FARGO — This Saturday, July 13, marks French Fry Day among this week's unusual holidays.

America seems to have a love affair with the fry, with the average American consuming upwards of 29 pounds of them a year. So clearly, when the fast-food worker asks, "Do you want fries with that?" our answer often seems to be "yes."

But have you ever wondered why they're called french fries? Could a country that gave us refined dishes like coq au vin, boeuf bourguignon and creme brulee also have given us something we slather in ketchup in a cardboard container? The answer is probably not.

It's more likely the french fry has been misnamed all of these years, in part because of geographically challenged American soldiers.

According to food historians, the fry is credited with being invented in Namur, Belgium, as early as 1680, when a cold winter froze the nearby lake where they harvested the tiny fish they would fry for dinner. As the story goes, with no fish to fry, residents chose instead to fry little slivers of potatoes. However, some historians say that story has likely been embellished over the years, as the potato wasn't even introduced into the region until the 1700s and residents would not have wasted precious fat to fry anything. Still, the legend persists.

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But that doesn't explain why it's called the french fry if all of this might or might not have happened in Belgium, not France. That's where the American soldiers come in. The soldiers ate and loved the potatoes while stationed in a French-speaking part of Belgium. When talking to family back home, many mistakenly called them "French" fries and the name stuck, according to another theory.

Either way, the french fry is one of our favorites. Happy French, er, Belgian Fry Day!

Other holidays this week

  • Monday, July 8: Chocolate with Almonds Day
  • Tuesday, July 9: Sugar Cookie Day
  • Wednesday, July 10: Pina Colada Day
  • Thursday, July 11: Mojito Day (learn how to make them at home on Inforum.com this Thursday)
  • Friday, July 12: Eat Your Jell-O Day
  • Saturday, July 13: Beans 'n' Franks Day
  • Sunday, July 14: Mac and Cheese Day