The Spicy History Of Andy Capp's Fries

Those who like a little heat in their salted snacks might be familiar with Andy Capp's Hot Fries. For anyone who has never grabbed a bag of these crispy sticks, the brand's website describes them as a potato chip alternative. Though Hot Fries may be one of the better-known members of Andy Capp's lineup, there are other flavors such as ranch, cheddar, and BBQ. According to Candy Retailor, the cheddar version could make a good sandwich pairing. (And for folks who use chips to "crunchify" burgers ala Bobby Flay and Sunny Anderson, perhaps snack fries could serve as a crunchy substitute.)

All of Andy Capp's products are recognizable from the packaging featuring a cartoon man outfitted in a red, plaid driving cap. While most snackers will probably deduce — if they haven't already — that this hatted fellow is the Andy Capp, they may not know that Mr. Capp had an interesting existence before appearing on fry packaging. In fact, people were reading about Andy Capp in the newspaper long before they saw his image on snack bags at 7-Eleven.

Andy Capp got his start in a comic strip

Unlike his feline rival Chester Cheetah, who was designed by the DDB Needham Worldwide advertising agency to be the mascot of Cheetos (via The New York Times), Andy Capp was already a cartoon character when Andy Capp's snacks came into the picture. According to The BBC, Capp made his debut in 1957 in the northern edition of England's Daily Mirror newspaper. As the outlet explains, he is a "layabout lout" who Homer Simpson referred to as a "wife-beating drunk." Capp's creator later showed remorse for the character's misconduct towards his cartoon spouse.

It wasn't until 1971 that Andy Capp's fries were created to sell in the United States (via Candy Retailer). Today, the brand is owned by Conagra Brands, which also counts Slim Jim, DAVID Seeds, and Orville Redenbacher in its portfolio (via Conagra). Conagra has helped Andy Capp's brand evolve with the times, and in 2019 the Wall Street Journal reported that the company was kicking off the marijuana-celebrating holiday 420 by releasing a "fully baked hot munchies" version of Andy Capp's due to the popularity of the snack among cannabis indulgers. From the comic strips to chip clips, Andy Capp's had quite the history, and it will be fascinating to see if and how the brand keeps up with the giggles 50 years from now.