French fries (North American English), chips (British English), french-fried potatoes, or simply fries, are deep-fried potatoes, disputed origin from Belgium and France. They are prepared by cutting potatoes into even strips, drying them, and frying them, usually in a deep fryer. Pre-cut, blanched, and frozen russet potatoes are widely used, and sometimes baked in a regular or convection oven; air fryers are small convection ovens marketed for frying potatoes.
French fries are served hot, either soft or crispy, and are generally eaten as part of lunch or dinner or by themselves as a snack, and they commonly appear on the menus of diners, fast food restaurants, pubs, and bars. They are often salted and may be served with ketchup, vinegar, mayonnaise, tomato sauce, or other local specialities. Fries can be topped more heavily, as in the dishes of chili cheese fries. French fries can be made from sweet potatoes instead of potatoes. A baked variant, oven fries, uses less or no oil.
In the United States, the J. R. Simplot Company is credited with successfully commercializing french fries in frozen form during the 1940s. Subsequently, in 1967, Ray Kroc of McDonald’s contracted the Simplot company to supply them with frozen fries, replacing fresh-cut potatoes.
In 2004, 29% of the United States’ potato crop was used to make frozen fries – 90% consumed by the food services sector and 10% by retail. The United States is also known for supplying China with most of their french fries as 70% of China’s french fries are imported. Pre-made french fries have been available for home cooking since the 1960s, having been pre-fried (or sometimes baked), frozen and placed in a sealed plastic bag. Some fast-food chains dip the fries in a sugar solution or a starch batter, to alter the appearance or texture. French fries are one of the most popular dishes in the United States, commonly being served as a side dish to entrees and being seen in fast food restaurants. The average American eats around 30 pounds of french fries a year.