If you think the only thing to now about French fries is that they’re delicious, think again. Here are fifteen interesting facts about our favorite fried vegetable.
15. They Go By Different Names
We call them “French fries” or just simply “fries” in America. But, in the U.K., they’re called “chips.” And, in France, they’re called “frites.” No matter what they’re called, we can all agree on one thing: French fries are loved by just about everyone in the world.
FUN FACT: In 2003, Congress attempted to remove the word “French” from French fries and rename them “Freedom Fries.” Why, you ask? Well, the U.S. was quite upset about France’s opposition to their plan to invade Iraq. So, Republicans wanted to get rid of the name “French fries.” They even went so far as to change the title of the menu option in Congressional cafeterias. But, as support for the Iraq war began to wane, the name on the menu was eventually changed back to “French fries.”
14. We Consume a LOT of Fries
According to National Geographic, the average American eats nearly 30 pounds (the weight of a small child) of French fries each year. But, that’s not even the worst of it. Belgians eat more French fries than anyone else. In fact, they consume 165 pounds (the weight of an adult!) per person each year. Hmm, wonder how many jars of mayo they go through in a year? LOL!
FUN FACT: No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. And, we didn’t make a typo either. That said, yes Belgians eat their fries with mayo-based sauces. Hey, to each his own.
13. Most Restaurants Deep-Fry Them Twice
There’s a science to making the perfect French fry, and restaurants have got it down pat. As any great chef knows, French fries need to be cooked twice in order to come out just right — once in cooler oil to blanch them, and a second time in hotter oil right before they are served so they can have just the right amount of crispiness. Otherwise they’ll just end up limp and soggy or burned on the outside and undercooked on the inside.
12. The Term “French Fry” Used to be a Verb
Once upon a time, French fries were called “French fried potatoes” due to the method in which they are cooked. So, the term “French fry,” then, was used to describe foods that were deep-fried. Other “French fried” foods included onions, now called onion rings, and chicken, now just referred to as fried chicken. So, the next time you go to McDonald’s, use the correct terminology and ask for an order of French fried potatoes instead. Don’t be surprised if you get some strange looks, though.
11. No One Knows Exactly Where They Originated
Even though they’re called French fries, no one is exactly certain where French fries originated. Depending on who you ask, they originated in France and were first sold there in 1789 by street vendors on the Pont Neuf bridge in Paris. If you ask someone from Belgium, they’ll tell you that they’re called French fries because the French often appropriated Belgian food and culture. And, if you ask someone from Spain, they’ll tell you that their country invented the French fry because they were the first to bring potatoes across the Atlantic from the New World.
10. There are at Least 15 Types of French Fries
We bet you didn’t know there are at least 15 different styles of French fries? They include standard, shoestring, curly, steak, thick-cut, waffle, crinkle-cut, tot, wedge, sweet potato, Belgian, cottage, side-winding, tornado, and smiley face.
-Thicker cut fries have less fat because the oil from frying is mostly stored in their crispy edges.
-Waffle fries aren’t made using a waffle iron. The potatoes have to actually be cut into that shape using a mandoline. The potato is turned 90 degrees before each cut.
9. You Can Get Them from Vending Machines
Did you know that there are vending machines that dispense hot, crispy French fries? No? Don’t feel bad, we didn’t know it either. But, it’s true. The first of its kind debuted in Australia in 1982. The vending machine would first cook the fries, then dispense them — all in under one minute! Other machines began popping up all over the world in places like China, Belgium, Israel, Slovakia, and the Netherlands. Unfortunately, we don’t have one here in the U.S. yet. Hopefully we’ll get one in the near future (fingers crossed).
8. Your Fries Likely Came From McCain Foods
You know those fries you just finished scoffing down? There’s a pretty good chance they were produced by McCain Foods, a Canadian multi-national privately owned company founded in 1957 in Florenceville, New Brunswick, Canada. How do we know this? Well, according to an article published in 2016 by Mental Floss magazine, McCain Foods is the world’s largest producer of frozen fries, including those sold in restaurants and in stores. In fact, one in three fries in the world comes from McCain Foods!
7. You Could Get Them for 10 Cents in the 1950s
Believe it or not, once upon a time, if you had a dime in your pocket, you had enough money to purchase a small order of fries from McDonald’s. That was back in the 1950s. Today, a small order of French fries at McDonald’s costs about $1.39. Multiply that by 9 million pounds — that’s the number of French fries McDonald’s sells each day — and you’ll see that it comes out to, well, quite a bit of moolah! LOL!
6. They’re the Vegetable of Choice Among Toddlers
According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, French fries (fried potatoes, actually) are the most frequently consumed vegetables for children ages 2 to 4. This obviously isn’t the healthiest diet in the world, but believe it or not, French fries aren’t all bad. They actually contain vitamin B6, vitamin C, iron, and magnesium. And, here’s something else: Studies show that frying potatoes in oil actually increases the amount of antioxidants found in them! Not too bad, huh? Just be careful not to overdo it. The risks far outweigh the benefits.
5. Some Cuts are Healthier Than Others
When it comes to healthy vegetables, we all know that potatoes are at the bottom of that list — especially when you remove its skin, which happens to be where many of its nutrients are found. But, for the somewhat health-conscious folks out there, we have a bit of good news: Some cuts of French fries are healthier than others. Elaine Magee, author of 25 books about nutrition and healthy cooking and a corporate dietitian for the supermarket chain Albertsons Companies, told The New York Times that crinkle cut fries (what happens to be the cut most people love to hate) and shoestring fries are the healthiest cuts, followed by waffle fries and curly fries, both of which have a greater surface area to soak up oil.
4. They Lead to Fights
According to Fox News, it seems that people love French fries so much that they are willing to fight over them. Believe it or not, taking French fries off of your significant other’s plate is one of the most common causes of lovers’ quarrels at restaurants.
Wanna know what else leads to restaurant fights? Changing from straight-cut to crinkle-cut fries. That’s what happened when a Maine restaurant decided to unveil a new fry cut. Some customers became so angry that they threatened to fight the owners.
3. They Have Their Own Song
John Calvi loved French fries so much that he wrote an ode to them in 1982. It starts off like this: “This old world has troubles, everyone knows there’s garbage in all of our lives. We try to get through it, each our own way. And for me, I just eat French fries.” Then he goes on to say, “Some they take vitamins, A B and C, tofu, granola, brown rice. They all give me wheat germ and brewers yeast. And I put it on my French fries.”
2. There’s a Museum Dedicated to Them
If you ever happen to travel to Bruges, Belgium, stop by the Frietmuseum. It’s a museum dedicated entirely to French fries, and it’s the first and only one of its kind. Housed in the Saaihalle, a popular tourist attraction, Frietmuseum explains the history of the potato and French fries and the different condiments with which they are served. On the ground floor, visitors can learn all about the origin of the potato. On the first floor, visitors can learn about when French fries were first introduced to Belgium. But, perhaps the best part of all is that you get to sample some delicious fries at the museum as well. Yum!
1. They Have Their Own Day
National French Fry Day is celebrated on July 13. It’s not known just who exactly is the creator of National French Fry Day, and its place of origin is unknown as well. But, that shouldn’t stop you from celebrating. National Calendar Day suggests celebrating in these ways: enjoying some French fries, sharing them seasoned or dipped, ordering them cut and shaped how you like, and posting pictures of them on social media using the hashtag #NationalFrench FryDay.
FYI, you can get free fries from several restaurants on National French Fry Day. McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s are just a few of the eateries that gave away free fries on July 13, 2019.
Now that you know a little something about French fries in general, check out these interesting facts about McDonald’s French fries.