It’s safe to say that potatoes are one of the most popular foods in the United States. From potato salad to potato skins, there’s a whole range of styles and applications to consider, but there’s one in particular that reigns supreme.
The French fry.
Surveys show that of all the types of potato dishes, nearly a fifth of all Americans rank French fries in the top spot over all other potato dishes, and we tend to agree. But what is it about this classic American – uh, French, or is it Belgian – dish? According to the French, the first fries were sold on the Pont Neuf bridge over the Seine in Paris in 1789, which coincidentally, or maybe not, was the birth year of modern France.
Looking for some more fry facts?
Though the Guinness World Record for the largest serving of fries was 1,003 pounds at Twin Oaks Fars in Idaho, the average American only consumes about 30 pounds of fries annually, and of all the variations, the curly fry is the overwhelming favorite.
Here’s a quick list of French fry variations with brief descriptions according to Wikipedia:
• Carne asada fries – Fries covered with carne asada, guacamole, sour cream, and cheese. • Cheese fries (UK – cheesy chips) – Fries covered with cheese. • Chile fries – (not to be confused with chili fries) Fries topped with green chili peppers, common in New Mexico. • Chili fries – (not to be confused with chile fries) Fries covered with chili con carne. • Chili cheese fries – Fries covered with chili and cheese. • Chorrillana – A Chilean dish consisting of a plate of french fries topped with different types of sliced meat, sausages, and other ingredients. • Crinkle-cut fries – Also known as "wavy fries", these are cut in a corrugated, ridged fashion. • Curly fries – Characterized by their helical shape, cut from whole potatoes using a specialized spiral slicer. • Curry chips – Fries covered in curry sauce, a popular item served by chip shops in Ireland and Northern England. • French fry sandwich – Such as the chip butty and the Mitraillette. • Oven fries – Fries that are cooked in the oven as a final step in the preparation (having been coated with oil during preparation at the factory), often sold frozen. • Potato wedges – Thick-cut fries with the skin. • Poutine – A dish consisting of fries topped with cheese curds and light brown gravy and principally associated with the Canadian province of Québec. • Shoestring fries – Thin-cut fries. • Steak fries – Thick-cut fries. • Sweet potato fries – Fries made with sweet potatoes instead of traditional white potatoes. • Tornado fries – Spiral-cut potatoes that are placed on a skewer and then deep fried. • Waffle fries – Lattice-shaped fries obtained by quarter-turning the potato before each next slide over a grater and deep-frying just once.
As you can see, there are two basic ways in which fries are differentiated and classified. The first is the shape and how they're cut. From spiral and waffle to think and thin, the way a potato is presented is key to the fry primer.
The second real differentiator is the toppings. Chile, cheese, meat -- whatever you decide to put on top of your fries can make a huge difference in how they're enjoyed. The bottom line is get creative and have some fun!
At Pitco, we don’t play favorites. We know there’s a time and a place for each type of fry, whether you like them loaded or simply salted. But if you don't like fries, tell us what you do like!