McDonald's Tests DIY Seasoned Fries

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McDonald's to test seasoned fries
Rich Kareckas/AP
Ronald's not the only one getting a new look at McDonald's. The fast-food giant will be testing out new seasonings for its fries in select locations.

At Stockton, California, and St. Louis restaurants, McDonald's (MCD) patrons can order Garlic Parmesan, Zesty Ranch and Spicy Buffalo fries. The new fries require some assembly and come with step-by-step instructions for customers to sprinkle their fries with seasonings.

McDonald's spokesperson Lisa McComb confirmed the tests, which Foodbeast.com first reported, to CNBC.

%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%McComb said the fast-food giant got the idea from its seasoned fries in Asia, which first debuted in Hong Kong nearly a decade ago and have since launched in China, India and Australia.

Restaurant chains often test items in select markets before deciding whether to expand a new item nationwide.

No word yet on whether McDonald's will expand the test.

"As with all tests, we aren't in a position to draw conclusions or make assumptions about the test since it is just beginning but we hope customers in these two markets enjoy the new flavors," McComb said.

The move comes as McDonald's battles to turn around its U.S. same-store sales, which have dropped 1.3 percent so far this year.

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Go Inside The Secret Test Kitchen Where McDonald's Invents New Menu Items
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McDonald's Tests DIY Seasoned Fries

Tucked away at the McDonald's C.O.B. — or Campus Office Building — is the test kitchen, where the fast food chain comes up with all sorts of products.



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The kitchens are up on the top floor on Big Mac Blvd. Yes, McDonald's names all the "streets" in its global headquarters office building.



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Here's what Big Mac Blvd. looks like. Kitchens on the left, cubicles on the right.



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Here we are — the test kitchen is called the Culinary Center.



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It's a bit strange, actually — a McDonald's kitchen encased in glass that's more fitting for a conference room.



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The kitchen has some appropriate reading.


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We met up with Chef Jessica Foust, a nutrition and culinary manager at the test kitchen.



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Judging by the setup, the kitchen was prepped to handle the McWraps and Fish McBites. The box o' fish is the McDonald's latest limited-time offering, hitting locations just in time for Lent.



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It has all the gadgets that a regular McDonald's kitchen would have.



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Like these handheld pumps.



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And the usual cups and shakers.



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There's even a little guide on how to get buns toasted perfectly.



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So we ran through the whole process of making a McWrap — a product that McDonald's is counting on going forward.



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The whole assembly line was set up — simple enough.



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The finished product (well, after we'd taken a bite) — just like you'd see in restaurants.



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We also got to try those Fish McBites, which weren't in stores yet.



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The breading's different from a Filet-O-Fish and it's a totally different experience.



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A lot of people shy away from fast food fish, but it wasn't too bad. We wouldn't go out of our way to order it, though McDonald's Filet-O-Fish lovers might.



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What's Foust's favorite item that never made it into restaurants? A blueberry yogurt ice cream shake, she told us.



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That's not the only kitchen at the McDonald's HQ. There are plenty more running down the side of Big Mac Blvd.



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On the way to another one, we ran into Chef Dan Coudreaut, the executive chef at McDonald's.



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Other chefs were at work too. This one was getting some bacon ready for some unknown project.



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It was a bit of a mess in there, like a scientist's lab, with chefs busy at work with their food.



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There's also the Sensory Evaluation Center, which McDonald's uses to test the new stuff they're experimenting with in order to get the feedback to improve the products.



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It's a key part of product development. In the Difference Test, you evaluate everything from appearance and color to viscosity and flavor.



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The items come through a magic door. We tasted a set of mango pineapple smoothies and each of them were slightly different.



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