Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
"Freedom fries" was a short-lived name used in the United States for french fries. The "freedom fries" affair was an unusual example of anti-French sentiment in the United States. In the international debates over the decision to launch the 2003 invasion of Iraq, France expressed opposition to the US insistence on military action.
On March 11, 2003, Representatives Robert W. Ney and Walter B. Jones, Jr. declared that all references to "french fries" and "French toast" on the menus of the restaurants and snack bars run by the House of Representatives would be removed. House cafeterias were ordered to re-name french fries as "freedom fries". This action was carried out without a congressional vote, under the authority of Congressman Ney's position as Chairman of the Committee on House Administration, which oversees restaurant operations in the house.
According to a statement released by Ney, this move was a symbolic effort to express displeasure with France's "continued refusal to stand with their U.S. allies" (see Iraq disarmament crisis). The statement further read: "This action today is a small, but symbolic, effort to show the strong displeasure many on Capitol Hill have with our so-called ally, France."
The French embassy made no comment, except to note that French fries are Belgian. "We are at a very serious moment dealing with very serious issues and we are not focusing on the name you give to potatoes," said Nathalie Loisau, an embassy spokeswoman.
Congressmen Ney and Jones, however, were not the first to re-name french fries as freedom fries. A number of private restaurants across the country started the renaming movement. Neal Rowland, owner of a privately owned fast-food restaurant Cubbie's in Beaufort, North Carolina, decided to sell his fried potato strips under the name "freedom fries." Rowland claimed that his intent was not to slight the French people, but to be patriotic and support President George W. Bush. Many of Rowland's customers were among the local military troops.
The word play is reminiscent of anti-German sentiment during the First World War in which sauerkraut was renamed liberty cabbage, and hamburgers were transformed into liberty steaks. (Even the German measles got a new name: liberty measles.) This similarity is intentional: Rowland described a conversation about these renamed foods during World War I as the inspiration for "freedom fries."
Despite the symbolic change, it did not take hold in any meaningful way. Many Americans refer to french fries simply as fries, so the leading adjective is largely ignored anyway.
Previous attempts to rename food during wartime have been largely unsuccessful, with one notable exception being the change of frankfurter to hot dog during World War II, although frankfurter is still recognized, but not commonly used.
Other examples were filete imperial ("imperial beef"), an euphemism for filete ruso ("Russian beef") appearing in Spain after the triumph of the anti-Communist General Franco, and kafe elliniko ("Greek coffee") replacing kafe turkiko ("Turkish coffee") on Greek menus after the Turkish-Greek collisions of the 1920s.
French kissing, French poodles, French dip sandwiches, and American character actor French Stewart were not renamed freedom kissing, freedom poodles, freedom dip sandwiches, or Freedom Stewart, though some political satirists referred to them as if they had been. However, French's (makers of mustard, french fried onions, and other foods) was sufficiently concerned to issue a press release affirming its patriotism.
- Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierté le French kiss!
- (We eat French fries, but above all we French kiss with pride!)
- Federal France-Bashing Standards & Guidelines - From whitehouse.org parody web site (not whitehouse.gov).
- House restaurants change name of 'french fries' and 'french toast' - CNN Report
- House Office Buildings To Serve "Freedom Fries" - Press release from Congressman Walter Jones
- House Office Buildings to Serve "Freedom Fries" - Press release form Congressman Bob Ney
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