The Truth About The Controversial '6 French Fries' Rule

When Eric Rimm, ScD, Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, gave a quotation to The New York Times in November 2018, he had no idea that it would go viral on Twitter. "I think it would be nice if your meal came with a side salad and six French fries," he said.

"Top Chef" host Padma Lakshmi — who as of this writing has 788,000 followers on Twitter — tweeted about the quotation, saying, "I don't have time for this kind of negativity in my life right now." And from there, things went viral. People from all over chimed in, defending French fries and their starchy deliciousness.

Rimm later clarified, saying that he commented in the interview that oftentimes parents will eat French fries off their children's plates, stealing only the best six fries. "I went through that discussion with the writer, but of course, all they wanted was the quote saying that Prof. Rimm wants to restrict everybody to just six fries," Rimm said in July 2021 (via Refinery29).

Everything in moderation

Dr. Eric Rimm explained what he was really thinking when he gave the now-famous quote, sharing on Twitter in December 2018, "My suggestion to the NYTimes was that perhaps restaurants should offer a smaller portion size as a tantalizing option to satisfy those with a taste for fries but who don't want the starch bomb."

Lakshmi also clarified her tweet, telling Refinery29, "I mean, I think it was more of a joke. I don't think I was looking too deeply into it. But the idea that anyone could only eat six fries is still anathema to me. You want a handful at least, or at least half a portion."

In the end, Rimm was grateful for the publicity the article and the controversy brought him. He said he was contacted by many colleagues with whom he was able to discuss the issue of public health and how unhealthy food can often be over-served in restaurants. He told Refinery29, "There was a message about mindfulness and to enjoy your food—just a little bit of it."