What Made Burger King's Shake 'Em Up Fries So Unique

As mustard goes with hot dogs and hot wings with beer, so is a burger always served with fries. There's a lot of debate over which brand makes the best fast food version — after all, who orders even a single burger without a side of salty, crispy potatoes, right? Outlets like Thrillist and UPROXX list Arby's and Five Guys at the top, with those classic McDonald's fries coming in a close second, but one fast food giant you never see bringing home the Yukon Gold is Burger King. This isn't to say that Burger King makes bad fries, but it would seem that most prefer their spuds from a clown rather than served by a king. 

To give Burger King some credit, the company has been known for tinkering with their fries to try and bring them into the spotlight. In 2005, they introduced the popular Chicken Fries to the menu, while 2016 saw a special edition of the poultry side dish covered in crushed Cheeto dust (via Eater). In 2014, their "Satisfries," a supposedly "healthier" take on the standard fast food fry, were met with a lukewarm-to-disinterested reception, per The Motley Fool. But their most inspired creation may have come in 2002, when the burger behemoth introduced Shake 'Em Up Fries, one of their more innovative experiments that combined the energetic participation of Shake 'N' Bake and the oily, fresh-out-of-the-fryer taste of fast food fries. Just what exactly was the magic behind Shake 'Em Up Fries, and why don't we hear about them anymore?

Customers could shake up their fries in cheese powder

"Just dump in your fries, add as much cheesy flavor as you want, shake, and eat!" proclaims the 2002 commercial, featuring eager kids jumping up and down as they shake their potato-packed bags in anticipation of cheesy nirvana. The concept behind Shake 'Em Up Fries relied on the customer dumping their shoestring spuds into a bag, pouring in a dehydrated cheese powder, and then shaking the bags until the fries were completely covered in cheesy dust. Promoted alongside shows like Nickelodeon's "Rocket Power" and "The Simpsons" (via YouTube), Shake 'Em Up Fries were meant to reimagine the french fry and propel Burger King as a champion of bold new inventions in the fast food market — or at least they hoped.

Unfortunately, Shake 'Em Up Fries really didn't seem to shake up customers as much as the company wanted, and the item was quietly discontinued. Spoon University poses a few hypothetical reasons as to why the fries didn't take off. Perhaps customers weren't in the mood to do a little extra work for their food, or perhaps they realized they were paying more just for some processed cheese powder to dump on their fries. Maybe overeager kids spilled the powder all over the place and it was just too much of a mess to order again. We may never know the truth. Although Burger King's fries still need improvement to some, you can't say they never tried to shake things up.