British vlogger, Patrick Foote took it upon himself to unravel the delightful mystery behind why what the Brits affectionately dub as chips, the Americans enthusiastically label as fries (cue the French connection), and what the Yanks boldly proclaim as chips, the Brits charmingly refer to as crisps.
The fundamental distinction between the traditional British chip and its American counterpart lies in the structural composition of their respective potatoes. While a standard American fry, with its relatively slender form, may struggle to attain chip status, the distinguishing feature of the British chip is its notably thicker cut compared to most American fries. There is a prevailing belief that these robust British chips bear a closer resemblance to American home fries than conventional slender fries.
The thickness of the British chip not only sets it apart from the sleeker American fry but also contributes to a heartier and more substantial texture, creating a delightful synergy when paired with the crispy exterior of fried fish. The debate over chip thickness aside, it is the shared commitment to the art of frying potatoes that unites these culinary counterparts in delivering a satisfying and indulgent experience.
Legend has it that a disgruntled American diner, staring down at his fries with a frown, exclaims, “These are too darn thick!” The ingenious chef, not one to back down from a culinary challenge, takes a spud and slices it so thin it practically flirts with transparency. Behold, the birth of the Saratoga chip, the original gangster of potato chips. Meanwhile, across the pond, our friends in Britain decided to be a tad rebellious and opted for the term “crisps” because, well, the chip boat had already sailed, and it was reserved for the chunkier version.
Apparently, during the First World War, American soldiers stationed in Belgium came across these potatoes cooked in a way that they had never seen before. They liked them so much that they brought them back to the USA with them and adapted the name of frites into fries. They specifically called them French fries because the part of Belgium they came from spoke French.
These crispy delights eventually hopped across the Atlantic, bringing joy to the UK, but alas, they faced an identity crisis. Calling them chips was out of the question, given that chips in Britain were already happily married to fish. We can’t have confusion in the chip aisle, can we? So, after much noodling around, the ingenious name “crisps” was coined to distinguish these thin delights from their starchy relatives.
And there you have it, the saga of how chips, fries, and crisps played a spirited game of culinary musical chairs on both sides of the Atlantic. So, the next time you’re munching on a bag of crisps or dipping your fries in ketchup, just remember, language can be as flexible as a gymnast doing the splits – and just as entertaining!