The History of French Fries

Categories: Junk Foods

French fries are something most Americans eat very often. They are cheap and they are very easy to find. They are at almost every fast food restaurant. They are also easy to make and they taste good! The recipe consists of potato deep frying in oil. You can add salt and pepper for taste. You can also eat the french fries with a variety of dressings. Today, the necessity ingredient to make french fries, the potato, is the fifth most important crop worldwide (cipotato.

org). There are over 4,500 different varieties of potatoes! French fries can be made in several different types of oils but the most common kind of oil they are fried in is corn oil (www.potato 2008.org). The invention of french fries is very popular today because of the diffusion of potatoes and oil.

Potatoes were first grown in Peru all the way back in 200 BC. The Incan people always had the potato as a safety net. Potatoes could be freeze-dried and dehydrated (www.

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ers.usda.gov). When Spanish invaders arrived to South America, they found a lot of new things to eat, including potatoes. Back then, potatoes were small and dark. They looked like small peanuts. They were also different colors and bitter in taste. They were good for feeding the slaves and they were good for snacking on the ships. The Spanish took the potato and immigrated it to Europe (Bandrapalli). A couple of years later it migrated to India, China and Japan. Today potatoes are grown is North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

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It is basically grown all over the world. It is also used in many Indian, Thai, Italian and African dishes (www.pbs.org). No one really knows for sure where the recipe for the modern day french fries really came from. The Belgium’s have claimed to have invented the recipe. When the dish was first prepared in the early 1700s, it was called fried potatoes. Thomas Jefferson came back to the United States with a lot of potatoes and served them in the White house as “potatoes served in French manner.” French fries are originally called chips in Europe. In 1918, when American soldiers were stationed in France, they ate a lot of “chips” and they wanted to bring them back home to America. That’s where the name french fries came from (Bandrapalli).

The potato has a long history of ups and downs. It has made many spectacular famous dishes today but the potato has also been the cause some disastrous epidemics. During 1845, there was a huge famine in Ireland. Half of Ireland’s population depended on potatoes. There was a fungus in the potatoes that people farmed. The fungus traveled from Mexico to Ireland. This fungus would cause the potatoes to go all black and slimy just after a few days they were dug from the ground. This was not a natural disaster though, there was some political geography involved. Ireland at the time was ruled by the British. The British wouldn’t allow the Irish Catholics to go under most professions including owning land however they would allow them to rent land. The Irish relied on the potatoes to make a living. Most of the people in Ireland were poor farmers and the best thing that grew easily was the potato. The Irish Catholics didn’t have a lot of money and an acre of potatoes was enough to support a whole family. After the potatoes started rotting, over 750,000 people died from hunger. When the famine continued, people in Ireland started to emigrate. Some Irish people immigrated to America using the idea of Alfred Crosby’s portmanteau biota, bringing the potato with them (www.digitalhistory.uh.edu).

In the modern world, more than fifty percent of potato sales are processed into french fries, potato chips, and other potato products. The remaining percentages of potatoes are sold in the market. Maine, New York and Pennsylvania used to produce the most amounts of potatoes in the United States but when the invention of irrigation systems and railroads developed, states like Idaho, Washington and Colorado started to lead in the production of potatoes (www.ers.usda.gov). Potatoes have increased massively in production because of the diffusion in technology. Technology made labor ten times easier. In the old days, potatoes were dug by hand or a fork. A person could dig about half an acre a day depending on the weather conditions (www.geo.msu.edu). The invention of irrigation systems, potato breeding to make the potatoes larger, increase in chemicals injections such as fertilizers and pesticides and better transportation made it so much easier to harvest. Ninety percent of the potatoes in the United States are planted in the spring and harvested in the fall. Ever since 2005 this has helped the United States a lot because our potato industry brings a trade surplus in potatoes and potato products. Out of all the potato products we create, we export french fries the most (www.ers.usda.gov).

It’s a fact that french fries can be harmful to our diets, however, it can also be harmful to the environment. During production, french fries release a greenhouse gas called CO2E. French fries release about 122 grams during every production. The more greenhouse gas means there is more heat trapped in the earth’s atmosphere. This can affect the weather, agriculture and it can change our ecosystems (nmepscor.org).

Most french fries in fast food restaurants are mostly fried in corn oil. Corn oil was invented around the late 1800’s. It comes from processed corn products (www.eia.gov). Corn is grown all around the world. The US grows thirty five percent of the world’s corn. That is probably the reason why many of our foods have some sort of corn in it. Most of the times our foods usually contain corn starch. Corn is also cheap. That is probably the main reason that we use corn oil in most restaurants to cook french fries (library.thinkquest.org). To season our french fries most people put salt and pepper. Salt is found all over the world. In ancient times, it wasn’t only used for seasoning but it was also used to preserve food. It was valued a lot and also traded for gold sometimes too. There are also many different types of salt’s (Bandrapalli). Pepper has also been highly valued for centuries. It is mostly produced in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil, Madagascar and Sri Lanka. It was also used for trade. People were willing to trade metal for pepper (www.coleandmason.com). Little things such as salt and pepper both benefit french fries by bringing a great deal of taste.

French fries have brought a delightful dish decades ago in many various countries. Today, with the exposure of McDonalds and many other fast food companies, more and more people around the world are being exposed to french fries. It hasn’t only changed people but throughout time people have changed it by adding many dressings and toppings over it. Sometimes, the name french fries is completely changed when a few toppings are added. For example, In N Out has my favorite fries. It also has an item on its menu called “animal fries.”

These fries consist of melted cheese, grilled onion and thousand islands. It tastes very delicious. Diffusion and transformation of the potato and oil have changed the geography of french fries.

Bibliography

  1. Bandrapalli, Suman. “Where do French fries come from?.” Christian Science Monitor, May 02, 2000., 18, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed December 2, 2012).
  1. “Corn.” ThinkQuest : Library. http://library.thinkquest.org/TQ0312380/corn.htm.
  2. “Digital History.” UH – Digital History. http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/historyonline/irish_potato_famine.cfm.
  3. “Drought has significant effect on corn crop condition, projected ethanol production – Today in Energy.” U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=7770.
  4. “History of Pepper.” Salt and pepper Mills – Good Taste With A Twist. http://www.coleandmason.com/history-of-pepper.aspx.
  5. “How the Potato Changed the World — International Potato Center.” International Potato Center. http://cipotato.org/press-room/cip-in-the-news/how-the-potato-changed-theworld.
  6. “Kids! – International Year of the Potato 2008.” United Nations International Year of the Potato 2008. http://www.potato 2008.org/en/kids/index.html.
  7. New Mexico EPSCORNM EPSCOR. http://nmepscor.org/sites/all/documents/Teaching Materials/WhatsForLunchOutline.pdf.
  8. “Spud harvest.” Department of Geography | Michigan State University. http://www.geo.msu.edu/geogmich/spud_harvest.html.
  9. “The Journey of New World Foods Essays When Worlds Collide PBS.” PBS: Public Broadcasting Service. http://www.pbs.org/kcet/when-worlds-collide/essays/the-journeyof-new-world-foods.html.
  10. “USDA ERS – Vegetables & Pulses: Potatoes.” USDA ERS – Home. http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/crops/vegetables-pulses/potatoes.aspx.

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The History of French Fries. (2021, Sep 16). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/the-history-of-french-fries-essay

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