French Fries and How They Are Made

The core reading is Eric Schlosser’s “Fast Food Nation: Why the Fries Taste Good”. Eric Schlosser was born in Manhattan, New York, he spent his childhood there and in Los Angeles, CA. Schlosser studied American History at Princeton University and earned a graduate degree in British Imperial History from Oxford. Schlosser is known for his bestselling book, “Fast Food Nation”. Schlosser helped make his book into a film directed by Richard Linklater. I find this reading is a combination of genres. A biography talking about John Richard Simplot’s life growing up and how he became to make French fries.

You can also say it is a research review, because the editor is writing about going to these different places and seeing how they go about producing French fries. I also see it as a personal essay, the editor’s personal experience by going through the different places and explaining in detail what he sees and smells. When reading this article I find the reading to be about John Richard Simplot. John Richard Simplot was born January 4, 1909 in Dubuque, Iowa. He was often called Jack. The way he grew up and how it came about him starting his own business and becoming successful.

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John Richard Simplot left home at the age of 14 and started working at a potato farm and eventually became a potato farmer himself. In 1940 J. R. Simplot became the largest shipper of potatoes in the west, operating thirty-three warehouses in Organ and Idaho. John Richard Simplot was named the “America’s Great Potato Baron”. Later he got into selling onions; he also sold dehydrated onion powder where he recalled it was like “gold dust”. 30 miles west of Nampa, John Richard Simplot owns 85,000 acres of his own irrigated land. He grows beets, wheat, alfalfa, and onions.

John Richard Simplot loves onions just as much as potatoes. In 1941 he bought a prune dehydrating machine and started dehydrating onions. He would dehydrate 300,000 pounds of onion powder and 200,000 pounds of onion flakes for a company in Chicago. In return he made $600,000 in the first year. Eventually he would figure out how to flash freeze a French fry to last longer in order to sell major quantities to restaurants that came around 1953. According to Ray Kroc who wrote in his memoir, “The French fry [was]…almost sacrosanct for me, its’ preparation a ritual to be followed religiously. So with that said John Richard Simplot offered to build a factory strictly for McDonald’s fries. They agreed upon this and went to work. McDonald’s began to sell the French fries the following year. No one knew the difference. The French fry eventually became the most profitably item on the menu. John Richard Simplot became the 89th richest American in Forbes magazine’s 2007 list (3. 6 billion) by seizing opportunities. His business included fertilizer, oil, animal feed, seed, beef cattle, and ski resorts from Chile to China. I find this biography very interesting.

Even though I have eaten a lot of French fries from McDonald’s in my time, I never quit understood who made them and how they were made. Yes I knew they are made from potatoes, but never knew the process. It is always fascinating to hear about the people who make things and how they grew up and went about making them. It was very interesting to hear about how John Richard Simplot handles his company when going through WWII. They would eventually call it “the Golden Age of Food Processing”, in the words of historian Harvey Levenstein.

Eric Schlosser, as he is writing this and you are reading it, it feels as though you are there beside him and going through the whole experience with him. I would have to agree with everything he wrote here. For one, I would not know the difference and two, he wrote a lot in detail to make the reader understand where he was coming from. He explains that the factory where J. R. Simplot plant resides in Aberdeen, Idaho is a small plant according to industry standards but it processes about a million potatoes a day.

Can you imagine that many potatoes going through a factory, I can’t even fathom. I never realized how much Americans eat potatoes or eat French fries in their life time. That is a lot of potatoes. I find John Richard Simplot a very giving man. Over the years he has built 20 soccer fields, eight baseball diamonds, grass hockey fields and much more. For a man to give back to the community is absolutely great. He went from being a 14 year drop out to becoming a billionaire. That doesn’t happen that often. The Nation lost a very powerful man on May 25, 2008. He will never be forgotten.

Works Cited

Schlosser, Eric. “Why the Fries Taste Good. ” Fast Food Nation. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2001. 26 March 2010. 4 pages. Web. PBS. 5 July 2010. Martin, Douglas. “Farmer Who Developed First Frozen French Fries, at 99”. The New York Times, 2008. 28 May. 1 page. Web. The New York Times Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia Hadley, C. J. “Mr. Spud. ” Range, Cowboy Spirit on America’s Outback. 1998. 1998-2005 Range Magazines. Web

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French Fries and How They Are Made. (2017, Mar 13). Retrieved from