Did you know that Thomas Jefferson recorded one of the earliest French fry recipes on record? In celebration of National French Fry Day (happening July 13), we turned to Fries! An Illustrated Guide to the World’s Favorite Food by Blake Lingle to bone up on our French fry history.
From how to eat them to where they come from, click on for more fun fry facts.
Fries Aren’t Unhealthy
It’s true. Lingle writes that researchers from University of Naples culinary school found that once-fried fries have the same amount of oil as a bowl of Neapolitan spaghetti. Of course, that doesn’t account for eating a pound of fries every day… But go ahead and order them (in moderation), guilt free.
How Other Countries Eat Fries
Oh, you’re just dunking your fries in ketchup? In South Korea, there’s a fry corn dog (that’s right, fries stuck to a stick!). In Japan, fries are served with furikake, a mix of dried bonito flakes, seaweed, sesame seeds, and more. And in Mexico, fries are served with hot sauce and lemon juice.
Fries Were Part of the First Fast Food Establishment
The UK is the birthplace of fish and chips (that’s fries to the Yanks). And scholars claim that chip shops circa 1860 were the first fast-food places in the world. The first US fast food spots (A&W and White Castle) didn’t open until 1919 and 1921.
Fryers Have (Officially) Been Around 100 Years
It’s true. Fryers of some kind, writes Lingle, probably popped up around the first century AD. In the 1800s, fryers were found in carts, restaurants, and even some swank houses. And the first commercial fryer (with heating elements and a filtration system) was patented in the U.S. in 1918 by Pitco Frialator Inc., which besides having an awesome name, still makes fryers to this day!
Most Fries are Coated in Sugar
We consumers like that golden brown fry – it’s part of the fantasy. And sugar, writes Lingle, caramelizes the outside of russet and white potatoes when fried. So chances are most fries you pick up have a subtle coating to help with color and crispness.
There is No Such Thing as a Common Shape
Fry shape is limited only by your imagination. In fact, writes Lingle, the three biggest American fry producers each offer more than 100 varieties! You’re probably familiar with the steak, shoestring, and curly fries; you’ve probably dug into cube fries in a hash and tornado fries at a fair. But how many of you have had smiley faces, alphabet fries, or stars?
People Want Fries All the Time
The original friteries (restaurants that make fries) started as early as the 1850s, were usually just pots and fry cooks, and were near busy corners and town squares. That’s basically still the case except we’ve made a few upgrades: the Boise, Idaho airport had a fry vending machine in the 90s.