Archive for the ‘history’ Category

From an article in the Roseville Press Tribune:

It’s amazing the popularity of the French fry in this country. The average American consumes more than 140 pounds of potatoes annually, and 51 pounds of those are French Fries. More than 6 million pounds of potatoes are processed into frozen fries every year.

If you think McDonald’s and Burger King are waging a war for your burger buck, think again.The success of fast food chains is not about big burgers. Instead, it’s all about the small fry.

In 1997, Burger King – the nation’s second-biggest hamburger chain – invested $70 million in marketing might behind its new and improved French fries, claiming they were tastier than those from McDonald’s.
The public disagreed, and McDonald’s fries remain at the top of almost any poll on the subject.

McDonald’s, in its early years, spent countless hours in search of the perfect French fries. In 1957, the company opened a research lab dedicated to turning the production of French fries into a science.

A potato computer – still used to this day – was developed. The device monitors the temperature of the frying oil and notifies the operator when a batch of fries is cooked to perfection.


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Heinz and the rediculous “Funky Fries” fiasco.

This is a classic example of a company trying to improve upon something that is more than good enough as it is.

Back in 2002 Heinz decides to shake things up by introducing a new line of french fries.


From CNN Money:

Beginning in May, H.J. Heinz Co. will ship a new line of Ore-Ida frozen potato products called Funky Fries featuring five new shapes, colors and flavors, all intended to give kids even more say over their parents’ grocery store lists.


The new products include French fries flavored with sour cream and chives, or cinnamon and sugar, and a new product called Crunchy Rings – basically Tater Tots with a hole in the middle. Then there’s Kool Blue – a sky blue seasoned French fry, and Cocoa Crispers — a brown chocolate fry designed “for kids with a sweet tooth.”

I didn’t even know these fries existed, but maybe that’s because they were only on the market for a year before they were yanked from the shelves.

From CNN Money:

Consumers never warmed up to these odd fries and a year later Heinz is pulling them off the shelves and blaming disappointing sales of the product as one reason for its fourth-quarter profit miss.

“Kids already like the plain french fries,” said Marilyn Raymond, director with New ProductWorks, a Michigan-based product marketing consultancy. “Why try to make them more friendly to kids?”

“What bothered me the most were the chocolate fries,” Raymond added. “What was Heinz thinking? Chocolate in french fries is so different that consumers found no cord of familiarity with it. There aren’t even chocolate-flavored potato chips out there.”

Sad. Sad. Sad.

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Belgian Fries

From Wikipedia:

Jo Gerard, a Belgian historian, recounts that potatoes were already fried in 1680, in the area of “the Meuse valley between Dinant and Liège, Belgium. The poor inhabitants of this region allegedly had the custom of accompanying their meals with small fried fish, but when the river was frozen and they were unable to fish, they cut potatoes lengthwise and fried them in oil to accompany their meals.”

The Belgian way of cooking frites is generally in two stages.

First fries are ‘pre-fried’ (‘voorgebakken’ in Dutch) for about 6 to 10 minutes in oil or – traditionally – beef fat preheated to about 130 to 160 °C, to cook the inner part without burning the outside, while most of the moisture is driven out. Then they are taken out, tossed to avoid clumping, and generally allowed to cool down. This intermediate product can be either frozen for “instant” deep-frying later, or as several batches of “pre-fried” fries prepared (e.g., when fries stands are opened for the day, or at home ahead of a company of guests) for rapid frying and almost simultaneously serving later.

The second stage involves frying for about two to four minutes in oil or beef fat preheated to 175 to 195 °C (as high as the oil or fat can safely stand: a too high temperature breaks it down to rather poisonous compounds).

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The Chip Truck (AKA chip wagon, lunch truck)

I think one of the earliest Fry related experiences I can remember was a family outing with my Mom and Dad to the chip truck beneath the Blue Water Bridge in Point Edward Ontario. I was only 5 or 6 but the pungent aroma of vinegar soaked french fries (a lot of Canadians like vinegar on their fries) is fresh in my memory. The Chip Truck is called ‘Albert’s Rolling Lunch’ and its been in business there since 1957. You should go, really, you can thank me later. Fantastic fries, made fresh, from real potatoes, right in front of you. Trips to Albert’s turned into a regular family excursion and also a battle for the crispy fries that settled to the bottom of the fry carton. Albert’s fries were key in making me the french fry fiend I am today. True story.

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