The true origin of the crispy fried potato will probably never be known
March 14, 2018 1:02 AM   Subscribe

 
I didn’t know the story they’re debunking until they prebunked it at the start of the article.
posted by aubilenon at 1:28 AM on March 14 [22 favorites]


Deep Frying things has been going on a long time, and whatever the origins, "Saratoga Chips" or "Tavern Fries" or whatever they're called are wonderful...
posted by mikelieman at 2:00 AM on March 14


I hope this means they'll stop rehashing the origin story every single time they reboot the series.
posted by kyrademon at 3:11 AM on March 14 [16 favorites]


The Tayto company here in Ireland invented flavoured CRISPS in the 1950s, before that you got your salt or whatever in a separate package.

You're welcome.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 3:33 AM on March 14 [4 favorites]


It's a mixed blessing, GallonOfAlan. On the one hand, ready salted is great and salt and shake is just stupid. On the other hand, we've ended up with the abomination that is cheese and onion. I'm not sure it's positive on balance.
posted by Dysk at 3:58 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]


Cheese and onion is my favourite flavour. I have tried many flavours, in many countries, but that's the one!

Some time ago, we had a visiting Kenyan student to our lab, and we went for lunch with him. I offered him a cheese and onion Hunky Dory (a particularly pungent example of the genre).

I'll never forget his face. It must have turned his stomach, and in what was probably a great effort of restraint to hide his disgust, he said to me, "Please don't be offended if I don't take another one of those."
posted by Homemade Interossiter at 4:46 AM on March 14 [15 favorites]


Huh. Bill Fox, folklorist mentioned in the article, taught my freshman-year seminar in college. It was nominally about the history of Saratoga, but was almost entirely about architecture and not at all about potato chips. I kind of want to go back in time and demand a more potato-chip focused educational experience.
posted by pemberkins at 5:10 AM on March 14 [10 favorites]


Cheese and onion is just nasty. There's a new flavor called "Grilled cheese & onion" around here, which sounds even more horrible, if that's even possible, which I haven't tried even though I am curious about the concept. As much as I love chips, I just can't eat those with onion in the flavor profile, as it seems I don't digest whatever chemical they use for it very well -- I wake up the morning after with a very particular feeling of day-old onion flavoring coating the walls of my stomach. It's vile.
posted by Vesihiisi at 5:12 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]


I just want to share this commercial in case anybody else has the same earwormy feeling about this jingle as I do. I cannot think about potato chip flavors without singing it.

"Cheddar cheese and bacon, sour cream and chives, tasty baked potato, you won't believe your eyes!"
posted by uncleozzy at 5:16 AM on March 14 [5 favorites]


All you people dissing cheese & onion have evidently never experienced the glory of a cheese & onion crisp sandwich on fresh white bread with salted butter.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 5:47 AM on March 14 [9 favorites]


"Cheddar cheese and bacon, sour cream and chives, tasty baked potato, you won't believe your eyes!"

I didn't even need to click the link. Keebler also experimented with tortilla chips in the 80s with another earworm.
posted by Fleebnork at 5:50 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]


I challenge anyone, anywhere, to point out a more quintessentially English sentence than GallonofAlan's most recent (as of this post) contribution to this thread.

Bravo, sir, Bravo.
posted by Fraxas at 5:57 AM on March 14 [2 favorites]


I challenge anyone, anywhere, to point out a more quintessentially English sentence

(Looks sideways at GallonofAlan's mention of Ireland, a few comments up.)
posted by rory at 6:04 AM on March 14 [4 favorites]


I refuse to even be in the same room as an opened bag of cheese and onion crisps. The fucking smell...
posted by Dysk at 6:13 AM on March 14 [2 favorites]


As I remarked in a previous thread along these lines, there is basically three origin stories for all signature dishes:

1) improvisation to please a fussy customer
2) it was a hard time, so we made do
3) idiot kitchen staff can't follow directions

And basically they're all lies, except that the second one is sometimes close to the truth.

It's still a better variety than cocktail origin stories, since apparently every cocktail you've ever heard of was invented to placate weary travelers whose airplane was grounded due to inclement weather.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:20 AM on March 14 [20 favorites]


salt-and-vinegar tayto crisps are basically made from the laughter of angels
(so it only stands to reason that the cheese-and-onion ones are basically made from demons' farts)
posted by halation at 6:20 AM on March 14 [11 favorites]


It's still a better variety than cocktail origin stories, since apparently every cocktail you've ever heard of was invented to placate weary travelers whose airplane was grounded due to inclement weather.

That, or to render shitty prohibition era booze somewhat palatable.
posted by Dysk at 6:27 AM on March 14 [7 favorites]


Living in Ireland, you don't come across many who express their hatred of the cheese n onion.

"But!", I would say to them who were repulsed, "But have you ever tried Snax!? An abstraction of the noxious crisp?"

https://taytocrisps.ie/products/
posted by Homemade Interossiter at 6:38 AM on March 14


Salt and Vinegar crisps = Blue packet
Cheese and Onion crisps = Green packet

Anything else is against the laws of god and man.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:41 AM on March 14 [3 favorites]


I kind of prefer potato flavored potato chips.
posted by octothorpe at 6:45 AM on March 14 [4 favorites]


I kind of prefer potato flavored potato chips.

These exist: autumnal fire baked potato flavor.
posted by Vesihiisi at 6:51 AM on March 14 [2 favorites]


@fearfulsymmetry Oddly it is the other way round in Ireland for domestic brands like Tayto and King. Let's not fall out over it.

We can at least agree that Prawn Cocktail flavour crisps are always in a pink bag.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 6:52 AM on March 14


As the turned and cooked in the oil the chips were visited by a string fry. And the fry said unto them, "Look upon yourself, for you are plain and without ornament." And lo, they looked upon themselves and were ashamed. So, as they tumbled forth from the basket they chips became All-Dressed. And it was good.
posted by meinvt at 6:56 AM on March 14 [9 favorites]


So, as they tumbled forth from the basket they chips became All-Dressed.

In case anyone is as confused as I am: All-Dressed "combines the potato chip flavors of barbecue, sour cream and onion, ketchup, and salt and vinegar" and yeah, no.
posted by Vesihiisi at 7:39 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]


1) improvisation to please a fussy customer
2) it was a hard time, so we made do
3) idiot kitchen staff can't follow directions


4) Hilarious explosion and hungry firefighters?
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:51 AM on March 14 [2 favorites]


In case anyone is as confused as I am: All-Dressed "combines the potato chip flavors of barbecue, sour cream and onion, ketchup, and salt and vinegar" and yeah, no.

Oh my god, are you kidding?! No! All-Dressed are legit the best potato chip flavor ever! Don't listen to Vesihiisi, you guys.
posted by holborne at 7:53 AM on March 14 [4 favorites]


I've never had a barbecue chip that didn't taste awful.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:55 AM on March 14 [2 favorites]


All-Dressed is the most popular chip flavour in Canada, by a long walk.

On the other hand, we also have/have had grape, orange and ketchup flavours, so I don't know that innovation is always the best thing.
posted by bonehead at 7:57 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]


We're also apparently to blame for the recent "clear potato chip" fad.

(They're not really chips.)
posted by bonehead at 8:00 AM on March 14


I've never had a barbecue chip that didn't taste awful.

You've never had a Walker's Barbecue Beef* then.



*AKA God's Own Crisp
posted by GallonOfAlan at 8:15 AM on March 14 [2 favorites]


Around these parts the first alternative to basic salted chips is a rather chemical approximation to serrano ham, but the lemon juice and black pepper chips from Mercadona are strangely addicting. Not as much as vinegar and salt but I'll take anything that comes close to that.
posted by sukeban at 8:17 AM on March 14


Sour cream and onion is my fav, and they just don't eat them in China. The green bags are fucking cucumber flavour.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:22 AM on March 14


Cheese and Onion crisps are the best thing about visiting Europe! I will try any food that is equal parts familiar and novel at least once, unless it involves ketchup or cucumber. Here in Minnesota we have Dill Pickle chips, made by Old Dutch, and I once brought a bag across the country to a friend who missed them so much. My mother worked at Old Dutch in the late 60s and tasted the chocolate potato chips they were working on.
posted by soelo at 8:30 AM on March 14


Roast chicken crisps or GTFO.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:00 AM on March 14


On the other hand, we also have/have had grape, orange and ketchup flavours, so I don't know that innovation is always the best thing.

The only problem with ketchup chips is that they usually don't put enough flavouring on them. They're second only to S&V chips with so much vinegar that they give you mouth ulcers.
posted by GuyZero at 9:18 AM on March 14


Salt & Vinegar with Cheese & Onion Sandwiches ftw.
posted by like_neon at 9:24 AM on March 14


1) improvisation to please a fussy customer
2) it was a hard time, so we made do
3) idiot kitchen staff can't follow directions


I suppose "it was late, the chef was hungry, and these were the only ingredients left in the kitchen" is a variation of #2.

And I continue to live in hope that if I mention the cong you bing-flavored potato chips I once had in Japan in every potato-chip-related MeFi thread, it will someday be noticed by a snack flavoring scientist.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:25 AM on March 14 [2 favorites]


Hedgehog flavor, anyone?
posted by aesop at 9:38 AM on March 14


For U.S. folks, Martin's does some nice chips, including barbecue and spicy chips, if that is your kind of thing. I on the other hand prefer the unadulterated chips made by Good's, in all their "buttery" salty glory (and they do mail order).
posted by gudrun at 10:13 AM on March 14


If you like potato chips details this podcast interview might interest you.

Brendan O'Donohoe of Frito-Lay talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how potato chips and other salty snacks get made, distributed, and marketed. The interview follows an hour-long tour of a local supermarket where O'Donohoe showed Roberts some of the ways that chips and snacks get displayed and marketed in a modern supermarket. The conversation is a window into a world that few of us experience or are even aware of--how modern producers and retailers make sure the shelves are stocked and their products get noticed.

posted by srboisvert at 10:22 AM on March 14 [3 favorites]


Local pubs here in New England (and I assume elsewhere) do "Irish Nachos" - freshly cut and fried chips, loaded with melted cheddar and bacon (sometimes shepherd's pie style minced lamb) and sour cream. It's pretty gross.

On the other hand, Cape Cod Salt & Pepper kettle cooked chips, with plain old sour cream as the dip, are very, very, very good for watching sporting events with a beer.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:41 AM on March 14


It's pretty gross.

Does "gross" mean "awesome" now? Because it's awesome.
posted by uncleozzy at 10:43 AM on March 14 [5 favorites]


The only time before this I was told the origin of the potato chip was from some motivational speaker. He left out all of the names, and in his version the potatoes got sent back like 4 times before the cook got frustrated. I was supposed to inspired to demand perfection, but all I could think was Christ, what an asshole.
posted by ckape at 10:52 AM on March 14 [3 favorites]


Does "gross" mean "awesome" now?

I mean, that basically sounds like a baked potato you'd get from Chili's, except the potato is julienned and fried instead of baked whole. In other words, delicious, and probably not that much worse for you than any other type of pub food.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:15 AM on March 14


If you like puddles of grease on your plate... and on your placemat, napkin, lap, shirt, date... it's considered "finger food", you see.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:18 AM on March 14


I dunno, the ones my local makes aren't particularly greasy. The chips are sometimes a little bit over-cooked, but that keeps them crispy so you can actually pick up some toppings with them. Also the meat is (really good) Guinness chili and it's 🔥🔥🔥
posted by uncleozzy at 11:22 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]


I am enormously fond of Calbee seaweed-flavored potato chips. Cheese and onion crisps are also superb.
posted by faineg at 11:23 AM on March 14 [2 favorites]


The only problem with ketchup chips is that they usually don't put enough flavouring on them.

Have you had Herr's version? Pretty damn good.
posted by Splunge at 11:32 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]


Irish Nachos are neither Nachos or Irish, but they are delicious, esp. with jalapeños. I cannot bring potato chips (American chips) home because I will eat all the chips and want more. Just potato chips, with salt, of course, are perfect and need no dressing up. However, Salt and Vinegar, BBQ, Sour cream and Onion are all delicious. Between this thread and the cake one, I have a feeling dinner will be chips, then cake, then more chips, etc., until there are no more chips or cake.

I have seen haggis-flavoured chips in a store, but I noped.
posted by theora55 at 11:34 AM on March 14 [4 favorites]


Haggis is a lot like any sausage-type food, hot dogs, black pudding, etc. -- delicious if you don't think too much about what it is.
posted by elsietheeel at 11:44 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]


I've certainly heard the story before, but as per ckape, the individual names were removed, and there were multiple iterations of the chips not being thin enough before the chef pulled his "so there." There's nothing in the debunking that rules out some variation on the story, just the details of individuals and exact year, so I could easily imagine some customer wanting thinner chips and an either frustrated or simply amenable cook.
posted by Four Ds at 3:44 PM on March 14


Having worked in a restaurant where fried foods were prepared, I am pretty sure the real origin is bored cooks throwing random ingredients in the fryer during the slow part of the day.
posted by ckape at 4:00 PM on March 14 [3 favorites]


It’s an exaggeration to say Calbee’s Hot and Spicy are either of those but they taste more like what I want BBQ chips to be than any American chips.
posted by freecellwizard at 4:18 PM on March 14 [1 favorite]


You may be interested in the Grand Unified Theory of Potato Chips, developed by Dr. Stephen Heard to illustrate an often-confusing type of figure called a ternary plot.
posted by pemberkins at 4:29 PM on March 14 [1 favorite]


I have seen haggis-flavoured chips in a store, but I noped.

That reminds me, I was recently in S Korea and didn't see any sundae (blood sausage) flavored chips. Very odd.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 5:20 PM on March 14


We can at least agree that Prawn Cocktail flavour crisps are always in a pink bag.

In Australia there is a different colour code.
Blue = plain salted
Pink = salt and vinegar
Green = chicken
Yellow = cheese and onion
Orange = BBQ

I don't think I have ever seen a prawn cocktail flavour chip.
posted by andraste at 7:37 PM on March 14 [1 favorite]


Cola flavoured crisps are pretty good! I was introduced to them courtesy of Mefi's own davemee in Manchester, where they are sold in every one shop in town.
posted by asok at 5:53 AM on March 15




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