20+ Intriguing True Facts About French Fries! (with Sources)

French fries are the most popular fast food item in many countries, including the United States. While there is some dispute over who invented them and which country makes the best fries, there’s no dying that they are widely popular around the world.  

French fries have a colorful history, including a dispute of where they originated. Many sources say they were invented in Belgium, but the French say they created them. Thomas Jefferson made french fries popular in America because …

Want to find out?

Keep reading to discover many fascinating facts about french fries. 

These are 20+ facts about French fries.

1. French Fries Have a National Holiday.

July 13th is “National French Fry Day,” but no one seems to know why. It might be related to the fact that National Bastille day is the next day on July 14th.

2. French Fries Were Invented in Belgium (Though the French Dispute That!).

Belgium claims they gave the world french fries because of using potatoes during the winter in place of fish. While France claims that a prisoner of war invented the french fry while imprisoned. 

3. Fries Are Known by Many Names.

Fries are not fries in England, but chips. In Belgium and France, they are frites. In other countries, they are known as “American Fries.” India calls them “finger chips.”

4. Belgians Are Obsessed With Fries.

Fries are a staple food in Belgium and has been for centuries. They love fries so much that for them eating frites is quite a unique experience.

5. America Owes French Fries to the Third President.

Thomas Jefferson worked with the Minister of France for a time and loved the fries they served. After coming back to the States, he insisted his chef keep making them for him. Eventually, they caught on with the public as a beloved side dish.

6. McDonald’s Sells More Fries Than Many Other Fast Food Joints.

If you were to ask anyone on the street what they loved about McDonald’s, most answers would be “french fries.” McDonald’s sells more fries than many other fast-food restaurants in the world. About 7% of the American’s potato crops go to McDonald’s for their fries. 

7. French Fries Have Some Nutritional Benefits.

While french fries are mostly empty calories, they do have some nutritional benefits. Potatoes contain magnesium, vitamins B6 and C, as well as iron. 

8. Fries Come in All Sizes, Shapes, and Flavors.

Once upon a time, fries used to come in one shape and flavor only. Today, however, they come in many different forms, including the famous curly fries. They are also seasoned in many ways, from regular salt in fast-food restaurants to exotic herbs in higher class restaurants.

9. French Fries Are Fried Twice.

Most restaurants fry their french fries twice to get them cooked through and to create that crisp outer shell that appeals to so many people. 

10. Vending Machines in Some Countries Sell French Fries.

Australia was the first country to sell french fries out of vending machines in 1982. Mr. French Fry, as the machine was known, cooked and dispensed the fries in under a minute. Today, these machines exist in China, Belgium, Israel, Slovakia, and the Netherlands. 

11. North Dakota Hosts the Largest French Fry Feast.

North Dakota hosted their first Potato Bowl football game in 1966, along with a full week celebrating the humble potato. The french fry feast is the highlight of the week where thousands of people gather each year to eat french fries. 

12. French Fries Came About to Replace Fish in Winter Months.

Belgians loved their fried fish, but when the winter cold froze the rivers and lakes, they had to give up their favorite food for a while. Instead, they sliced potatoes into thin strips and fried them like fish.

13. Belgium Has a Museum Dedicated to French Fries.

The Frietmuseum in Belgium is dedicated to their beloved french fry history, complete with two levels. Visitors can learn about how to make fries the traditional way at home, and they can sample some old-fashioned recipes.

14. Fries Depend on Fat to Give Them Flavor.

The type of fat used to fry the fries is what gives them their unique flavor. If beef tallow is used, then fries will have a beefy flavor, which McDonald’s used until the early 1990s when it was banned.

15. Fries Got Their French Nickname in World War I.

American soldiers who were stationed in Belgium in World War I began calling fries “French Fries” because that was the language the Belgians spoke.

16. Every Country Has Their Favorite Condiment for Fries.

Condiments are a must when eating fries, but every country seems to favor a different flavor profile. In the US, it is ketchup, then Ranch dressing. In Europe, it is mayonnaise, but in England, it is Malt Vinegar. France, however, favors aioli and Dijon mustard.

17. McDonald’s Fries Are Made With Sugar.

Perhaps the reason why McDonald’s fries are so famous is that they are sprinkled with sugar (dextrose) before they are fried. Sugar creates a crisp and crunchy texture that many people enjoy so much.

18. French Fries Are Cheap Meal Extenders.

Since the introduction of french fries to the world, they have been served with meals to save restaurants money on portion sizes of the main entree. Potatoes, rice, and other cheap grains serve an economic purpose for restaurants.

19. French Cooks Don’t Make the Tastiest Fries.

Just because fries have the French name doesn’t mean that French cooks are known for making the tastiest fries.

20. Toddlers Love French Fries.

Many toddlers prefer french fries over ‘real’ vegetables, but it hasn’t always been that way. Before the 1900s, kids ate what their parents ate, and since french fries were a once-in-awhile treat for adults, toddlers didn’t eat them that often either.

21. One of the Longest Fries Was Found at a Hot Dog Stand.

In 2010, John Benbenek discovered a 34-inch french fry served by the Taffy’s Hot Dog stand in Buffalo, NY.

22. Waffle Fries Are Not Made With a Waffle Iron.

Waffle fries are not made in a waffle iron, contrary to popular opinion. They are cut with a specialized mandolin attachment and were first invented in 1985.

23. According to a Harvard Professor, Six Fries Should Do. 

The recommended serving size is about six fries, according to one Harvard professor. However, most servings include at least 50 fries, which is what most people expect.

All in all

French fries have come a long way since they were sliced and fried in place of fish for those early Belgians. They have evolved into fast food and fine dining, and everything in between.

The colorful history of french fries shows just how popular they are and how versatile they can be. They can be served alongside a delicious burger, or used as a base for chili. Whatever your preference, the humble french fry is here to stay.