Don't feel guilty about ordering this side dish that will accompany your hamburger or deli sandwich as we are celebrating National French Fry Day on this July 14th. This is a great opportunity to take time to sample some golden-brown potato slices. But did you know that the origin of French fries is more than likely not French at all? Here's a quick history lesson on how this phenomenon came about:

pile of baby potatoes

Potatoes were being fried in Belgium. When it comes to the tastiest French fries on the planet, everyone seems to have an opinion. It’s a time-consuming decision to find your favorite because no two restaurants seem to have the same recipe. French fries do have a nutritional stigma attached to them, however, due to high-caloric and fat content. But it’s tough to say no to a hot batch, even those located at the bottom of the bag.

Statistics show Americans eat around 30 pounds of French fries per person each year. That seems like a lot, but when you think about all the ways you can eat fries, it adds up quickly. They’re easy to gobble down, whether they’re straight out of a fast-food French-fry container or whether you’re an expert at making fries at home. Add in all of the different condiments, and these simple potatoes become irresistible in nature.

cheeseburger and fries on plate served with beer at restaurant

The term ‘French fries’ refers to deep-fried slices or strips of potatoes, as this delectable item hit the culinary scene sometime in the 1700s. It took an entire century for potatoes to become widely accepted as food, arriving in Europe in the 1600s.

sirloin steak well-done

Like most iconic foods, the French fry has an interesting folk story about how it was created. Belgians call dibs on the origins of French fries, claiming it to be an invention of their people. But all credit does go to the French for popularizing frying foods and selling them in public on street carts called ‘frites,’ in the mid-1700s. Eventually, potatoes were cut in all sorts of shapes and fried.

french fries falling isolated on white background


How did French fries actually arrived in America? There are two versions of that story, too. President Thomas Jefferson brought this dish to the U.S.A. While serving time as an ambassador, our 3rd commander-in-chief spent a lot of time in France and went on to serve “potatoes served in the French manner” at a White House dinner in 1802.

Homemade Meat Gyro with Tzatziki Sauce, tomatos and French Fries

The other theory is that World War I soldiers who were stationed around Dinant in Belgium took a liking to the local finger food known as ‘pommes frites’ and took the idea back with them. It was at the turn of the 20th century when French fries really took off and became mainstream in the United States.

BOTTOM LINE: Take some time and enjoy some fries with lunch or dinner, but remember, moderation is always the key to everything.

(Some information obtained in this article courtesy of

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