National French Fry Day
YOUR GUIDE TO NATIONAL FRENCH FRY DAY
French fries are that extra-special food that gives zest to life. Great on their own and even better as the sidekick to your favorite burger, french fries are a beacon of comfort thanks to their starchy, greasy, salty, potato-y goodness. National French Fry Day is July 13, giving you a chance to celebrate and appreciate your favorite fried potatoes and all they have to offer.
WHEN IS NATIONAL FRENCH FRY DAY?
National French Fry Day falls on July 13th every year. That day is a Thursday in 2023 and a Saturday in 2024.
ARE FRENCH FRIES ACTUALLY FRENCH?
French fries aren’t actually French in origin (neither is French toast!). In fact, most sources suggest that french fries most likely originated from Belgium.
So why are they called “french fries” and not “Belgian fries”? The most commonly accepted reason: the dominant language in the southern Belgian region of the Meuse Valley (where they were discovered) was French.
Another explanation has nothing to do with language or place of origin. Some sources posit that the “french” part of french fries refers to the method of cutting the potatoes. The french cut, which isn’t all that different from a julienne, gives you the long, stick-like form of a french fry that also allows for quick, even cooking.
WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF FRENCH FRIES?
The story goes that, as far back as the late 1600s, villagers in South Belgium typically ate fried fish for many of their meals. During one particularly cold winter, the River Meuse that winds through the region froze solid, which meant fishing was out of the question. Looking for a substitute, the villagers cut up the potatoes that they had and fried them instead, creating the french fry we know and love today.
While they were likely created several hundred years ago, french fries didn’t gain in global popularity until much later. American soldiers were introduced to these fried taters when they were stationed in Belgium during World War I. The soldiers referred to the food as “french” fries because of the primary language of the region.
ARE FRENCH FRIES VEGAN?
It’s a common question among the health conscious and those with dietary restrictions, but it’s not really a simple answer. For the most part, yes, french fries are vegan, with a large “but.”
At their most basic, french fries are considered vegan-friendly. They’re just potatoes, and unless you’re stuffing those potatoes full of hot dogs and ground beef (we’re not here to judge!), potatoes are vegan. However, many restaurants fry those potatoes in animal fat, which is decidedly not vegan.
Rest assured that our classic hand-cut Chipperbec Fries are 100% vegan. Several of Hopdoddy’s shareable fries do contain dairy products or non-vegan ingredients, but thankfully, you can always customize your orders to fit your mood or dietary lifestyle. Hopdoddy’s cooks can adjust dishes to be vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, keto, and beyond.
FRENCH FRIES AROUND THE WORLD
While french fries are a well-known staple of American food, other cultures around the world also celebrate this delicious snack. National French Fry Day may only be an American holiday, but the french fry’s many international versions are a testament to its ubiquity and importance to people around the globe.
America: Burgers & Fries
One of the most American meals out there, a good burger with a side of fries is the classic combination that needs no introduction. Whether you alternate between burger and fries or save all your fries for last, there’s just no denying the way that fries help to round out a hefty cheeseburger.
Arguably one of the most recognizable dishes of our neighbors to the north, poutine is a delicious dish that combines french fries and cheese curds topped with gravy for a rich, gooey bit of goodness that sticks to your guts. It’s iconic enough that Canada has its own annual National Poutine Day on April 11th.
UK: Fish & Chips
Nothing quite captures the essence of UK cuisine like fried fish (usually cod) and chips. Add in a few dashes of vinegar for acidity and a pint of your favorite beer, and you’ll be singing sea shanties with the best of them.
Gyros are a type of sandwich wrap traditionally filled with lamb, beef, or falafel along with tomatoes, onions, and yogurt sauce, all within a pillowy pita. It’s not uncommon to stuff french fries into the wrap for added starchy goodness.
Kenya: Masala Chips
“Chips” here refers to the British name for fries. This popular dish in Kenyan restaurants comprises french fries tossed in a tomato-based masala sauce. That gives a bright, spicy kick to the fries that’ll have you reaching for more.
Salchipapas are a popular street dish across all of South America, particularly Peru. Originally developed as a working person’s food, salchipapas is a fairly simple dish that tops fries with sliced sausage, ketchup, mayo, and salsa. The name is a combination of the two main components: sausages (salchicha) and potatoes (papas).
Tanzania: Chipsi Mayai
Chipsi mayai is a popular street food in Tanzania. The name chipsi mayai comes from Swahili for chips (chipsi) and eggs (mayai). Imagine an omelet with french fries and you’ve got a clear idea of chipsi mayai. Add in some vegetables, chili sauce, or other condiments for a dish that is close to perfection.
Belgium: Moules Frites
It’s probably not surprising that Belgium’s national dish also contains french fries. Moules frites (sometimes “moules et frites”) is a simple combination of mussels and fried potatoes. Preparation of the mussels varies from region to region, but commonly involves mussels steamed in a rich broth of white wine, butter, and shallots (it’s okay, we’re also drooling just thinking about it). For a quicker side, Belgians will also enjoy their frites with mayonnaise.
5 Fun French Fry Facts
If you’re in need of fun fry trivia, we have you covered. Here are a handful of surprising facts about french fries to break the ice and impress your friends.
- While World War I led to the larger popularization of french fries, the fried potatoes made one of their first appearances in America thanks to the third President of the United States. The story goes that, during a White House dinner in 1802, Thomas Jefferson reportedly asked for french fried potatoes.
- The average American reportedly eats 29 pounds of french fries every year. It’s okay if you think that’s an underestimate (we do!).
- Not to be outdone, Belgium’s per capita french fry consumption is about one-third more than America’s.
- Charles Dickens is the first person to refer to french fries (or “chips”) in English literature with a mention of "husky chips of potato, fried with some reluctant drops of oil” in his classic novel A Tale of Two Cities, published in 1859.
- Russet potatoes are by far the most popular potatoes used to make french fries.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN FRENCH FRIES
While recipes will vary and depend on your preferences, french fries are fairly easy to make at home if you have the right ingredients and equipment. We use specific chipping potatoes, but the next best option are dense russet potatoes—avoid using waxy potatoes like fingerling and red potatoes. We also recommend estimating 2–3 large potatoes per person to determine how much you'll need.
- Once you have your potatoes, the first step is to slice them into strips about ½” thick.
- Next, you'll soak them in cold water to remove the starch (at least an hour, but the longer you soak them, the crispier the fries will be).
- After soaking, rinse twice with cold water and pat the potatoes dry.
- Heat your oil to 300°F and fry the potatoes in batches for 5–6 minutes.
- Remove each batch with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel.
- Increase the oil's temperature to 400°F and fry in batches again, this time for about 5 minutes.
- Remove each batch again and place on a paper towel.
- Sprinkle the fries with salt immediately.
- Wait for them to cool, and you're ready to serve your own french fries.
BEST SEASONINGS & TOPPINGS FOR FRIES
With your fries all ready, what can you add to make them special for the holiday? Obviously, at Hopdoddy we love to add unique and tasty combinations of toppings and seasonings to give them an extra kick of flavor. Here are some of our favorites that you can add to your fries and take them to the next level:
- BBQ seasoning
- Chili powder
- Garlic and parmesan
- Buffalo sauce and ranch
- Salsa and guacamole
- Marinara sauce, cheese, and pepperoni
- Truffle aioli, mayo, honey mustard, or any of our Hop Sauces