No, Arby's Didn't Invent The Iconic Curly Fry

While curly fries might be synonymous with the fast food chain Arby's in much of the public's minds, Arby's didn't invent the iconic curly fry. It's unclear just who exactly did, but evidence exists indicating that these quirky potato spirals date as far back as the 1800s. A recipe for curly fries that is believed to be 190 years old was discovered in a 19th-century cookbook authored by Mary Randolph called, "The Virginia Housewife" (via Fine Dining Lovers).

Arby's wasn't the first restaurant to serve curly fries either. That distinction most likely belongs to an Oklahoma City establishment called Dolores Restaurant and Drive-In, which was slinging a version of curly fries in the 1940s. The Idaho Potato Commission cites as evidence a 1940s Dolores Restaurant ad that ran with the then precursor to the IPC, Idaho Russet Potatoes, depicting curly fries and claiming to be the home of what they had dubbed "Suzi-Q fries" (per Idaho Potato Commission).

Tis' the seasoning

Arby's wasn't founded until 1964, and curly fries didn't actually appear on the scene until 1988, when they were introduced as Curly-Q Fries (via Zippia). But even prior to that, New York Magazine references a Washington business named TaterBoy that offered a product called Curley Fries that the company launched in 1985. While Arby's may not have invented the curly fry itself, it is possible that they were the first to apply Cajun-style seasoning, amping up the curly fry game a notch and giving its fries their distinctive flavor.

Of course, these days, there are plenty of fast food places and other restaurants featuring their own rendition of seasoned curly fries on the menu and a dizzying array of fry styles — from the waffle fries of Chick-fil-A to the skinny classic fries of Steak n' Shake. Still, Arby's curly fries placed a respectable seventh on our list of 23 Fast Food Fries Ranked from Worst to Best. And now, you can even buy them in the frozen foods section of your grocery store and warm them up yourself should you feel so inclined. However, Arby's no longer just sells the curly fries for which they have become known. The company switched things up in March 2021 when it unveiled crinkle-cut fries as a new permanent menu item (via QSR Magazine).