Never trust anyone who doesn’t order fries at a fast-food restaurant. Either they’re on a diet—and everyone knows you can’t trust people who diet—or they don't fundamentally understand how to extract joy from life. 

You can get a better burger, better chicken sandwich, better taco (looking at you real hard, Jack in the Box) anywhere else, but through some combination of science and magic, fast-food joints manage to put out the best fries in the world. I don’t care how many years that Belgian street-cart owner has been cutting potatoes by hand, because he can’t hold a candle to the stoned 16-year-old in a paper hat using an industrial-sized funnel to throw previously frozen potato sticks into a cardboard box. They’re the real unsung heroes here.

Whether it’s due to years of trial and error, or the roster of food scientists on the payroll spraying potatoes down with 18 additional ingredients—everyone knows McDonald’s fries would be nothing without that signature sodium acid pyrophsphate twang—fast-food restaurants have built fiercely loyal followings based on their fries alone. But, for every story like McD’s, whose fries have remained almost exactly the same for half a century, you have other places like Wendy’s, who are continually reformulating and trying to find their way.

Since we can all hopefully agree that fast-food fries are the best in the world, they deserve to be scrutinized just like all the other best foods in the world—with complete pedantic abandon, until we’ve over-analyzed so much that we wind up resenting them. Cool, so let’s get to it.

Here is a definitive ranking of the best fast-food french fries.