Moses Annenberg
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McDonald’s Is Trying Sweet Potato Fries

McDonald's customers in Texas will get to try a new side dish: sweet potato fries.

The chain is testing the alternative fries in 18 restaurants in the Amarillo, Texas, area that offer the customizable Create Your Taste menu.

A lot of people are pretty excited.

Unfortunately for sweet potato fans, there aren't yet plans to launch the fries nationally. Of course, if the limited-time trial goes well, we could see sweet potato fries at more McDonald's locations beyond Texas.

As part of its new strategy, McDonald's is taking a more regional approach to menu launches.

"Sweet potatoes are most popular in the South, where per capita use was estimated to 5.7 pounds in 2001," according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is "more than twice that of the West (2.6 pounds), which consumes the fewest sweet potatoes."

Still, there could be a reason the orange fries haven't already made it onto more fast food menus. McDonald's isn't the first chain to offer them. Burger King had the fries for a brief period in 2012, but they're off menus now.

Demand for the root vegetable simply may not be that high, and most people only cook sweet potatoes as a seasonal dish during the holidays. It hasn't actually been that popular for decades.

Per capita use of sweet potatoes peaked in 1920 at 29.5 pounds and declined to about 4.1 pounds per year in the 1980s, remaining about stable since then, according to the USDA.

"Further concentrated effort will be required to coax the highly nutritious sweet potato out of the holiday shadow and into everyday life," the agency wrote.

McDonald's is giving it a shot.