Graphic: Fifty tasty facts about favourite takeaway treat
15:02 17 February 2014
It’s time to celebrate a British institution with 50 fantastic facts about chips (and one truly bizarre fact about crisps). STACIA BRIGGS says chip, chip, chip hooray for British Chip Week, which starts today.
Some fantastic facts about chips:
1 Pinching a partner’s chips is said to be the number one cause of arguments in restaurants.
2 On average, one tonne of potatoes is made into chips every 19.7 seconds in the UK.
3 The total weight of chips eaten each year in the UK is equal to that of about 14,000 blue whales or 4,000 jumbo jets.
4 Fish and chips is the nation’s 10th favourite smell, just behind perfume.
5 The world’s largest portion of fish and chips was made by Fish and Chips Ltd in London in June. The fish weighed 46.75kg and chips 23.5kg.
6 Around seven per cent of the potatoes grown in the USA end up in chip bags sold by McDonald’s.
7 One of the earliest references to chips is in Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, written in 1859, where he refers to “husky chips of potatoes fried with some reluctant drops of oil”.
8 The Americans call chips “French fries” and call crisps “chips”. It’s desperately confusing.
9 Michael Jackson preferred his fish and chips with mushy peas.
10 Research shows that the smell of chips includes several fragrance notes including butterscotch, cocoa, cheese and flowers.
11 The land required to grow potatoes for chips is 33,664 hectares, the equivalent of 47,000 Wembley football pitches.
12 If you laid all the potatoes grown in Britain end-to-end, they would reach to the Moon and back. Three times.
13 More than 250 million fish and chip meals are sold in the UK every year.
14 That’s the equivalent of five portions for every man, woman and child in the country (I am definitely having someone else’s share).
15 The recent National Fish and Chip awards, held last month, crowned Quayside in Whitby, North Yorkshire, as the nation’s best fish and chip shop – our closest contender was The Boundary in Peterborough, run by Bill Shaw and Blair Butler.
16 In one year, the British eat nearly three billion meals containing chips, with lunchtime being the most popular time to eat them (64 per cent) and dinner time the second favourite (24 per cent). Presumably the other 12 per cent enjoy them for breakfast.
17 The British National Federation of Fish Friers was founded in 1913.
18 In George Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier, written in 1937, he claimed fish and chips had “averted revolution”, considering them chief among the ‘home comforts’ that acted as a panacea to the working classes.
19 Marie Antoinette used to wear potato blossom in her dresses. She never said: “Let them eat chips”, though.
20 Fish and chip shops sell around 25 per cent of all the white fish consumed in the UK and 10 per cent of all potatoes.
21 Celebrity chip fans include Rihanna, Kate Moss (really?) and David Walliams. Kate Winslet, Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney and John Terry all served fish and chips at their weddings.
22 The Welsh are more likely than any other region to eat oven chips.
23 Research has shown that chip shops across the country are the surprising heroes of local language with one in six people claiming the chip shop is the place they are most likely to see or hear regional words and phrases.
24 In Leeds, you might order “fish and nerks”, in Glasgow “a poke of chips” while the chip buttie is a “chip stottie” in Newcastle, a “chip barm” in Manchester or a “chip cob” in the Midlands (and there are more – depending on your postcode, it might be a bap, a muffin, a batch or a bechdan).
25 More concerningly, 30 per cent of people from Southampton and 27 per cent of Londoners have never tried a chip buttie. Good sense prevails in Manchester, however, where only seven per cent of people HAVEN’T enjoyed the marriage of chip and bread roll.
26 A “spud” is actually the narrow, flat spade often used for digging up potatoes.
27 More than 53 per cent of people said the smell of fried fish helped them to relax – the science involves an aroma triggering a mouth-watering sensation in preparation for digestion.
28 People in the south prefer salt and vinegar on their fish and chips.
29 Notting Hill and Chelsea can lay claim to the poshest fish and chip shops in the country – alongside cod and chips at Geales you can also choose crayfish salad with beetroot, bacon and goats’ cheese (£9.50. Without chips).
30 Here are five of the best fish and chip shop names in the UK: New Cod on the Block, Sheffield; Chip in Dales, Otley; Codrophenia, Sheffield; Frying Nemo, Carlton; A Fish Called Rhondda, Ton Pentre.
31 Those living in the Midlands are the most likely to choose curry sauce or cheese to top their chips.
32 In 1931, fish and chips were so popular that a shop in Bradford had to employ a doorman to control the queues.
33 A survey of 1,000 adults revealed that “chip shop chips” are the nation’s favourite chips with nearly half of all respondents putting them first.
34 The French fry is most popular in London.
35 This fact isn’t really about chips, it’s about crisps – but it’s just too good to leave out. The man that invented the Pringles can, Fredri J Baur, died in May 2008 and his cremated ashes were buried in a Pringles can.
36 Cannabis-like chemicals in the body called endocannaboids are triggered by eating chips which scientists believe is one reason why it’s so difficult to walk past a chip shop without being seduced.
37 Fish and chips were served in newspaper until the 1980s when it was ruled unsafe for food to be touching newspaper ink.
38 Not wishing to ruin the magic, but you’re more likely to find “non-brewed condiment” on a fish and chip shop till than you are to find vinegar. Non-brewed condiment is acetic acid mixed with colourings and flavourings and is quicker to make than vinegar.
39 The longest-running fish and chip shop still in operation is based near Leeds and, not unreasonably, is called The Oldest Fish and Chip Shop in the World.
40 An average portion of fish, chips and peas contains 7.3 per cent fat. A pork pie has 10.8 per cent fat. Fish, chips AND a pork pie would probably not be a healthy option.
41 Dedicated chip bags were first marketed in 1910.
42 Fish and chips played a vital role in the D-Day landings: British soldiers identified each other by crying out “fish!” and waiting for the response of “chips!”
43 On an equally patriotic note, fish and chips were excluded from rationing during the Second World War (we can thank The Territorial Army for this – its troops prepared for action on fish and chips provided in special catering tents erected at training camps in the 1930s).
44 Winston Churchill referred to fish and chips as “good companions”.
45 A survey showed that most women believe fish to be the likeliest dish to put them in the mood for seduction (the polar opposite is true for me).
46 A Mori survey revealed that 30 per cent of Britons crave fish and chips when they are abroad.
47 The machine used for peeling potatoes in the chip shop is called a rumbler.
48 The nation’s favourite fishy accompaniment to chips is – surprise, surprise – cod, with haddock the next choice.
49 When the Downham Fryer in Downham Market had a new fryer delivered, it was so big that the front wall had to be removed in order to fit it into the shop.
50 This Christmas, a chip shop in Preston raised the (deep-fried Mars) bar when it started serving deep-fried mince pies, Ferrero Rochers and battered Christmas puddings. For summer, Mister Eaters Eating Emporium serves deep-fried Tunnock’s Teacakes and cheesecake.