"French Fried Potatoes" myth (from Paris, Texas of course)

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Thu Dec 7 23:51:28 UTC 2006

Tomorrow, I'll take a ten-mile trip to San Marcos and Texas State  University 
and check out Frank Tolbert's Dallas Morning News columns on Fletcher  Davis 
(of Athens, TX) and the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair and the supposed  
invention of the "hamburger." Then, I'll tell the Texas legislature the  story.
I noticed that I can no longer get "19th century U.S. newspapers" through  
CUNY because that trial subscription ended. Any "hamburg(er) sandwich"  there?
The cites below are interesting. Fletcher Davis, from his stand at the  1904 
fair, was supposedly serving some fried potatoes the Paris (TX) way, the  New 
York Tribune reporter thought they were Paris (France) way to make potatoes,  
and that mistake gave us "french fried potatoes." "The name stuck," it's  
reported. Never mind that I found "french fried potatoes" in the 1880s.
These food myths never end!
by Bob  Bowman
He was interviewed by a New York Tribune reporter who was intrigued by the  
hamburger and the fried potatoes he served with the sandwich at the World's  
Fair. Fletcher told the reporter the sandwich was his idea, but said he learned  
to cook the potatoes that way from a friend in Paris, Texas. Apparently the  
reporter thought Fletcher meant Paris, France, and reported that the hamburger 
 was served with wonderful "french-fried potatoes." 

The name stuck, and  history has forever given the wrong Paris the credit for 
french  fries.

June 16-22, 2002
(Bob Bowman is author of Pioneers, Poke  Sallet and Politics with Archie 
McDonald. It is available through the East Texas  Historical Association, 
Another story about the origins of the ubiquitous burger states that in the  
late 1800's Fletcher Davis, a potter in Athens, Texas, wasn't selling enough  
pottery. Therefore he opened a lunch counter. His specialty? A ground-beef 
patty  served between slices of home-made bread. In 1904 Davis went to the 
World's Fair  in St. Louis, Missouri, with his recipe, which was, of course, a big 
hit. At the  Fair the ground beef sandwich was deemed the hamburger, because in 
Hamburg,  Germany, ground beef patties were popular, though the patties there 
are more  like meat loaf and lack a bun. (It is believed that 19th-century 
German sailors  learned about eating raw shredded beef, “Steak Tartare,” in the 
Baltic  Provinces. A German cook eventually had the idea of cooking the 
Tartare  mixture.) 
Fletcher Davis is also credited with serving fried potato strips at the  
World's Fair. A friend in Paris, Texas, had given him the  idea, but a reporter 
thought that Davis said “Paris, France,” and those  potatoes are forevermore “
French Fries.” 

A Social, Political and Cultural  Appreciation of the French Fry 

By Charles  Ebeling 
Presented on October  31, 2005
At the St.  Louis World’s Fair of 1904, a potter from Athens, Texas named 
Fletcher Davis, who wasn’t selling  enough pottery back home, opened a lunch 
counter. He served potato strips there,  an idea from a friend back in Paris, 
Texas.  But a reporter thought he’d said “Paris, France,” and thus another legend 
took  root regarding the origin of the name.     
href="http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=80R&Bill=HCR15">Texas  Legislature Online</a>
        Bill:   HCR 15    Legislative Session: 80(R)  Council Document: 80R 
583 MMS-D      _Add  to Bill List_ (javascript:alert('Please login to access 
this feature.'))   | _Add  to Alert List_ (javascript:alert('Please login to 
access this feature.'))   
    Last Action: 11/13/2006 H Filed      Caption Version: Introduced  Caption 
Text: Designating Athens, Texas, as the Original Home of  the Hamburger.      
Author: Brown, Betty      Subjects: Resolutions--Official 
Designations--Miscellaneous  (I0719)
Actions:  (descending date order)    Description Comment _Date_ 
  Time       Journal Page  H  Filed   11/13/2006  

12 July 1979, Chicago <i>Daily Herald</i>, Sugar 'n Spice, pg.  4?:
DALLAS (UPI) -- Texas historian Frank X. Tolbert says the inventor of the  
American hamburger was the late Fletcher "Uncle Fletch" Davis of Athens,  
Henderson COunty, Texas. No questions allowed.
With that swallowed whole, Tolbert staged a contest to celebrate the 75th  
anniversary of the event. The contest might -- but, emphatically, not yet --  
come to rival Tolbert's own chili cookoffs and world championship in the fall. 
"Historians have long agreed that the first hamburger sandwich was  
introduced by an 'unknown purveyor' at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair," said  the 
contest announcement. "Not until Frank did his research in Athens was it  
positively established that Uncle Fletch was the man."
Tolbert said the original recipe included a half-pound meat patty on a  
toasted bun with mustard, pickles, lettuce, tomato and onions.
Yankees in New Haven, Conn., are convinced Louis Lassen served the first  
burger in America at his establishment there in 1895.
Tolbert admits Lassen served something -- but not a hamburger.
"That was sliced beef," Tolbert said. Kenneth Lassen, who now presides over  
the cubbyhole that is Louis' Lunch -- seating capacity, 28 -- emphatically 
says  it was not sliced beef. He says the burgers served there today were cloned 
from  the 1895 mode.
In Albion, Ohio, people attribute the invention to Frank Menches. They say  
he ran out of sausage at the Summit County Fair in 1892 and substituted the  
first hamburger.
If the two foregoing claims are to be believed, Uncle Fletch's effort comes  
in third.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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