French fries

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French fries
A dish of French fries
Alternative names Chips, hot chips, finger chips, fries, steak fries, wedges, potato wedges, frites
Course Side dish or snack, rarely as a main dish
Place of origin Belgium or France
Serving temperature Hot, generally salted, often served with ketchup, mayonnaise, vinegar, barbecue sauce, or other sauce on the side
Main ingredients Potatoes and oil
Cookbook: French fries  Media: French fries
Pommes frites with a salad mayonnaise packet

French fries (American English), chips,[1] fries,[2] finger chips,[3] or French-fried potatoes are batons of deep-fried potato.[4] In the United States and most of Canada, the term fries refers to any elongated pieces of fried potatoes, while in the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa, Ireland and New Zealand, long, thinly cut elongated strips of fried potatoes are sometimes called shoestring to distinguish them from the more thickly cut strips called chips.

French fries are served hot, either soft or crispy, and generally eaten as part of lunch or dinner, or on their own as a snack, and they commonly appear on the menus of fast food restaurants. French fries are generally salted and are often served with ketchup; in many countries they are topped instead with other condiments or toppings, including vinegar, mayonnaise, or other local specialties. Fries can also be topped more elaborately, as in the dishes of poutine and chili cheese fries. Sometimes, fries are made with sweet potatoes instead of potatoes, are baked instead of fried, or are cut into unusual shapes. Fries made with ordinary potatoes are sometimes baked as well.


Oven-baked fries

Thomas Jefferson had "potatoes served in the French manner" at a White House dinner in 1802.[5][6]

The expression "French Fried Potatoes" first occurs in print in English in the 1856 work Cookery for Maids of All Work by E Warren:

French Fried Potatoes. – Cut new potatoes in thin slices, put them in boiling fat, and a little salt; fry both sides of a light golden brown colour; drain.[7]

In the early 20th century, the term "French fried" was being used in the sense of "deep-fried", for other foods such as onion rings or chicken.[8][9]

It is unlikely that "French fried" refers to frenching in the sense of julienning, which is not attested until after French fried potatoes. Previously, frenching referred only to trimming meat off the shanks of chops.[10]

Culinary origin


It is claimed that fries originated in Belgium, and that the ongoing dispute between the French and Belgians about where they were invented is highly contentious, with both countries claiming ownership.[11] From the Belgian standpoint the popularity of the term "French fries" is explained as a "French gastronomic hegemony" into which the cuisine of Belgium was assimilated because of a lack of understanding coupled with a shared language and geographic proximity between the two countries.[11]

Belgian journalist Jo Gérard claims that a 1781 family manuscript recounts that potatoes were deep-fried prior to 1680 in the Meuse valley, in what was then the Spanish Netherlands (present-day Belgium): "The inhabitants of Namur, Andenne, and Dinant had the custom of fishing in the Meuse for small fish and frying, especially among the poor, but when the river was frozen and fishing became hazardous, they cut potatoes in the form of small fish and put them in a fryer like those here."[12][13] Gérard has not produced the manuscript that supports this claim, which, even if true, is unrelated to the later history of the French fry, as the potato did not arrive in the region until around 1735. Also, given 18th century economic conditions: "It is absolutely unthinkable that a peasant could have dedicated large quantities of fat for cooking potatoes. At most they were sautéed in a pan...".[14]

Some people believe that the term "French" was introduced when British and American soldiers arrived in Belgium during World War I and consequently tasted Belgian fries.[15] They supposedly called them "French", as it was the local language and the official language of the Belgian Army at that time, believing themselves to be in France.[12] At that time, the term "French fries" was growing popular. But in fact the term was already used in America as early as 1899, in an item in Good Housekeeping which specifically references "Kitchen Economy in France": "The perfection of French fries is due chiefly to the fact that plenty of fat is used".[16]

"Pommes frites", "frites" (French), or "frieten" (Dutch) became the national snack and a substantial part of several national dishes, such as Moules-frites or Steak-frites.[17]


A popular Québécois dish is poutine, such as this one from La Banquise restaurant in Montreal. It is made with French fries, cheese curds and gravy.

In France and other French-speaking countries, fried potatoes are formally pommes de terre frites, but more commonly pommes frites, patates frites, or simply frites. The word "aiguillettes" or allumettes is used when the French fries are very small and thin.

One enduring origin story holds that French fries were invented by street vendors on the Pont Neuf bridge in Paris in 1789, just before the outbreak of the French revolution.[18] However, a reference exists in France from 1775 to "a few pieces of fried potato" and to "fried potatoes".[5]

Eating potatoes was promoted in France by Parmentier, but he did not mention fried potatoes in particular. Many Americans attribute the dish to France and offer as evidence a notation by U.S. President Thomas Jefferson. "Pommes de terre frites à cru, en petites tranches" ("Potatoes deep-fried while raw, in small slices") in a manuscript in Thomas Jefferson's hand (circa 1801–1809) and the recipe almost certainly comes from his French chef, Honoré Julien.[5] In addition, from 1813[19] on, recipes for what can be described as French fries occur in popular American cookbooks. By the late 1850s, one of these uses the term French fried potatoes.[20]

Frites are the main ingredient in the Canadian dish of Québécois descent known in both Canadian English and French as poutine, consisting of fried potatoes covered with cheese curds and gravy, a dish with a growing number of variations.


In Denmark, Sweden and Norway they are called Pommes Frites (potatoes, fried). They are the most common form of potatoes when served together with breaded plaice (or certain other low fat fishes). When served with fish, represents remoulade and a good lemon slice the typical Danish version of fish and chips. Remoulade is a yellowish often fat sauce which mostly is based on mayonnaise and pickles usually made of minced cauliflower and cabbage.

Pommes Frites are also served in entire Scandinavia as a stand-alone dish (then together with ketchup, remoulade or hamburger dressing). Fried sausage (same kind as for Hot Dogs), hamburgers or schnitzels may be the meat portion of a dish which includes french fries. Some actual restaurants (as contrast to "fast-food") can serve french fries. Then usually to an entrecote or other beef together with bearnaise. Better restaurants tend to avoid serving french fries, with the possible exception of fish'n chips.


In Spain, fried potatoes are called patatas fritas or papas fritas. Another common form, in which the potatoes are cut into irregular shapes and seasoned with a spicy tomato sauce, is called patatas bravas.

Some[who?] speculate that the dish may have been invented in Spain, the first European country in which the potato appeared via the New World colonies, and assume the first appearance to have been as an accompaniment to fish dishes in Galicia,[citation needed] from which it spread to the rest of the country and further to the Spanish Netherlands, which became Belgium more than a century later.

Professor Paul Ilegems, curator of the Frietmuseum in Bruges, Belgium, believes that Saint Teresa of Ávila fried the first French fries, referring also to the tradition of frying in Mediterranean cuisine.[13][21]

Subsequent history

French fry production at a restaurant with thermostatic temperature control.

The J. R. Simplot Company is credited with successfully commercializing French fries in frozen form during the 1940s. Subsequently, in 1967, Ray Kroc of McDonald's contracted the Simplot company to supply them with frozen fries, replacing fresh-cut potatoes.

In 2004, 29% of the United States' potato crop were used to make frozen fries – 90% consumed by the food services sector and 10% by retail.[22] It is estimated that 80% of households in the UK buy frozen fries each year.[23]

By country

Belgium and the Netherlands

A patatje speciaal, with frietsaus, curry ketchup or tomato ketchup, and chopped raw onions, is popular in the Netherlands.

Fries are very popular in Belgium, where they are known as frieten (in Dutch) or frites (in French), and the Netherlands, where they are known as patat in the north and, in the south, friet.[24] In Belgium, fries are sold in shops called friteries (French), frietkot/frituur (Dutch), or Fritüre/Frittüre (German). They are served with a large variety of Belgian sauces and eaten either on their own or with other snacks such as fricandelle or burgers. Traditionally, fries are served in a cornet de frites (French), frietzak/fritzak (Dutch), or Frittentüte (German), a white cardboard cone, then wrapped in paper, with a spoonful of sauce (mayonnaise and many others) on top. They may also be served with other traditional fast-food items, such as frikandel/fricadelle, fishsticks gehaktbal/boulet (meatballs) or kroket/croquette.[citation needed] In the Netherlands, fries are sold at snack bars, often served with sauce Fritessaus or curry ketchup.[citation needed].

Friteries and other fast-food establishments tend to offer a number of different sauces for the fries and meats. In addition to ketchup and mayonnaise, popular options include:[25] aioli, sauce andalouse, sauce Americaine, Bicky Dressing (Gele Bicky-sauce), curry mayonnaise, mammoet-sauce, peanut sauce, samurai-sauce, sauce "Pickles", pepper-sauce, tartar sauce, zigeuner sauce, and À la zingara. These sauces are generally also available in supermarkets. In addition to this, hot sauces are sometimes offered by friteries, including hollandaise sauce, sauce provençale, Béarnaise sauce, or a splash carbonade flamande stew from a constantly simmering pot, in the spirit of British chips and gravy.[citation needed]

Currywurst and frites, Germany


In France, the thick-cut fries are called Pommes Pont-Neuf[26] or simply pommes frites, about 10 mm; thinner variants are pommes allumettes (matchstick potatoes), ±7 mm, and pommes paille (potato straws), 3–4 mm (roughly 0.4, 0.3 and 0.15 inch respectively). The two-bath technique is standard (Bocuse). Pommes gaufrettes are waffle fries.

Germany, Austria, Switzerland

French fries migrated to the German-speaking countries during the 19th century. In Germany, where they are usually known by the French words pommes frites, or (derived from the French words, but pronounced as German words) only Pommes or Fritten, they are often served with mayonnaise, and are a popular walking snack offered by Schnellimbiss ("quick bite") kiosks.[27] Since the advent of Currywurst in the 1950s, a paper tray of sausage (bratwurst or bockwurst) anointed with curry ketchup and laced with additional curry powder, and a side of french fries, has become an immensely popular fast-food meal.[28]

United Kingdom

The usual deep-fried potatoes in the United Kingdom are called "chips", and are between 10 and 15 mm (0.4 to 0.6 inches) wide. They are occasionally made from unpeeled potatoes. Chips are often less crisp than the continental European French fry, owing to their relatively high water content. British chips are not potato chips, which are called "crisps" in Britain.

Like other deep-fried potatoes, they are cooked twice, once at a relatively low temperature (blanching) to cook the potato, and then at a higher temperature to crisp the surface, making them crunchy on the outside and fluffier on the inside.[citation needed]

In the UK, chips are part of the popular fast food dish fish and chips.

The first chips fried in the UK were sold by a Mrs 'Granny' Duce, in one of the West Riding towns beginning in 1854.[29] A blue plaque in Oldham marks the origin of the fish and chip shop and fast food industries in Britain.[30] In Scotland, chips were first sold in Dundee, " the 1870s, that glory of British gastronomy – the chip – was first sold by Belgian immigrant Edward De Gernier in the city's Greenmarket".[31]

United States

Although French fries were already a popular dish in most British commonwealth countries, the thin style of French fries has been popularized worldwide in part by the large American fast-food chains, such as McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's.[citation needed]

Pre-made French fries have been available for home cooking since the 1960s, usually having been pre-fried (or sometimes baked), frozen and placed in a sealed plastic bag.

Some later varieties of French fries are battered and breaded, and many fast-food chains in the U.S. dust the potatoes with kashi, dextrin, and other flavor coatings for crispier fries with particular tastes. Results with batterings and breadings, followed by microwaving, have not achieved widespread critical acceptance. Oven frying delivers a dish different from deep-fried potatoes.


Tornado fries

There are several variants of French fries. They include:


An assortment of Belgian sauces for fries

Fries tend to be served with a variety of accompaniments, such as salt and vinegar (malt, balsamic or white), pepper, grated cheese, melted cheese, mushy peas, heated curry sauce, curry ketchup (mildly spiced mix of the former), hot sauce, relish, mustard, mayonnaise, bearnaise sauce, tartar sauce, chili, tzatziki, feta cheese, garlic sauce, fry sauce, butter, sour cream, ranch dressing, barbecue sauce, gravy, honey, aioli, brown sauce, ketchup, lemon juice, piccalilli, pickled cucumber, pickled gherkins, pickled onions or pickled eggs.[32]

Health aspects

Fries frying in oil

French fries contain primarily carbohydrates from the potato (mostly in the form of starch) and fat absorbed during the deep-frying process. For example: a large serving of French fries at McDonald's in the United States is (154 grams); nearly all of the 500 calories per serving derive from the 63 g of carbohydrates and the 25 g of fat; a serving also contains 6 g of protein, plus 350 mg of sodium.[33]

Frying French fries in beef tallow, lard, or other animal fats adds saturated fat to the diet. Replacing animal fats with tropical vegetable oils, such as palm oil, simply substitutes one saturated fat for another. Replacing animal fats with partially hydrogenated oil reduces cholesterol but adds trans fat, which has been shown to both raise LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol. Canola/Rapeseed oil, or sunflower-seed oil are also used, as are mixes of vegetable oils, but beef tallow is generally more popular, especially amongst fast-food outlets that use communal oil baths.[34][35][36] Accordingly, many restaurants now advertise their use of unsaturated oils; for example, both Five Guys and Chick-fil-A advertise that their fries are prepared with peanut oil.[37][38]

French fries contain some of the highest levels of acrylamides of any foodstuff, and concerns have been raised about the impact of acrylamides on human health.[39] According to the American Cancer Society it is not clear, as of 2013, whether acrylamide consumption affects people's risk of getting cancer.[39]

Legal issues

In June 2004, the United States Department of Agriculture, with the advisement of a federal district judge from Beaumont, Texas, classified batter-coated French fries as a vegetable under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act. This was primarily for trade reasons. French fries do not meet the standard to be listed as a processed food.[40][41] This classification, referred to as the "French fry rule", was upheld in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit case Fleming Companies, Inc. v. USDA.[42][43]

In the United States in 2002, the McDonald's Corporation agreed to donate to Hindu and other groups to settle lawsuits filed against the chain for mislabeling French fries and hash browns as vegetarian,[44] because their French fries and hash browns were found to contain beef extract added during production.


See also


  1. ^ "chip: definition of chip in Oxford dictionary (British English)". 12 September 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  2. ^ "The American Heritage Dictionary, Fourth Edition, 2000". Archived from the original on 5 December 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2009. 
  3. ^ Indian English, "finger chip". Cambridge Dictionary Online. 
  4. ^ "french fry – Definition". Food & Culture Encyclopedia. Retrieved 5 December 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c Le Moyne Des Essarts, Nicolas-Toussaint (1775). Causes célebres curieuses et interessantes, de toutes les cours ..., Volume 5, p. 41 and P. 159. Retrieved 16 November 2014.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "ppc_hess1" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  6. ^ Fishwick, Marshall W (1998). "The Savant as Gourmet". The Journal of Popular Culture (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing) 32 (part 1): 51–58. doi:10.1111/j.0022-3840.1998.3201_51.x. 
  7. ^ Home : Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  8. ^ Mackenzie, Catherine (7 April 1935). "Food the City Likes Best". The New York Times Magazine: SM18. Retrieved 15 April 2007. ... the chef at the Rainbow Room launches into a description of his special steak, its French-fried onion rings, its button mushrooms ... 
  9. ^ Rorer, Sarah Tyson (c. 1902). "Page 211". Mrs. Rorer's New Cook Book. Philadelphia: Arnold & Company. p. 211. Retrieved 12 April 2007. French Fried Chicken 
  10. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, June 2010
  11. ^ a b Schehr, Lawrence R.; Weiss, Allen S. (2001). French Food: On the Table On the Page and in French Culture. Abingdon: Routledge. p. 158. ISBN 0415936284. 
  12. ^ a b (French) Hugues Henry (16 August 2001) La Frite est-elle belge? at the Wayback Machine (archived May 24, 2013). Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  13. ^ a b Ilegems, Paul (1993). De Frietkotcultuur (in Dutch). Loempia. ISBN 90-6771-325-2.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "ilegems1" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  14. ^ Leclercq, Pierre (2 February 2010). La véritable histoire de la pomme de terre frite,, mentioning the work of Fernand Pirotte on the history of the potato
  15. ^ McDonald, George (2007). Frommer's Belgium, Holland & Luxembourg. Wiley Publishing. p. 485. ISBN 978-0-470-06859-5. 
  16. ^ Handy, Mrs. Moses P. "Kitchen Economy in France", Good Housekeeping, Volumes 28–29 159 Vol XXIX No 1 July 1899 Whole No 249. [1]. Retrieved 16 November 2014.
  17. ^ Schehr, Lawrence R.; Weiss, Allen S. (2001). French Food: On the Table On the Page and in French Culture. Abingdon: Routledge. pp. 158–9. ISBN 0415936284. 
  18. ^ "La frite est-elle Belge ou Française ?". Le Monde (in French). 2 January 2013. Retrieved 3 February 2014. 
  19. ^ Ude, Louis (1822) The French Cook. J. Ebers
  20. ^ Warren, Eliza (c. 1859). The economical cookery book for housewives, cooks, and maids-of-all-work, with hints to the mistress and servant. London: Piper, Stephenson, and Spence. p. 88. OCLC 27869877. French fried potatoes 
  21. ^ Schoetens, Marc (13 December 2005). "Heilige Teresa bakte de eerste frieten" (in Dutch). De Morgen. Retrieved 25 October 2006. [dead link]
  22. ^ Frozen Potato Fries Situation and Outlook at the Wayback Machine (archived December 15, 2013). (21 July 2004). Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  23. ^ Top Chip Facts at the Wayback Machine (archived February 11, 2011). 27 February 2011
  24. ^ See this map indicating where patat/friet/frieten is used in the Low Countries
  25. ^ "La Frite se mange-t-elle à toutes les sauces?" (in French). 2011. Archived from the original on 16 November 2008. Retrieved 20 April 2011. 
  26. ^ Saint-Ange, Evelyn and Aratow, Paul (translator) (2005) [1927]. La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange: The Essential Companion for Authentic French Cooking. Larousse, translation Ten Speed Press. p. 553. ISBN 1-58008-605-5. 
  27. ^ "Erste Runde – Pommes frites", Atlas zur deutschen Alltagssprache (AdA), Phil.-Hist. Fakultät, Universität Augsburg, 10. November 2005
  28. ^ Currywurst – die Erfindung: Nur ohne ist sie das Original
  29. ^ Chaloner, W. H.; Henderson, W. O. (1990). Industry and Innovation: Selected Essays. Taylor & Francis ISBN 0714633356.
  30. ^ The Portuguese gave us fried fish, the Belgians invented chips but 150 years ago an East End boy united them to create The World's Greatest Double Act Daily Mail. Retrieved 21 September 2011
  31. ^ "Dundee Fact File". Dundee City Council. Retrieved 20 March 2007. 
  32. ^ List of accompaniments to french fries – Unlikely Words – A blog of Boston, Providence, and the world. Unlikely Words (7 November 2011). Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  33. ^ "McDonald's Nutrition Facts for Popular Menu Items" (PDF). 
  34. ^ "Fats and Cholesterol". Harvard School of Public Health. Retrieved 14 September 2006. 
  35. ^ "Trans: The Phantom Fat". Nutrition Action Healthletter (Center for Science in the Public Interest). Retrieved 14 September 2006. 
  36. ^ "Dietary fats: Know which types to choose". Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). 22 June 2006. Retrieved 14 September 2006. 
  37. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". 
  38. ^ "Healthy Lifestyle". Chick-Fil-A. 
  39. ^ a b "Acrylamide". American Cancer Society. 1 October 2013. Retrieved September 2014. 
  40. ^ "Country of Origin Labelling: Frequently Asked Questions". Agricultural Marketing Service. 12 January 2009. 
  41. ^ Dreyfuss, Ira (16 June 2004). "Batter-Coated Frozen French Fries Called Fresh Vegetable". The Washington Post. 
  42. ^ "AGRICULTURAL MARKETING AGREEMENT ACT - vol63_at_958.pdf" (PDF). Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  43. ^ "04-40802: Fleming Companies v. Dept of Agriculture :: Fifth Circuit :: US Court of Appeals Cases :: Justia". Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  44. ^ Grace, Francie (5 June 2002). "McDonald's Settles Beef Over Fries". CBS News. Retrieved 4 May 2011.