Facts About French Fries We Didn't Know Before

Oct 10, 2021James Montalvo

French Fries are one of today's most beloved fried food. It's almost impossible to pick up a meal at a fast-food restaurant without pairing your favorite burger with a side crispy and tasty fried spuds. They come in various shapes, flavors, and sizes these days. So in honor of this beloved food, here are facts about French Fries you should know!

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MADE FROM POTATOES, DUH

Call them fries, fritters, wedges, chips, or however you like, but one thing is for sure, these delicious finger food are made with real potatoes. Despite there being some dispute that big commercial outlets like fast-food chains make their spuds with synthetic ingredients, you can't make fries without some good old fashioned, fresh from the earth potatoes.

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THEY'RE CUT INTO THEIR SHAPES

For some reason, there are people out there that believe that fries are molded into shape. Well, if you're one of them, I hate to burst your bubble, but fries are actually cut into shape. While early in their introduction to the world they were hand-cut, these days everything is automated and optimized, giving us perfectly shaped cuts of fried potatoes every time. Here's how they were invented!

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THERE'S A DISPUTE ABOUT WHERE IT ORIGINALLY CAME FROM

While they are called French Fries in the US, and it a good portion of the rest of the world, the origins of the deep-fried delicacy are still hotly debated. The French are definitely in the conversation as the delicious dish's creators, but the Belgians are also laying claim to its creation. So... who's right?

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SO WHO'S RIGHT EXACTLY

Fries were a popular dish in France and Belgium in the 1800s. Years later, the first recorded reference to the dish in English called the dish "French Fried Potatoes." Point France! But it's also told that much earlier than this, Belgian's would deep fry potatoes cut into shapes resembling small fish during winter when fish would not be available. We'll just have to take both points with a grain of salt. Here's how the 'French Fries' name stuck.

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BLAME THE SOLDIERS

The delicious deep-fried dish really began to take off when American soldiers stationed in Belgium during World War I got a taste of it. They loved it so much that they took the idea back with them after the war. Since Belgian's also spoke French, they decided to call the food 'French Fries' instead. 

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VARIANTS FOR VARIETY

Today, fried potatoes are everywhere in the world. It's definitely a staple of modern cuisine and a global phenomenon. Many variations of how it's prepared to have flooded the culinary world. Each region of the world and country have their own take on the popular dish. Which one is your favorite?

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DIFFERENT KINDS OF FRIES

French fries come in different looks these days. There are curly fries, potato wedges, crosscut fries, shoestring fries, chili fries, dirty fries, crinkle-cut fries. You name it, and it's probably been made into a variation of the original deep-fried dish. However, as the saying goes, 'nothing beats the original.'

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OLDIE BUT GOODIE

The original straight cut, deep-fried and lightly salted french fries are still the most popular variant of the beloved dish. Millions of people across the globe consume fries on the daily. We've definitely explored how much of it people consume, and there's no place better to look at than the world's leading fast-food chain and top-seller of french fries, McDonald's.

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MICKEY D'S IS THE PLACE TO BE

Since opening in the 1950s, McDonald's has been serving arguably the best fast food in the world. Their traditional hamburgers and cheeseburgers have been reimagined and rebranded many times over as the brand progressed. In all that time, however, one thing has remained a constant, their French fries. 

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HOW MUCH DO PEOPLE REALLY EAT?

To give you an idea of how many French Fries people eat, McDonald's alone uses up about 3.4 billion pounds of potatoes a year to meet the ever-growing demands of their customers. Remember, that's just McD's. Boy, people really love french fries, eh?

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THEY'VE STAYED THE SAME

In the US, McDonald's French Fry has stayed the same for over 60 years. When you step into a McDonald's branch anywhere you go around the US; you're sure to get the same kind of food. The company has made sure that it performs perfectly for decades to be able to do this. Around the world, things are pretty different.

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VARIES AROUND THE WORLD

In different parts of the world, McDonald's has different offerings when it comes to its menu. This is to adapt to the culinary preferences of foreign markets. Take, for example, the fact that the company's french fries have fewer ingredients in the UK than in the US. There's also the iconic Twister Fries that pop up around the McDonald's branches around the globe every now and then.

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FOUR TYPES OF POTATOES

Though most of McDonald's recipes are kept secret and under lock and key, we know that they use four different kinds of potatoes to make their iconic fries. The company uses Russet Burbank, Russet Ranger, Umatilla Russet, and Shepody potatoes. The question of how is a secret left to the food-techs, though they've done their best to share.

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19 DIFFERENT INGREDIENTS

As part of a previous ad campaign called 'Our Food, Your Questions,' McDonald's released a couple of videos with Mythbuster's star Grant Imahara. In the video, Grant revealed that the US version of McDonald's fries contains 19 different ingredients. This raised a lot more questions and was the source of headlines, but let's be honest, do we really eat fast-food for the health benefits?

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WHY DO THEY ALWAYS LOOK ALIKE? 

Have you ever wondered why every french fry from McDonald's is always so evenly cooked? It's like they all came out of a cloning machine. Actually, the fries are dipped in sugar and sodium acid pyrophosphate to get the fries to cook evenly. So it's not culinary magic, but the science of food that's behind it.

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BEEFY FRIES

Earlier versions of McDonald's french fry recipe saw the fries being cooked in beef fat. Later on, as the company looked to optimize costs, the recipe switched over to tallow or lard. Still, as time went on, lard became expensive, and the recipe had to evolve once more. By 1992, McDonald's started using vegetable oil. But that doesn't mean it's vegan friendly.

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NOT VEGAN FRIENDLY

Despite the fact that the fries are no longer cooked in animal fat or lard, the McDonald's french fry still isn't' vegan friendly. Especially for super strict vegans. Before being sent to branches all over the US, hints of beef fat are added to the fries in the par-frying process by the restaurant's suppliers. So if you're a vegan or vegetarian, be warned. 

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SECOND HEALTHIEST

WebMD's The 'Recipe Doctor' once went on to rate the best and worst fast-food fries. Sharing her findings, it was revealed that among 14 fast-food restaurants, McDonald's ranked second healthiest. Coming second to Sonic Drive-In, McDonald's scored the second-lowest in calories per serving and lowest in fat and 'bad fats' (saturated and trans fat) per serving as well. 

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YOU CAN GET THEM SALT-FREE

If you wanted it, you could order your fries salt-free at a McDonald's. Just ask the staff politely and nicely, of course, and they'll cook you up a new batch. Some people even go to these lengths to get a fresh batch of fries. But really only do this if you need your fries to be salt-free; otherwise, you're just troubling the staff. Do you really want to bet that person?

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WALKING THEM OFF

Do you know how long it takes to walk off a serving of french fries? A small serving of McDonald's fires has 220 calories. So it would take an hour to walk them off, or run for 20 minutes, or bike for 30 minutes. Enjoying a large serving of fries would mean you'd need to double your workout time. So if you're looking to burn off some weight, better keep that in mind.

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MOST POPULAR AROUND THE WORLD

With American food, aka burgers, and fries, being the 7th most ordered cuisine around the world, it's no surprise the people around the globe are mad about french fries. In the US, McDonald's french fries are the most popular item on the menu. Yes, it's not the big mac, nor is it your beloved double cheeseburger.

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What is your favorite way of cooking french fries? Do you like them curly, spiced, or topped with a whole lot of cheese and bacon? Let us know in the comment section. Do you know anyone who's just mad with love for French Fries or McDonald's? Why not share this article with them. Don't forget to stay locked into Amomedia for more great content like this! 

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