The Truth About America's 'Freedom Fries' Movement

Flashback to 2003: the United States was on the brink of a war with Iraq. Internationally, the potential invasion didn't have everyone's support, specifically that of France (via NY Daily News). But it was an unlikely food that took the brunt of America's frustration with the French: the French fry.

Restaurants across America began rewriting their menus to include freedom fries instead of French fries, and the same went for French toast, which became known as freedom toast. This movement all began in an unlikely place: the cafeteria at the United States House of Representatives. The switch was implemented by two representatives, who even held a press conference to announce the changes (via CNN).

"This action today is a small, but symbolic effort to show the strong displeasure of many on Capitol Hill with the actions of our so-called ally, France," said Representative Bob Ney, a Republican from Ohio (via CNN).

Pardon our French

If this all sounds a little ridiculous to you, you're not alone. A French embassy spokeswoman released a statement upon request from the press. "I wonder if it's worth a comment. Honestly. We are working these days on very, very serious issues of war and peace, life or death. We are not working on potatoes," she said (via Mental Floss).

CNN reported that not everyone in the House cafeteria agreed with the change. "That's completely ludicrous to me," one man said.

"Daily Show" host Jon Stewart discussed the issue of freedom fries by seemingly questioning the lawmakers. "As war approaches, as hundreds of thousands of troops put themselves in harm's way, the House of Representatives has busied itself by changing the names of menu items in their cafeteria," he said (via Vice).

In hindsight, speculation on how necessary the name change has perpetuated. "My history teacher just told us about how the United States once called French fries 'freedom fries' to spite France. Please tell me he's joking," one current high school student wrote, perĀ Mental Floss.

He's not joking, however, in 2006, the cafeteria at the House of Representatives discreetly changed the menu item name back to French fries (via Vice).