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Six fries per serving? Internet fired up over Harvard prof’s skimpy serving suggestion

Is this a serving of French fries? A Harvard professor begs to differ. Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images/File 2018/AFP/Getty Images

Want fries with that?

How about six fries?

After a Harvard professor recommended in a New York Times article that six French fries equals a serving, social media collectively responded with a resounding: “No.”

Harvard’s Eric Rimm, professor in the departments of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, called potatoes “starch bombs” in a recent Times article, “You Don’t Want Fries with That.”

“I think it would be nice if your meal came with a side salad and six French fries,” Rimm said in the Nov. 29 article.

Then things got heated.


His suggestion was picked up in a headline and tweeted by multiple outlets.

It sparked think pieces and an entire segment on the “Today” show.

Esquire ran a cheeky follow-up titled: “A Harvard professor suggests limiting yourself to six french fries might help you live a longer life. But what kind of life is that, anyway?”

The GIFs also came fast and furious, including one of a “Jurassic Park” dino scarfing fries.

Celebrity cook/model Padma Lakshmi tweeted the story, adding: “I don’t have time for this kind of negativity in my life right now.”

That tweet alone got 32,000 likes and launched hundreds of comments, including comedian Mike Birbiglia’s response: “It must be a typo. They probably mean 600.”

Scientist and MacArthur fellow Peter Gleick tweeted: “Dude, you are seriously not helping the public perception of scientists . . . ”

Charlotte Wilder, a senior writer at Sports Illustrated, tweeted: “The day I eat only six fries is the day someone serves me only six fries and refuses to give me more.”

The Globe contacted Rimm for a follow-up Wednesday, and it was clear that he was quite aware of the social media tsunami he’d created. The professor admitted that he didn’t “want to be the guy that takes away what people love,” he just wanted to suggest that restaurants give diners more options.


“Does my sandwich or dinner always need to have only a huge hunk of fries or a side salad?” he asked. “Why not a few fries and the rest a green? A perfect match.”

He then put the serving-size issue in starker terms yet for the legions of fry lovers out there.

“A fast food restaurant large order of French fries is like drinking three to four cans of cola in terms of calories and blood sugar. That’s gotta make your gut hurt after a meal.”

Lauren Daley can be reached at ldaley33@gmail.com. She tweets @laurendaley1