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I never saw 2004’s “AVP: Alien vs. Predator” but I remember its tagline: “Whoever Wins … We Lose.” I happily took on this assignment ranking fast food’s breakfast potato offerings because I do indeed like hash browns — anything made from a hot potato, actually. As I imagined the task at hand, I could close my eyes to walls of flattened, golden-brown textured sheets of spuds scrolling past me in a dreamy blur. With eyes open, however, reality sank in quickly, and I realized that the last couple fast food breakfasts I’ve eaten over the years resulted in a stomach so angry it made its displeasure known by rejecting its new contents in an upward burst of caustic bile. And, go figure, the employees serving these morning time meals in the commercials look so damn upbeat. Nonetheless, I assure you I’ve tackled this hard-hitting ranking with the utmost seriousness and sobriety. But in the end, like the victims of the aforementioned alien apocalypse film, whichever potato wins … I’ve lost. At least that’s what my stomach tells me.

8. Del Taco
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¡Ay, caramba! I think it was Cesar Chavez who said that if you’re going potato hunting, head north of Mexico. I should have heeded his advice before walking into Del Taco. Honestly, I like their hash browns’ shape the most out of any of the superior entries found below. It’s a miniature, stumpy rectangle, which is an uncommon imprint on the hash brown legacy. With just a hint of grease –- but not in a good way -– these practically flavorless breakfast potatoes are all sizzle and no steak.

7. Burger King
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If I didn’t know better, I’d think someone dropped an anvil on batch after batch of tater tots to achieve the shape of the hash browns served at the Home of the Whopper. Yes, it results in bite-sized rounds with strong flavor, but I’m just not sure you’d call it tasty. The outside crust is a beautiful golden brown, but it tastes more like potato product than actual potato — with just enough greasiness to keep your tummy on edge.

6. McDonald’s
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As a kid, I remember these hash browns coming in a paper wrapper, causing leftover remnants to stick to it when the patty itself was gone. They’ve since improved upon the packaging, which is now defiantly non-stick. A whole lot more about this product has been improved upon, too, except for the taste. Today’s McDonald’s hash brown patty knows what it is. Its shape exudes confidence and respect. Golden brown with shapely curves, it’s one sexy bitch of a potato. It’s unfortunately all potato product flavor, with lots of grease to boot. I don’t know where the hash brown of yore disappeared to, but it sadly does not make limited returns like its long lost cousins the McRib and the Shamrock Shake.

5. Jack in the Box
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Not amazing, but not terrible either, this is a respectable square patty. It doesn’t scream flavor, but here that’s not necessarily a bad thing — what’s there is commendable. But the most unique thing about the Jack in the Box hash brown is that it doesn’t seem to be shredded or cubed. Instead, it’s got a smooth interior texture almost as if the outside crispiness formed around a puree. This anomaly makes the eating experience extra appealing. Our first entry with no greasiness at all, it’s both a big plus and an interesting surprise, just like a jack-in-the-box itself.

4. Carl’s Jr.
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A police sketch might not be able to distinguish the Carl’s Jr. hash brown from Burger King’s, but a stomach sure can. Another flattened tot, the Carl’s Jr. potatoes have a richer brown coating and a really great taste. Most of all, they’re free of that greasiness that plagues the other taters on this list. Carl’s Jr. may not have much going for it compared to other well-branded fast food restaurants — except for consistently adding pounds and dollars to their already bulging burgers — but they do get props for their hash browns in flavor and inventive appearance.

3. Chick-fil-A
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Wait, it’s time for a triple take! Chick-fil-A has a lot going for it. It’s far surpassed The Colonel and his janky strips, breasts and drumsticks in the newly competitive fast food fried chicken market. I’ve bestowed praise on their innovative take on the french fry before, so there was some disappointment when their hash brown looked just like Carl’s Jr.’s — which in turn looked just like Burger King’s. But the points they lost to conformity were made up for in taste. The singular plumpness and heft to this little tot-lette separates it from its carbon copies above. Plus, they have a great taste with no grease. I may not have found a hash brown I’d want to eat hand over fist yet, but we are definitely getting closer.

2. Wendy’s
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In my previously mentioned award-winning* Mandatory article ranking fast food french fries, I confessed that I do not like strange, unnatural coatings covering the potato no matter the shape or size, e.g. the substance caked on curly fries that makes you question whether they were exposed to some horrific tragedy involving a distressed nuclear reactor. So when my eyes connected to these crispy little chip-like objects cloaked in such a coating, I bravely put down my hazmat suit and tasted instead. I was thoroughly surprised. They were delicious. More like a chip than a hash anything, I was impressed by not only the flavor, but this out of the box breakfast potato offering as a whole. This could be fodder for a serious craving, unlike any of the potato heads above.

*Article won no such award

1. Taco Bell
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Yes, Taco Bell. You want the king of the hash browns? Then make a run for the border. Square and similar in appearance to that of Jack in the Box, but with a taste beyond compare, this is what the kids are eating for breakfast these days when they don’t want a bellyache. No grease; just taste. And to hold such a powerful patty in your hands rather than, say, a tot-lette between just two fingers — like it was some sinful marble — only heightens the breakfast experience. If the Statue of Liberty had to trade in her torch for something, and that something had to be a breakfast potato, then this would be it no question. Just don’t tell Donald Trump. He might try to have the old girl deported.

THE ULTIMATE RANKING OF 8 FAST FOOD BREAKFAST POTATOES

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