Who invented French fries? What is its history?

French fries are one of the most popular snacks that we know today. There are dozens of various ways to cook French fries, and you would still get a common taste of the potato. Despite the several styles of preparing this snack, people are all enjoying its perfect crispiness.

This potato snack is not just well-known in the United States, but also many countries around the globe. It may be evident in its name where its origins came from, but its name could be deceiving. There are many claims regarding the origin of French fries, and it isn’t easy to distinguish, which is true. 

Today, French fries are a typical meal in fast-food chains, restaurants, and other food establishments. People eat fries as a side dish for lunch and dinner, but it is most enjoyable when consumed as a snack. 

In this article, we are going to look into the history of French fries, who invented it, and the story behind it. 

The History of French fries

The general belief when it comes to the history of French fries is that it came from France. This claim may be logical since its name includes the word “French,” however, some people claim that the French fries originated from Belgium. Until today, the exact origins of the French fries are still unknown, and several debates emerge about the ownership of this popular snack. 

The French’s claim about the invention of French fries started from the early 18th century, and this is when potatoes aren’t still a standard food in France. Furthermore, people never ate potatoes, and they usually used it as feeds for hogs, since they thought it could cause leprosy.  This belief led to the decision of the French Parliament to ban farming potatoes in 1748.

At the same time, a French army medical officer, Antoine-Augustine Parmentier, is the person whom other people attribute as the inventor of potatoes. During the time, Parmentier also believes in the French notion that potatoes are not edible for humans. And when the Seven Years War came, he became a prisoner in Prussia, wherein guards only gave him potatoes as prison rations. Because of this, the situation forced Parmentier to plant potatoes and eat them regularly. The daily consumption of potatoes made Parmentier realize that potatoes aren’t bad at all, unlike the typical French belief claims.

That is why, when Parmentier went back to France, he became an advocate of potatoes, promoting them to be a regular food source. After several attempts to encourage people to eat potatoes, the Paris Faculty of Medicine finally agreed with the idea of Parmentier and labeled the potatoes as edible for humans in 1772. However, despite the potatoes being edible for humans, they did not allow Parmentier to grow potatoes in his garden. Parmentier exerted more effort in promoting the utilization of potatoes and convincing the people of France to eat them. 

After all the hardship Parmentier went to, it only took a famine in 1785 for the potatoes to gain recognition. This event made the consumption of potatoes famous in France, and it taught the French to cultivate them in vast lands, significantly increasing its supply. 

Due to the massive supply of potatoes, the people of France learned how to make fries, although there is no exact historical record about who invented it or how it started. After the so-called invention of French fries, it rapidly gained popularity across France.

Another claim about the invention of French fries originated from Meuse Valley,  Belgium. Experts state that the poor villagers in this valley used to fry small fish they caught in the river. Fish is one of the primary sources of food for these villagers residing near the river, and they mostly ate it daily. 

However, when winter comes, the river freezes along with the small fish living in it. This season made food scarce to the villagers in Meuse Valley, and without fish, they need to search other food sources to survive winter. It is when the potato made its recognition. 

Instead of the river, the villagers considered going to the farm and started harvesting potatoes. Once they have their hands on the potato, they would slice them up in thin strips and fry them the way they used to fry small fish – creating French fries. 

Moreover, the name “French Fries” came during World War I, when American soldiers stationed in Belgium. The local villagers offered fried potatoes to the American soldiers, which caught their attention.

However, the American soldiers didn’t know the name of the delicious fried potatoes, that is why they decided to call it French fries – since French is the official language of Belgium. 

Several other claims about the origin of French fries are circulating among people. Until today, there is no definite evidence which states the exact reason behind the creation of the potato fries.

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