Burger King introduced its new thick-cut style of fries in a big way on Friday, by giving away its new fries for free to any customers who want to taste the new item. Burger King says it will give away one value size french fry order per person, per visit, but how does it stack up to McDonald's French fried offerings?

    One value sized French fry order contains 240 calories, 10 grams of fat, and 330 milligrams of sodium, while a small order of French fries from McDonald's has about 230 calories, 11 grams of fat and 160 milligrams of sodium. McDonald's has seldom altered its French fry formula, and there's a reason behind that.

    McDonald's, which is the largest buyer of potatoes in the U.S., began freezing its fries in 1966 as the company sought a way to mass-produce its sliced potatoes for its rapidly expanding franchise. McDonald's fries have always been more popular and profitable than its hamburgers, even by the great American chef and food writer James Beard. The company only once changed the cooking oil of its French fries, from cottonseed oil and beef tallow to pure vegetable oil, but one of the key ingredients to the fries was the mysterious ingredient called natural flavor. The flavor reportedly alters the aroma and subtle color of the food, both of which largely affect one's perception of taste.

    Burger King's new fries are a thicker cut of potato, which creates a more fluffy and wholesome potato flavor on the inside but retains that golden-brown crisp on the outside. The fried coating keeps the fries hotter longer, and also adds a crunch texture to keep customers coming back for more. Burger King's new fries contain 20 percent less sodium than the previous fries, and the company says they're healthier because they're cooked in trans fat-free vegetable oil, and don't contain animal products. 

    With the launch of our new fries, the home of America's favorite burger now has the best fries in the business, said Leo Leon, vice president of global innovation for Burger King.

    Burger King says the free fries event will be held at participating locations, so check Burger King's restaurant locator to see if the stores nearby you will be giving away the new thick-cut fries. A Burger King spokesperson said the company will sell the fries on Dec. 16from midnight to midnight, but other non 24-hour locations will give away the fries as soon as they open. Stores that aren't open 24/7 are typically open from 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. midnight.

    In October 2010, Burger King was purchased by 3G Capital, a private investment firm. Since then, Burger King has introduced a number of new items to its menu, including BK Toppers, Stackers and Mini lines, a Stuffed Steakhouse burger, revamped chicken tenders, Quaker oatmeal, soft serve ice cream and more. Today, Burger King is the No. 2 burger chain after McDonald's, with 12,400 outlets in 73 countries. 

    What do you think of Burger King's new fries? Do they taste better than the old style? Does it taste better just because it's free? These are things we want to know.