To some degree, Burger King’s introduction of “Satisfries,” with about 20 percent fewer calories and 30 percent less fat than regular fries, marks a welcome change. It breaks the trend of ever-larger and less-healthy meals from fast food outlets, who’ve seemingly been in a race to add more bacon, cheese, and even pancake syrup to their offerings. Burger King says its Satisfries won’t taste or feel any lighter: They have the same ingredients as regular fries, but prepared in a way that causes less absorption of oil. But if Satisfries are genuinely healthier and customers really won’t notice the difference, can’t Burger King just apply the new formula to all its fries? It would thereby save all its customers some unneeded fat.
Instead, Burger King is marketing the product as a healthier substitute for its regular fries, at a slightly higher price. That kind of sales pitch may backfire for some consumers, who’ll overestimate how healthy reduced-fat fries really are. For others, Satisfries may be a helpful addition to the menu. But Burger King and its fast-food rivals would do better to look for ways to cut fat and calories from their most popular products.