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josie's avatar

Did you ever eat French Fries before McDonalds?

Asked by josie (30635points) January 27th, 2011

I know fries were invented before McDonalds. The idea of frying potatoes is centuries old.

And I know the American idea of fries probably came from Belgium after World War I. And since Belgians spoke French, the returning Americans called them French fries.

But my first memory of actually being served, and eating, French Fries is McDonalds.
Where was the first place you ever ate French Fries?

Were they better than McDonalds?

I don’t eat fried food any more, but are there any fries better than McDonalds?

Are there too many questions here?

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55 Answers

WestRiverrat's avatar

A&W is where I ate my first fries.

downtide's avatar

We had proper English chips long before we had French Fries.

faye's avatar

Kresge’s lunch counter, 1958 and on.

Jude's avatar

We have a “Chip truck” where I live. They claim to have The World’s best fries. So, yes, I have.

Mikewlf337's avatar

heck yeah. I love home made french fries.
@downtide Isn’t chips the British version of french fries. I’m sure they existed far before they were called french fries. Are chips different from french fries.

janbb's avatar

Oh yes – French fries were much better before McDonald’s!

Aethelwine's avatar

I’m sure I did, but I honestly can’t remember where I had my first taste of fries. My mother had to feed six children on a budget, so we didn’t eat out that often.

It could possibly have been at Disneyland. We lived near Anaheim when I was two and went to Disneyland several times.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Yup. My aunt would make them for supper on most Saturday evenings. I don’t think I had any McDonald’s until I was 5, and then only ~once a year until I worked there at 16.

I don’t eat them from McDonald’s at all now. If I need a fry fix, I make them myself or go to Five Guys.

charliecompany34's avatar

in my youthful days, we ate at home. grandma would cut fresh potatoes and fry them in oil and season with salt and pepper. the home-cut french fry is so “home.” it takes effort and time. funny how today’s restaurants, diners and food networks keep going back to that table staple as a regenerated flavor of “real” or “home.”

Michael_Huntington's avatar

GQ, I don’t think I’ve ever had french fries before McDonalds.
I don’t even like french fries anymore. It’s all about onion rings for me.

YARNLADY's avatar

We had home fried potatoes long before McDonald’s ever came to Denver. Mom used to let me cut them after she halved the potato. We could also buy them at Woolworth’s lunch counter and White Castle.

Kardamom's avatar

I think I probably had them at either Denny’s or another similar place called Sambos (they were famous for their pancakes, even better than IHOP) or another place called Oscars or Carrows or even Farrell’s ice cream parlor and Swensen’s ice cream parlor. I didn’t eat at McDonald’s until the 70’s. Me and my brother preferred Der Weinerschnitzel on the rare occasions that we went to a fast food place.

Most sit down restaurants (like Applebees and Islands and most barbecue restaurants) have way better fries than McDonalds. I’ve eaten French fries in all sorts of mom and pop diners all over California and Las Vegas and most of the fries were way better than the ones at McDonalds. Also the county fair usually has a stand that cuts them and fries them right in front of you. Delicious! And I love the seasoned curly fries at Arby’s. Even In and Out Burger has better fries. I prefer the fatter kind with the skin still on them.

I’m with @Michael_Huntington Onion rings are much better than fries.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I remember them from the Woolworth’s lunch counter, too, and a little diner/hangout in my hometown. They had a soda fountain and a soda jerk, too. It was very Dobie Gillis-esque.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

My mom would make the kind you bake in the oven.
She didn’t like us much. XD

Seelix's avatar

I don’t really remember the first place I had fries, but it was probably at home. My mom used to make them all the time.

In my hometown there’s a little burger joint called Deluxe, and they definitely have the best fries in the world. I can’t wait to go home at the end of February so I can go there :)

Mikewlf337's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille I bake them in the oven all the time. Quicker and healthier.

josie's avatar

People, we are not talking about French Bakes. We are talking about French Fries. :)

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@josie – Ok then…..I have had French Fries from MD’s but before that we had French Bakes.
My mom was a trickster who doled out punishments by serving those and chicken pot pies.Not to be confused with Apple McPies from McDonalds. ;)

john65pennington's avatar

Donald Duck Drive-In. I was 13 years old and drumming for a living. Nothing like homemade frenchfries and a quart of Pheiffer beer.

josie's avatar

My mom made a great chicken pot pie!!! She thought that since it had chicken and carrots in it, it must be healthy.

She never made French anything (that I know of) exept French toast. ;)

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@josie-My mom never made anything French and she was French. XD

Brian1946's avatar

The first place I remember getting French Fries was at the Bob’s Big Boy in Van Nuys, CA.
I’d say that their fries had a much higher potato content than the hardened fat-sticks that I had at a Texas McD’s last July.

I think the same restaurant chain was called something like Abdou’s in the northeast US.

john65pennington's avatar

Bobs Big Boy is called Shoneys Big Boy in the south.

john65pennington's avatar

I use to make my own french fries at home. I would make a ton of them for Sunday night and to watch the first televison show in color…..........Bonanza.

josie's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille Guess what!? My mom’s “people” came from France. My Aunt, her sister, has done this geneology chart all the way back to the late 1600s and their ancestors came from France. My dad’s ancestors were German. At that point, I suppose they sort of cancel each other out. For the record, I think I am measurably both.

Brian1946's avatar


I remember seeing a Shoney’s in Slidell, LA last July.
Either they dropped the Big Boy part or I didn’t see it.

WasCy's avatar

Mom was buying frozen french fries long before we ever even heard of, much less visited McDonalds.

And I amazed a female friend of mine by showing her how they don’t have to be ‘fried’. Baked french fries are as good as deep fried, in my (and now her) opinion.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@josie-My mom was French/Italian ,my dad French/German.Neither one could cook and passed their lack of skill down to their children.So we made chicken pot pies…..... XD

AmWiser's avatar

Being from a family of 8 (parents and my 5 siblings) we never ate out and my Mom fixed many low budget meals with potatoes and rice being a main staple. I loved Saturdays because we had hotdogs and frenchfrys and homemade punch.

Kardamom's avatar

@Brian1946 had totally forgotten about Bob’s Big Boy! I have actually eaten at that one in Van Nuys!!! I think there is another one in Studio City or somewhere around there that still exists. Maybe that’s the one in Van Nuys I’m thinking of. The combo meal with the big burger, salad and fries was the best!

And @john65pennington reminded me that there used to be a chain of steak houses (that I believe later became Sizzler) called Bonanza that had really good fries! Thanks for the fun memory of that!

Also, my mom occasinally made Tater Tots (or as Dick Van Dyke once called them on his show: Potato Poopies).

I just saw an ad on TV for Wendy’s new fries that are the big fat “homestyle” kind. I could really go for some of those right now with a big old chocolate frosty!

Brian1946's avatar


“had totally forgotten about Bob’s Big Boy! I have actually eaten at that one in Van Nuys!!!”

Wow! I went to VN High. Did you go to a school in the San Fernando valley?
I think we first ate there in 1956.

lillycoyote's avatar

We call ‘em Freedom Fries where I come from, pal, Freedom Fries!!! What are you, @josie? You some kind of French- loving, terrorist-appeasing, commie peace-freak or something? :-)

gailcalled's avatar

I ate hot dogs and french fries at Walter’s, across from Mamaroneck High School, starting in 1951. Amazingly, it is still there and now “one of the iconic hot stands in the United States.”


aprilsimnel's avatar

In Milwaukee, “Big Boy” was Marc’s Big Boy (which are mostly Perkins Restaurants now). We also had Red Barn and Arthur Treacher’s Fish ‘n’ Chips. And what I like to call the REAL Arby’s, not whatever it is now. And Church’s Fried Chicken and Hardee’s. But my fave take-out fries back then were either from Kopp’s Frozen Custard or George Webb.

Tumi's avatar

We call them ‘Chips’ where I come from. And I must have had them first at home, served with peas, carrots and beef. Yum!! Now when I’m in the mood for fries, I run to the local ‘KenChic’ outlet and order a ‘quarter’ (quarter grilled chicken) with chips. Hits the spot like nothing else.

Pandora's avatar

Yes. Home fries.

tedibear's avatar

The first french fries I ate were those that my mom made. She cut the potatoes into thin sticks and left the skins on. Then they were deep fried. Those were, and still are, the best french fries I’ve ever eaten. Steak ‘n’ Shake comes close to making them the way she did, but they’re not quite crispy enough.

Side note: Julia Child liked McDonald’s fries before they switched to vegetable shortening. (You’ll have to scroll down to get to the videos. I’m at work and can’t go to YouTube from here.)

Kardamom's avatar

@Brian1946 No I didn’t live in Van Nuys, but we used to visit my aunt and uncle who lived there. There’s another cool diner that we used to go to somewhere in L.A. called Norms that I think is still there, and there was a place in Hollywood on Sunset Blvd. called Ben Franks (that unfortunately is gone, they had the best chili I’ve ever tasted and great fries!) And one more place that I recall is Hof’s Hut (still there) in Long Beach! Yum!

I wouldn’t mind being a judge in a French fry tasting contest. Yum!

downtide's avatar

@Mikewlf337 English chips are different from French Fries. They’re thicker and softer in the middle. The best chips are crisp on the outside and fluffy-soft inside. (Then you slop gravy on them to make them not crispy any more O.o)

aprilsimnel's avatar

And, if you have the access (Oui, Montréal, nous avons accès à ceci à Brooklyn à grace de cet endroit), you must have poutine! So-called “disco fries” are a travesty.

Kardamom's avatar

@downtide There is a British pub (I’m sure that sounds silly to you, but it’s super-cool and exotic to me) in my town that serves those kind of “chips” that you are describing with some type of home made curry gravy on the side. My goodness they are wonderful! They also serve really good Shepherd’s pie. I’m drooling just thinking about it. They specifically advertise that their pies come with “authentic British mushy peas” I love that! The owners are defintitely from England.

Seelix's avatar

@aprilsimnel – Eight bucks for a poutine? Crazy. And what are “disco fries”?

aprilsimnel's avatar

@Seelix _ it’s when an ordinary NYC diner takes some American “cheese”, some Heinz© industrial-sized can of brown gravy, slops it over some french fries and nukes it.

faye's avatar

Ahh, you make me hungry! Poutine is so good!

downtide's avatar

@Kardamom that curry “gravy” is quite typical with chips in England. More popular than the mushy peas I think.

Shepherd’s Pie is the one thing I can cook really well. It’s the only thing I do which my daughter’s boyfriend says is better than what his mum makes.

Kardamom's avatar

@aprilsimnel and @Seelix I recently discovered that In and Out Burgers have an un-disclosed menu item called “Animal Fries” which is their regular, skin on fries, slathered in melted cheese and thousand island dressing. Some of you will be disgusted, others will be delighted (like me). You can see a picture of this dish here

@downtide do you have a good recipe to make a Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie? I would love that!

gailcalled's avatar

@Kardamom: I bet that “Animal Fries” would also do very nicely for repairing cracks in my driveway.

Seelix's avatar

@Kardamom – The picture looks revolting! :D

Mikewlf337's avatar

@Kardamom That picture looks delicious!

downtide's avatar

@Kardamom That picture looks delicious! I don’t know about vegetarian shepherds pie. I would just substitute soya-protein instead of meat but after being vegetarian for 8 years and then going back to eating meat, I have to say that the veggie version just doesn’t taste as good. The secret ingredients in my shepherds pie are a can of baked beans in tomato sauce mixed in with the meat, and season it with soy sauce instead of salt. Also don’t forget grated cheese on the top.

Mikewlf337's avatar

As a kid I rarely went to McDonalds. Maybe I have eaten McDonalds first and I don’t remember it. I certainly have eaten home made fries more than McDonalds as a kid.

Kardamom's avatar

@downtide I thought those animal fries looked pretty tasty too : ) although I’m embarrassed to admit it

Thanks for the tip about the Shepherd’s pie. I think I would like it okay with fake meat, but I never knew about the baked beans idea. I love baked beans!

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