Canada may have made poutine a national dish, but here in the US, we're no slouches at making french fries way more awesome by piling even more delicious stuff on top, and yes, most of it is in some kind of dairy or meat product. Who makes the best loaded fries? Surprisingly, lead fast food chain McDonald's isn't especially on the ball in this regard, but there are numerous others to pick up the cheesy, meaty, loaded fries goodness slack. Chili cheese fries are just the beginning - there is some crazy, belly-busting creativity in the field of loaded potatoes. Some of these fry dishes are retired, others on hiatus, and one even preparing to make a big debut. Don't eat them all at once, but if you love your taste buds, definitely give them all a try.
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Arby's Loaded Curly Fries
Curls and seasoning make any form of cheese fries better. Luckily, though for a limited time, Arby's has stepped up with a concoction of cheese sauce, cheese, bacon, and possibly the most unusual ingredient on this list: Parmesan ranch. Owners of the dairies in Parma, Italy, probably never intended their unique, divine cheese to be mixed with an American buttermilk dressing, and you probably shouldn't tell them. They might take this away from us.
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Wienerschnitzel's Triple Cheese Double Bacon Chili Cheese Fries
If you're reading this list, you probably don't care too much about your waistline. Granted, this bowl of fries is slightly less bad for you than it sounds - there are actually only two types of cheese on it, but one is counted twice because of there being two slices. But that's like saying a Big Mac has fewer calories than a McDonald's salad: ultimately irrelevant in the face of deliciousness, or the thought process of somebody who was going to buy it anyway.
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In-N-Out Animal Fries
Part of the beloved West Coast chain's secret menu, this edible addiction involves smothering the fresh-cut fries in thousand island dressing, grilled onions, and a couple slices of the thick, melty processed cheese used on the burgers. It sticks to your mouth, and probably your arteries too, but a life without 'em isn't worth living.
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Jody Maroni's Chili Cheese Fries
Jody Maroni's is a small chain known for hot dogs, and subtitled "sausage kingdom," but their chili cheese fries are among the best of any fast food joint. Perfectly browned, crispy-outside-soft-inside natural-cut fries merge with a chili and cheese that melt right into one another - and can only be improved with a few squirts from that big bottle of hot sauce on the counter.
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Del Taco Chili Cheese Fries
Del Taco's crinkle-cut fries aren't spectacular, but augment them with chili, grated cheese, judicious amounts of ketchup, and mild taco sauce, and you're close. These bad boys are also available in a deluxe version with tomatoes, onions, and sour cream, if you like overkill, but the basic version is solid, and probably the most "major chain" offering on the list.
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Steak 'n Shake's Parmesan Cheese 'n Herbs Seasoned Fries
Granted, these may stretch the definition of "loaded" slightly, but who said loaded fries all had to be heavily loaded? Sometimes a hint of cheese and some chopped-up green bits is all you need to bring out the goodness in your favorite starch. Steak 'n Shake also offers Cajun, salt 'n vinegar, or sea salt 'n cracked pepper, but unless you're a vegan, go for the cheese. And if you are a vegan, what are you doing at place named after meat and dairy products?
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White Castle Loaded Fries
If Harold and Kumar had been real people rather than movie characters, they'd have ordered these first, sliders later. Nothing says inebriated post-party food like fries in cheese sauce with ranch dressing and bacon crumbles. As with everything White Castle, it's simple, basic, and good. Share them with the person who's your Neil Patrick Harris.
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Rally's Fully Loaded Fries
Rally's stands out by giving their fries a "secret seasoning" (as Marge Simpson might say, "The secret ingredient is salt!") before dolloping on cheese sauce, ranch dressing, and bacon. The toppings might normally be more at home on a baked potato than on fries, but enough with that healthy talk! Fries are the best thing you can do with a potato.