Is there anything more delicious than thinly sliced potatoes, deep fried in hot oil and liberally sprinkled with salt? We think not, but we’re not the only people who love our french fries!
The United States celebrates National French Fry Day each year on July 13. Ready for some fun ideas for celebrating? We’ve got you covered!
A French Fry World Tour
Americans didn’t invent the french fry nor are we the only country who loves the delicious potato snack. In fact, several European countries vie for the honor of being the originators of the treat! Let’s take a brief tour across the continent to see what each country has to offer:
There is a massive debate between the French and Belgians about the origins of the french fry. The French, however, lay a strong claim. In fact, Thomas Jefferson, while president in 1802, served his guests fried potatoes from silver bowls using a recipe he’d acquired while in Paris, France.
The thin, fried potatoes, however, are rumored to have been invented just before the French Revolution in the late 1700s, by street vendors. Today, the French call their fries “pommes frites” or simply “frites,” and are often served alongside steak in an extremely popular dish called steak-frites.
Poor Belgium. Most people can’t find it on a map, and because the inhabits speak French, more often than not, it gets lumped into French cuisine and history. That’s not to say it doesn’t have a special relationship with french fries, however.
Belgians claim that regions of the country were using fried potatoes as stand-ins for fried fish during the winters when it was too cold to fish. During World War II, Belgians served British-style chips (wedge-like french fries) to the American soldiers. Historians believe that french fries got their name then, as the soldiers mistakenly believed they were in France (sorry again, Belgium).
The United Kingdom (And Ireland)
The British love their fish and chips! In the UK, chips don’t refer to thin slices of potatoes that are fried and bagged (they call those “crisps”); instead, it refers to thick wedges of potatoes that are fried, salted, and often served with fried fish or served alone in paper cups, with salt and malted vinegar for dipping.
British historians point to chips first being sold in West Riding by Mrs. Duce in the mid-1800s, and it didn’t take long for the side dish/treat to become wildly popular among restaurants, street vendors, chip shops, and home kitchens.
French Fry Trivia
One of the best ways to celebrate National French Fry Day is with some french fry trivia! Here are six facts you probably don’t know about the origin of the french fry, its history, and the many, many ways it can be consumed.
1. Americans Eat A LOT Of French Fries
Over two million tons per year, to be precise, which works out to about 29lbs. per person, per year. That’s a lot of oil, salt, potatoes...and ketchup!
2. Speaking Of Potatoes…
The Russet Burbank is the potato of choice for American french fries, and together Idaho and Washington (the two top potato growing states) produce a mind-boggling 23 billion pounds of potatoes each year. Of course, all those potatoes aren’t just for fries--we also enjoy mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, and potato chips.
3. And You Thought You Loved Potatoes
Potatoes originated in South America, where the Incans, especially, held them in high esteem. So high, in fact, that potatoes were an object of worship.
It makes sense if you think about it, since the small tubers were delicious, packed with vitamin C (later, Spanish conquistadors would realize they could be used to prevent scurvy and lasted much longer than fruit), and came in a variety of colors and sizes.
The Spanish originally called potatoes truffles and were the first to bring the starchy vegetable to the European continent in the 1500s.
4. McDonald’s And Fries Just Go Together
Where would McDonald’s be with french fries, and where would french fries be without McDonald’s? The fast food chain (along with Wendy’s and Burger King) is a huge part of why we consume so many french fries today.
In fact, 7% of all the potatoes grown in Idaho and Washington--and the rest of the country--head straight to those giant yellow arches to be turned into french fries! They also account for more than ⅓ of all the french fries American restaurants sell each year.
McDonald’s used to fry its potatoes in beef tallow (fat), but after pressure from activists, switched to vegetable oil.
5. The Belgians (Finally) Win
As it turns out, however, Americans are not the world’s largest consumer of french fries per capita. That award goes to Belgium, where the country’s citizens eat a whopping 165lbs. of fries per person every year.
Belgium isn’t messing around with its fries, either; they use a softer potato, cut them thick, and then fry them twice in anything from lard to beef fat to vegetable oil. Yum!
6. Fries In Space
French fries have been places you haven’t. In 2014, Greek researchers paired with the European Space Agency (ESA) to study the impact of gravity on deep frying (talk about a delicious science experiment!).
There’s good news and bad news: if you have a centrifuge in your backyard and can crank the gravity to three times the strength of Earth’s gravity, you’ll be able to enjoy delightfully crisp fries. If you’re an astronaut frying up potatoes in space without gravity’s help, however, you’re going to end up with some soggy fries. Sorry, astronauts!
Where To Get Free Fries On National French Fry Day
When it comes down to it, if you’re not eating french fries on National French Fry Day, you’re not truly celebrating. So, here’s a list of popular places that often celebrate National French Fry Day with free fries, promos, or other fun events.
Fast food giants like McDonald’s, Arby’s, Wendy’s, Dairy Queen, Burger King, and more get into the spirit of things by offering free french fries (most often, with purchase) or special deals on fries. Following these guys on their social media accounts (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat) are great ways to get the full details!
Houlihan’s, BurgerFi, and Wienerschnitzel are three other nation-wide restaurants that also like offer things like free refills or fries with purchase. Don’t forget to check out your favorite local fry stop, as well!
It's More Fun With Your Friends!
Whether you’re stopping by McDonald’s or your favorite local restaurant on National French Fry Day, it’s undoubtedly more fun to celebrate with your friends and family than without. Schedule a fun fry celebration now, but don’t forget to share this article so that everyone’s well versed in proper fry celebration trivia!
Fun And Easy French Recipes To Try
There are as many ways to enjoy french fries as there are people, it seems, so don’t be shy about trying a new french fry dish on National French Fry Day! Below are some fun and easy recipes to try for the big day.
We put chili on rice, pasta, Fritos, and now it’s on french fries, too!
1 bag frozen french fries (unseasoned), prepared according to package directions
2 cans chili, warmed (or use your mom’s favorite homemade chili recipe!)
Toppings such as shredded cheese, sour cream, green onions, and jalapenos
Assemble ingredients in a bowl, starting with fries, adding chili, and topping with your favorite toppings. Enjoy!
Healthy Baked Sweet Potato Fries
You don’t have to make fries from Russet potatoes; sweet potatoes are equally delicious and super healthy, thanks to their high antioxidant and vitamin content!
Thinly slice potatoes lengthwise and spread evenly on one or two baking pans (leave room for fries to breathe; don’t stack!). Toss with olive oil, so fries are well coated and sprinkle generously with sea salt. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and cook for ten to fifteen minutes on each side till cooked all the way through and crispy on the outside.
Enjoy with ketchup!
French Fry Nachos
Who says nachos only work well with chips? Take National French Fry Day to a whole new level with this delicious pairing.
Toppings: guacamole, shredded cheese, shredded iceberg lettuce, black olives (sliced), jalapenos, green onions, and sour cream
Brown ground beef, onions, garlic, and cumin until thoroughly cooked. Drain. In a large baking dish, assemble fries then top with ground beef and cheese. Broil on high until cheese is melted. Top with your favorite toppings and enjoy!