their moderate starch content, which makes for fries with less overall starchiness than average.

In contrast, russets have a drier, lighter, floury texture, along with an earthy flavor. You might recognize them from chains like McDonald's, Sonic, or Wingstop. While the distinctions are often subtle, true connoisseurs learn to recognize these and the other differences between every type of potato.

Luckily for die-hard Nathan's fans, Nathan's was able to reestablish its supply of Katahdin potatoes about a month later. This temporary but noteworthy fry switch is just one chapter in the fascinating history of Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs.

Read the original article on Mashed.