What came out of this actually is a very interesting ghost or spirit story, however you want to interpret it, that she's never really shared before with very many people at all, and so we wanted to share that with you. Now, make sure you stay tuned to the end of the segment after the conversation that we have is over because there's a little piece of content that you're going to want to hear about and might be very interested in after hearing what Cori has to say. So stay tuned for that, and I'll talk to you in about seven minutes.
Think what you will, but we figured we wanted to share that video with you so you know we're not just talking about this stuff, it's actually happening. So we haven't missed a year yet. It's continuing to happen. If anything changes, we'll let you know. But for now, have a Happy Halloween.
My name is Malcolm Gladwell. You're listening to Revisionist History, my podcast about things overlooked and misunderstood. This week, I'm on a mission to understand why McDonald's betrayed me so many years ago. Our story begins in a nondescript office park in Foster City, California, just south of San Francisco, a place called Mattson. Maybe the top Food Research and Development house in the country, the Los Alamos of food science. I came here to walk back the cat, as they say in the intelligence business, to figure out what happened on July 23, 1990, the day McDonald's changed the recipe of their fries forever and turned their backs on everything I once held dear.
TV Host: For most of us, cholesterol is a private affair, but an Omaha man has made it a public crusade and he is spending a personal fortune going after what he thinks are the fountains of fat in America.
MG: When he called up some of these, uh, executives of big food companies, what was he saying to them I mean, was he charming them, was he brow beating them, was he, I'm just curious about what kind of conversations were going on.
Just recently, I got in contact with Dick Starman, the McDonald's executive who went toe to toe with Bill Sokoloff on network TV. I wanted to know what happened inside McDonald's headquarters after Sokolof came at them. Did they have a picture of him with a bull's eye on it How was it that a company making mass produced milkshakes, hamburgers, and deep fried potatoes was somehow sensitive to the charge that they were making unhealthy food That kind of thing. He didn't want to talk. Maybe it's still a sore point after all these years. All we know is McDonald's gave in, they folded. And once they folded, everyone else did too. Wendy's announced they were going with 100% corn oil, Burger King said they would switch to cottonseed and soybean.
Formula 47 was what's called a hard fat. Butter is a hard fat, lard, which is pork fat, is a hard fat. Hard fats are saturated fats. From time immemorial, practically every culture in the world has used hard fats for baking and cooking for good reason. Hard fats are stable. They don't undergo strange chemical changes when they're heated and they're thick and creamy, not oily and fluid, which makes a big difference. You put butter on a slice of bread; it stays nice and thick on the surface. You put vegetable oil on bread and the next thing you know, you're nice firm slice has turn to mush. When Nabisco took saturated fat out of the creamy middle of the Oreo cookie, the R&D was like the Apollo space program. The greatest minds in food engineering had to sit down and try and figure out how to keep the white part from turning into a slippery, oily mess.
When Ray Kroc said that the French fry was sacrosanct to him, what he meant was that every element of its preparation was chosen for a reason; chosen because it made for the optimal French fry experience. Kroc has a line in his autobiography where he talks about how the McDonalds brothers taught him never to cook French fries in fat that had been previously used to cook anything else like fried chicken. \"Any restaurant will deny it\" he writes, \"but almost all of them do it.\" But Kroc, he listened and right from the beginning, he put his foot down. There would be no cross contamination of the McDonald's cooking oil. That's someone who truly cares about French fries. That's the legacy he created under the golden arches. And then, all of a sudden, this random guy from Omaha puts a gun to McDonald's head and says, \"Change or else.\"
GM: And what happens is , uh, it breaks down in the fryer and then, you know, fumes come out and it goes all around the restaurant, let's say in McDonald's, and the surface of the furniture is sticky because this stuff that they call a mist, you know, comes out because of the breakdown products.
MG: They would spontaneously combust! The point is that this is not some trivial matter, it's not. If you order a fried egg in a restaurant, you don't stipulate the medium in which you would like the egg to be cooked. It doesn't matter that much; a fried egg is a fried egg. But think for a moment about what a French fry is. You start with a potato and a potato was basically starch and water, maybe 80% water. You plunge the potato into a vat of cooking oil and the heat of the oil turns the water inside the potato into steam. That steam is the key to the fry. First, it makes the hard starch of potato swell and soften, which is why the interior of a fry is so fluffy and light. At the same time, the steam rising from inside the fry keeps the cooking oil on the surface of the fry instead of seeping into the middle; that's why a fry is brown and crisp on the outside.
BS: Very good question. We're gonna taste some because we chose it because of the flavor. We wanted to kind of go back in time with you, so we tried to find the tallow that we thought had the beefiest flavor, which would be probably the closest thing to what McDonald's started with. So, um, I sent Paolo to the local Mexican market right up the street and we found a tallow there that has a really nice, rich, beefy flavor.
MG: It's hard to describe what the Mattsonites are like. In one sense, they're foodies although that word suggests a kind of sybaritic, slightly decadent approach to food, smacking their lips and tucking into something fantastic and telling you about that time they had barbecue in Kazakhstan that was out of this world. That's not how the Mattsonites talk about food. They're dispassionate, objective, oddly specific. When Stuckey, Shimek, and I retreated back to the conference room to wait for the French fry samples to be cooked, Stuckey started talking about a restaurant she had just eaten at.
MG: Three batches of fries prepared according to the same exacting specifications, but two were entirely forgotten. And we didn't have to be told what kind they were. They were what the fast food world has been passing off as a French fry for the past quarter century. But the third batch, 637, to die for. That was the old school fry; the kind of French fry that doesn't exist anymore.
MG: That's when we brought in the millennials as a second opinion but also as an act of mercy because they had no idea that this is what a French fry could be like. And it seemed unbearably cruel to deny them that privilege when a mound of 637 was just sitting there on the table.
The writers have found their groove again; the characters are so much more interesting in this depressed state, and their actions finally make sense. The Keating Five would not have acted out if they were not under such immense pressure from their secrets! It will be exciting to see what mindset everyone is in when the show comes back in February.
At the Commission, The Handler is getting fitted into yet another incredible outfit when Lila shows up. Her mother already knows Diego is M.I.A. because she threatened Herb with a knife to tell him what happened with the infinite switchboard.
In Tyrion's quarters, Podrick Payne girds Tyrion for war while Varys presents him with a much-desired map: it shows all the tunnels and secret passageways beneath King's Landing. He also mentions that, according to his little birds, Stannis has devoted himself to the Lord of Light and the red priesthood. Varys has never mentioned precisely how he was castrated, but the... Well. Perhaps some other time. (In the book he does explain it; see the trope section below for what was left out.) But suffice it to say, Varys hates any practitioner of magic and will stop at nothing to keep one (IE Stannis) from the Iron Throne.
Maegor's Holdfast is a cramped and dreary place; there isn't even music, just some guy juggling (Ser Dontos Hollard, that guy Sansa saved in the first episode of the season, now the new court fool). Cersei walks in wearing a Breast Plate, either as a Lampshade Hanging or as further evidence of her vanity, with Tommen in tow. She immediately summons Sansa and the two have a rather stilted conversation. Sansa can't help but be distracted by the presence of Ser Ilyn Payne, the King's Justice (read: executioner, the man who killed her father on Joffrey's order), but Cersei claims he's there for everyone's protection. This is somewhat undermined by a Kingsguard knight reporting that several servants are trying to escape out a postern door with horses and gold cups: Cersei orders Payne to \"see to\" them. Like Theon before her, Cersei subscribes to Machiavelli.
In Maegor's Holdfast, Sansa is praying with several other noblewomen when Cersei summons her again. \"You're perfect, aren't you,\" Cersei marvels, seemingly in earnest. Sansa, praying to the gods to have mercy On everyone \"Even me Even Joffrey\" And Sansa's fledgling liar skills can't get her through that one. Cersei starts making mock of the gods, and then of her guests, whom she was obliged to invite but clearly has little use for. Sansa asks what will happen if the city falls, and Cersei declares she will surrender. \"If it were anyone else outside those gates, I might have hoped for a private audience, but this is Stannis Baratheon. I'd hav