There are few foods that have been eaten at some point by just about everyone in the Western world, but French fries are one of them. Call them fries, call them chips, call them frites — whatever you call them, fried potato sticks are one of the most universally beloved junk foods on earth. Here are six things we bet you didn’t know about them.
Nobody Can Agree on Where They Were Invented
The French, Spanish, and Belgians all claim that they were the sole inventor of fries. Belgian fry lovers claim that they’re called “French fries” because all Belgian food is appropriated by the French; the French claim that street vendors on the Pont Neuf bridge were the first to sell them, in 1789; and the Spanish claim that, as the first European country to bring potatoes from the New World, they have a historical argument for inventing them.
British Chips Are Thicker Than American Fries
You might think that chips and fries are identical save for the name, but visit a traditional British chipper and you’ll see that they couldn’t be more different. Chips are cut much thicker, are slightly soggier, and actually contain less fat than American fries because of their thickness.
They Contain More Acrylamides Than Just About Any Other Food
Acrylamide, a chemical compound that develops when starchy food is cooked at a high temperature, is considered a potential carcinogen by the U.S. government and has been shown to cause tumors in the adrenal glands, thyroid, and lungs when consumed in high concentrations. In a 2002 study, the World Health Organization determined that the intake level for toxicity was 500 times higher than in the average diet, but more studies are being conducted.
McDonald’s Has a Lock on the Market
About 7 percent of all the potatoes grown in the United States are turned into McDonald’s fries. The chain sells more than one-third of all fries sold in restaurants.
Thomas Jefferson Introduced Them to America
Jefferson served “potatoes, fried in the French manner” at a White House dinner way back in 1802.
Don’t Steal Your Boyfriend’s Fries
Taking French fries off of a significant other’s plate is supposedly one of the most common causes of lovers’ quarrels at restaurants.