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'Fast Food' Gaining Popularity in France, Fine Dining on the Decline

'Fast Food' Gaining Popularity in France, Fine Dining on the Decline

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As more people turn to grabbing something on the go in France, fine-dining restaurants are taking a hit

Boulangeries like these are now serving quick meals to people on the go, taking service away from restaurants.

Recently there’s been a major push in French lawmaking to require restaurants to put what’s fresh on their menu. Why, you may ask? French restaurants’ recent tendency towards using frozen foods has been their answer to keep internal fees down because for the first time, people are eating more “fast food” than sit-down meals, according to NPR.

More people are turning to packing lunches or hitting up what’s known as boulangeries, a French word that used to delineate an establishment that made bread from scratch, but now these same places make quick, grab-and-go meals for prices that we could buy a McDonald’s meal for. And fine-dining restaurants are taking a hit, so to keep their fees down they’ve admitted to purchasing and serving factory-frozen foods, thus turning diners away even more.

To protect true French cuisine, Daniel Fasquelle, a lawmaker in the French Assembly, is working to pass a measure that would require restaurants to print a menu detailing what exactly is homemade. The movement as a whole aims to define and ultimately limit what can be called a restaurant, specifying that at least half of the food be homemade to be considered a restaurant.

Fasquelle believes that "France is not like other countries when it comes to cuisine. It's the country of good food, good wine,” so the trend towards food on the run is hurting the French. He as well as others believe that dining is a break, “a moment to enjoy life," and a ritual of sorts that need be honored, and fast food is not the way to do that (at least not in France). If the measure is passed, France can hopefully return to the fine cuisine rituals it knows and loves.

Restaurant Types and Concepts

Today there are many different types of restaurants, from fast food to family casual. The food, service, and atmosphere of the restaurant will change to portray the style or concept of the restaurant. As an example, it is unlikely you will walk into a McDonalds that has white, linen-covered tables, a wine list, and candlesticks. Here is a brief overview of some of the more popular restaurant concepts.

The Decade in Food: Trends from 2000 to 2010

Carrie Bradshaw hits New York City's cupcake mecca Magnolia Bakery on Sex and the City, igniting the cupcake trend. Over the next several years, popular New York- and Los Angeles-based cupcake shops like Crumbs and Sprinkles expand into multi-state franchises local cupcakeries sprout up on street corners galore and by 2009, the number of new cupcake cookbooks reaches what Publishers Weekly calls a "deluge."

Craving mini bundles of cakey goodness? Bake up Martha Stewart's best cupcake recipes.

2001: The Rise of Rachael Ray

In the fall of 2001, America meets accessible Rachael Ray as 30 Minute Meals debuts on Food Network. Today Ray's empire includes her eponymous magazine, Everyday with Rachael Ray a nationally syndicated talk show cookware and branded EVOO (extra virgin olive oil, for those not familiar with the Ray lexicon). As it did with Ray, the Food Network helps propel a new generation of effervescent, telegenic chefs &mdash from Paula Deen to Guy Fieri &mdash to multimedia celebrity over the course of the decade.

After the country suffered one of its worst disasters on September 11, 2001, Americans turned to meatloaf, chicken pot pie, mac 'n cheese, pizza, and all things comforting.

The South Beach Diet: The Delicious, Doctor-Designed, Foolproof Plan for Fast and Healthy Weight Loss by cardiologist Arthur Agatston is published in 2003 and remains on the best-seller list for more than 96 consecutive weeks. Agatston's carbohydrate-reducing plan is just one facet of the low-carb craze sweeping the nation. In February 2004, nearly one in 10 respondents to one survey said they were following a low-carb diet by 2005, that number dropped to 2% and the trend faded.

2004: The End of Super-Sizing

Super Size Me, first-time director Morgan Spurlock's documentary film in which he undergoes a self-imposed experiment to eat fast food exclusively for one month, makes its way to theaters. In the movie, Spurlock's Golden Arches diet leads to a weight gain of nearly 30 pounds, a major hike in his cholesterol level, and other effects ranging from liver damage to sexual dysfunction. Mickey D's ends its super-sizing menu that year.

Coffee Goliath Starbucks achieves world domination as the number of its coffeehouses surpasses 10,000 (today there are over 16,000 worldwide!). Never mind the 50-cent diner coffee: Many Americans' mornings are no longer complete without a $5 venti nonfat Caramel Macchiato and its ilk.

2006: Organic Overflow

The organic food movement goes mainstream in a big way when Wal-Mart jumps on the bandwagon, stocking quality organic products at good ole Wal-Mart prices: just 10% more than their conventional foods. According to the Organic Trade Association, annual sales of organic food hit $24 billion by 2009, a more than fivefold increase from a decade earlier.

2007: Eat Local and Sustainable

Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma is released, revealing the scary truth behind industrial food production in the U.S. and encouraging Americans to source food from local farms. Soon sustainability &mdash limiting one's harmful impact on the earth and environment &mdash and "locavore" enter the mainstream food vocabulary.

Holy whole grains! In 2008 more than 2,800 new whole grain products are introduced to the worldwide market, a 1,658% increase over the year 2000.

2009: Recession Recipes

In the wake of 2009's economic recession, families tighten their budgets by packing brown bag lunches and preparing home-cooked meals. According to a recent Zagat survey, 61% of 6,708 people polled revealed they are cooking more at home as a direct result of the economic downturn.

2010 was the year of the ramblin' restaurant. From Los Angeles to Portland to Austin to New York, food trucks dominated the restaurant scene with forward-thinking flavors.

What's Next?: Jetsons-esque Technology

It seems none of us can function without checking our Blackberrys, iPhones, Kindles, or GPS. Technology is touching every aspect of our lives: supermarkets, kitchens, drive-thrus, and fine-dining restaurants where touch-screen menus are being introduced. Will the iPad mean the end of the paper menu? Only time will tell. But our bet is that diners will be seeing more gadgets at the table in addition to inside their very own kitchens.

French Cuisine Suffers Fast Food as Its Newest Star

Let's leave horse meat behind. In the global capital of gastronomy, the latest food news is giving the French serious indigestion.

McDonald's loves France and vice versa

It's called “a culinary coup d'etat”: In the country that prides itself on its fine cuisine, the fast food industry and its sales of €34 billion last year have for the first time dethroned traditional Gallic restaurants.

According to a recent poll of France’s eating habits to be published in May, fast food - we're talking hamburgers, pizzas, and hot dogs, among other delicacies - swiped 54% of the market last year, a huge jump from 2011, when fast food claimed 40%.

"In previous years, we could see fast food was gaining ground, but this is the first time it has overtaken restaurants where you are served at the table," Julien Jeanneau, of the food consulting firm behind the poll, Gira Conseil, told the Nouvel Observateur.

To the total surprise of its inhabitants, France has become the largest market outside the United States for McDonald's, which enjoyed €4,35 billion in sales, a 4% increase while its main rival, Quick, clocked in at slightly over €1 billion.

The seismic change in the French eating habits in large part is attributable to declining purchasing power in the worsening economic crisis that affects most countries in Europe. Increasingly, consumers prefer to buy cheaper food and save money by not going to restaurants for lunch.

They also have less time. Movies aside, with their images of leisurely cafe and restaurant meals, the survey found that average time spent on a meal in France has dropped from 80 minutes in 1975 to 30 minutes today. Fundamental changes in culture, with workers wanting food delivered to their offices and homes, are also identified as reasons why traditional sit-down restaurants, historically a sacrosanct part of the French way of life, are losing popularity.

Among the dishes preferred comes another surprise: Sandwiches are enormously popular. Last year, sales rose by 6% to more than €7 billion.

A country of 66 million people ate 2.1 billion sandwiches last year, spending an average €3,34 on each one.

The leading fast food company in Canada is Tim Hortons, accounting for 25 percent of the market. McDonald’s and Subway had 11 percent and six percent shares. All three saw its market shares increase, which means that the smaller chains suffered during the period. While burgers remained stable, bakery fast food increased the most. Chicken and ice cream fast foods were the items that suffered the most.

France is known for its fine dining ways. Just mention the words French restaurant and you will immediately think of classy, albeit expensive, dining fares. In reality, even France has seen a boom in fast food dining, so much so that it has now overtaken the overall sales of traditional restaurants in the country, with 54 percent of all revenues. Joints offering burgers, sandwiches, pizzas and the likes have seen sales go up by as much as 14 percent last year. Burger King, which closed down its French operation 16 years ago because it could not gain any traction, has come back with great success. Subway’s branches have increased by 400 stores in the last 10 years. The reasons for this are that the French are now learning to eat alone and that the lunch hours in the country are shrinking. Having a lunch break of only 22 minutes is simply not enough to eat a multi course meal.

Restaurant industry in the U.S. - statistics & facts

In 2019, McDonald's was the leading restaurant chain in the United States and the most valuable quick-service restaurant brand worldwide. With an estimated brand value of approximately 129 billion U.S. dollars and annual sales of over 40 billion U.S. dollars, the global fast-food giant surpassed all other leading burger franchises, including Burger King and Wendy's. In terms of sales, the company also outperformed the most successful fine dining chains in the country. Overall, quick-service restaurants (QSR) have experienced steady revenue growth over the past few years following the ever-increasing consumer appetite for quick and affordable meals. Today, the number of QSR establishments stands at an all-time high, and while many locations had to close their doors at least temporarily in 2020, drive-thru and delivery infrastructures have enabled restaurants to resume operations during the pandemic.

Montpellier, France: Wine, Food, & Culture

Most people consider Paris to be the epicenter of fine dining and cultural experiences.

Yet Montpellier is quickly gaining traction in this area.

Facades of houses in the old center of Montpellier, France

Less than two hours south of Paris by air, Montpellier is the third largest city on the Mediterranean coast after Marseille and Nice.

Grilled fillet mignon with vegetables and goat cheese

Focus on Cuisine, Wine, & Culture

Saint Clement aqueduct in Montpellier, France

In recent years, Montpellier has become a thriving tourist center. Close to the sea, the beach is a major attraction. Montpellier also has many museums, ancient churches, and historic sites.

The high quality of restaurants in Montpellier is a welcome surprise. One reason is the freshness of the produce grown in the sunny agricultural area outside the city center.

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close up of two chefs cooking

Another key factor is the creativity of the new generation of young chefs who are flocking to this Mediterranean city to build their career.

Montpellier: Gateway to Wine Regions

Wine lovers visiting Montpellier will enjoy the opportunity to discover the wines of the nearby Languedoc-Roussillon region.

The majority of the fine dining restaurants and wine bars try to showcase these local wines. Mostly dry and delicious, they offer tremendous value for the price.

Montpellier Culture

The Faculty of Medicine of Montpellier is the oldest active medical school in the world.

In the 12 th century, Montpellier achieved fame as a trading center with links across the Mediterranean. At the same time, Montpellier became a major teaching center for medicine.

Montpellier visitors will be awestruck by the medieval architecture found all over the city, not just in the historic center.

Wining and Dining in Montpellier

Luxury hotel Chef showing food under Low-key lighting

France is known for its fine cuisine. Yet few cities offer such diversity of fine dining as Montpellier.

Because of its wealth of castles and other ancient structures, many of the better restaurants are located in exotic environments.

Dine within these restaurants and behold a magical scene featuring vaulted ceilings, candlelight, and a delicious dining experience impossible to forget.

Liquor critic is taking wineglass with red nectar on white napkin and looking attentively

Most sommeliers are quite conversant in the Languedoc-Roussillon wine. They can help you choose a wine to your liking, and also explain what differentiates one region from the next.

Visiting Wineries Outside of Montpellier

The wine region of the Languedoc-Roussillon is just an hour or two from Montpellier by car, depending on which area you want to visit. Each of these AOC regions are quite diverse in terms of soil and microclimate.

Some of the larger wineries, such as Chateau L’hospitalet in Narbonne, offer Napa Valley style hospitality, including a restaurant and a hotel.

But the majority of wineries in this region are small, family operations. A quick search of the internet will reveal a list of touring companies so you can choose a program that matches your desire. A popular option in the area is Montpellier Wine Tours.

Montpellier: If You Go

A close up of a restaurant table mis en place, prepped and set up ready for customer.

Where to Dine

Set in a 13 th century structure, this is a very romantic, fine dining restaurant with a vaulted ceiling. In summer, it is possible to dine outdoors.

The chef creates cuisine made to appeal to the eye as well as the palate. Many guests choose to order from the tasting menu, yet an a la carte option is available.

A waiter carries away dishes at the culinary gourmet vegetarian restaurant Culina Hortus in Lyon on . [+] March 26, 2019. - Quality wines, impeccable service and fine food. Despite its classic upscale restaurant, Culina Hortus stands out from other establishments in Lyon with a 100% vegetarian menu, a rarity in France. (Photo by JEFF PACHOUD / AFP) (Photo credit should read JEFF PACHOUD/AFP via Getty Images)

This restaurant is set within an ancient structure that is a cross between a castle with vaulted ceilings and a cave.

Until recently, it was a purely gastronomic restaurant. But now the owners have divided it into two establishments. In front area is a relaxed bar and café that is referred to as a “tapas bar.” This refers to small bites rather than a single plated meal.

Though it is now called a “bistro,” the more formal dining area has a stunning, castle-like setting, The wine list is one of the best in town.

This photo taken on October 2, 2018 near Collioure shows a vineyard of the Collioure appellation. . [+] (Photo by PASCAL PAVANI / AFP) (Photo credit should read PASCAL PAVANI/AFP via Getty Images)

With a very sleek, white, modern interior, this excellent Michelin-rated restaurant overlooks the river Lez.

Chef Charles Fontes worked in many celebrated Michelin starred restaurants before launching this enterprise. Chef Fontes focuses on traditional French cuisine with very fresh ingredients, with an artistic presentation.

Guests can choose from the multi-course menu or a la carte. The wine list is carefully chosen and also unusual in that the wines are grouped by price, not region.

A woman uses a plough pulled by horses in the Cinsault organic vineyard of the Massamier La Mignarde . [+] winery in Pepieux, southern France, on April 29, 2014. AFP PHOTO / PASCAL PAVANI (Photo credit should read PASCAL PAVANI/AFP via Getty Images)

Wineries To Visit

This is owned by wine producer and former rugby star Gérard Bertrand. At this chateau you will be able to taste wines from the tapestry of the wineries Betrand owns throughout the Languedoc-Roussillon region.

You can also make a day of it by dining after your tour in the “L’art de Vive” restaurant. Chef Laurent Chabert specializes in local, seasonal gourmet cooking.

Where to Stay

FRANCE - MAY 24: Winegrowers In Languedoc, Southern France - On May 24Th, 2005 - In France - Here, . [+] Beaucaire Cooperative Winery. (Photo by Patrick AVENTURIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Montpellier offers an enormous wealth of hotels to fit every budget. The region is also filled with Airbnb options.

Visitors can choose various parts of the city as their base. Popular options include the Place de la Comédie and the Historic Center. But everything is very central, and public transportation by tram and bus is both fast and easy.

The tourist office can help with recommendations.

VIGNOBLES, HERAULT, FRANCE. (Photo by Patrick LORNE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Montpellier Luxury Hotels

This is a five-star hotel in a vineyard environment, slightly outside the city.

Narbonne Wine Country

Chateau de L’Hospitalet offers 38 rooms, along with a pool, fitness area, and tennis court. You can taste wines from many of the Bertrand wineries in the surrounding appellations.

From escargots to le Big Mac: how the land of haute cuisine fell for fast food

French food: so good that the wise heads at Unesco declared it part of the world’s intangible cultural heritage, so celebrated that the love of it defined a nation.

“Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are,” as the original foodie, the gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, put it in 1825. And he was somebody who undoubtedly knew his lentilles vertes du puy et caviar from his langoustines à la nage and his poulette du perche from his poitrine de grive.

For years, France’s eating habits – and not just in restaurants – have been a model: portion control lots of basics (eggs, butter, bread, potatoes) little processed or fast foods plenty of fish, fruit, vegetable oils and (of course) full-fat dairy structured, convivial, family-centred meals. French women, after all, do not get fat.

So why, last week, did a new report suggest that 30 million people – nearly half the country’s population – could be obese by 2030? And how come, on a sunny lunchtime in early autumn, there is a queue outside McDonald’s – one of 1,440 in France, the chain’s second-biggest global market – on the Boulevard des Italiens in central Paris?

“I can’t believe you’re asking this,” said Stephane Loiseau, a 29-year-old account manager tapping his order – “un CBO” (chicken, bacon, onion) with fries – into the touchscreen. “It’s such a cliché. They’re cheap, they’re fast, they use pretty OK ingredients. Why should the French be any different from the rest of the world?”

Natalie Girardot, a sales assistant at a nearby jeweller’s store, was equally dismissive. “You know they use all-French ingredients?” she said, pointing at her tray. “Look: Charolais beef, fourme d’Ambert cheese on the top. Plus a proper vinaigrette. France loves McDonald’s. It always has done.”

That’s not strictly true. Twenty years ago next year, a pipe-smoking, mustachioed sheep farmer called José Bové famously dismantled a half-built McDonald’s at Millau in southern France with a group of fellow smallholders and ex-hippies, launching a national crusade against la malbouffe – junk food.

But now France loves burgers: a survey published earlier this year by consultancy Gira Conseil showed the country’s 66 million people consumed 1.46 billion of them in 2017 – nearly 10% more than the previous year. Perhaps more remarkably, burgers now feature on the menus of 85% of French restaurants. Not that you’d call them malbouffe. At L’Artisan du Burger on rue du Faubourg Poissonnière, burgers with ingredients including rocket, lime zest, reblochon cheese, compote of red onions and a smoked spice sauce cost €12 (more if you want them in a squid-ink bun topped with nigella or black cumin seeds).

“They’re part of our national cuisine now,” said Sara Vérier, a bank worker and frequent restaurant-goer. “Almost every place – even some really quite smart ones – does at least one. You get nice French touches: a wedge of foie gras, roquefort. Sometimes even truffles.”

Bernard Boutboul, Gira Conseil’s managing director, describes the burger’s seemingly unstoppable rise in France as “a euphoria, a craze” that has now started to verge on “hysteria”, with posh burgers outselling French bistro classics such as duck breast and boeuf bourguignon in many restaurants.

Yet the vast majority of burgers consumed in France – 70% – are far from fast food. They are eaten sitting at a table, with (often) a glass of wine, in a “proper” restaurant. Which does not mean the home of haute cuisine has not fallen for fast food: it has. French eating habits are changing.

Increasing time pressure (no more two-hour lunches the average French worker now takes a 31-minute break at midday, according to one survey) and the emergence of home-delivery services such as Deliveroo and UberEats have seen the country’s fast-food sector expand exponentially.

France’s 32,000 fast-food outlets booked sales of about €51bn last year – 6% more than in 2016, 13% up on four years ago, and almost three times the figure in 2005. What’s more, they now represent 60% of the entire French restaurant business.

Fast food “doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t eat well,” said Josiane Bouvier, a geography teacher, emerging from Nous, an organic takeaway on rue du Châteaudun, with an unFrench-sounding “hotbox” of grilled chicken, mint yoghurt sauce, seasonal salad and wholegrain rice. “I think many French people who go even to fast-food places are very conscious of the quality of ingredients, and whether dishes are really made on the premises,” she said. “But that’s if you can afford nine, 10 or 12 euros for lunch out.”

And there’s the thing. Good food is no longer cheap in France – in restaurants or at home. The country’s food processing and distribution firms are big and powerful. French eating habits, the national food agency Anses says, are no longer a model: now it involves more and more highly processed foods, too much salt, and not enough fibre.

For all its particular relationship to food, France is far from immune to la malbouffe. MPs reported last week that as many as 30 million French people, mainly in lower-income households, will be obese or overweight by 2030 unless big food firms slash salt, sugar, fat and other additives and children are educated to eat more healthily.

“French families spend less money and less time on their food than ever before,” said one MP, Loïc Prud’homme. “We need to take back control of our plates.”

Another, Michèle Crouzet, who has campaigned for less salt in food, was blunter. The French “are not dying of too much food,” she said, “but little by little, the food we eat is killing us.”

5 Food Trends That Will Define 'New Normal' Post Covid-19


The world saw a transition from industrial animal production for consumption to more sustainable, animal-welfare forms of agriculture, as well as a reduction in animals raised for food. This also gave a significant push to the 'vegan food industry' and brought it to the forefront of the health trends of 2019-2020.

But will the COVID-19 pandemic be the final nail in the coffin that makes the world switch over from meat? With people being more conscious about their lifestyle choices, they are now making more thoughtful purchasing decisions, and opting for sustainable alternatives. People today are getting increasingly curious about how and where something is made, as well as its impact on the environment.

Being part of the hospitality industry in India, here is what I think will be some of the food trends that will takeover the Indian F&B sector post lockdown:

Here Are 5 Food Trends That Will Take Over The Food & Beverage Space Post Covid-19:

1. Chef Driven Delivery Restaurants

Many chef-driven, fine dining restaurants which were earlier focussed on providing customers a dining-in experience, will now venture into the delivery business. In the long term this will completely change the landscape of the delivery business in the country.

Customers have always connected better with brands who have a consistent story and have been transparent with them about the team and chefs that work behind the scenes to make their food. This was earlier missing from the delivery business model in India, but will now make a comeback. Curating a better experience right from hygiene & safe, to packaging & customer centric content will put forward a new wave of doing business in the food delivery sector.

Food delivery is likely to become the new dining out.

2. Vegan & Healthy-Food Delivery Brands

There was a strong shift indicated in 2020 towards vegan & organic food. But with Covid19 taking the globe by storm, this trend will soon become a lifestyle for many. People will be more conscious about the food they eat and this market will see a rise in 'vegan only' brands. Many SME's have come up in the product space across the country promoting plant-based products, foods & more.

In late 2019 and early 2020 we saw many smaller cafes spring up focusing on healthy, farm-to-table and vegan menus. As Indians, a lot of our diet is already vegan-friendly, hence, it is not too difficult for us to adapt. However, with the availability of vegan cheese, mayonnaise & mock meats in India, the transition seems easier.

Vegan food will take industry by storm.

3. Gourmet Street Food

India is known for its street food and people love it. However, with hygiene and cleanliness being the primary area of concern after COVID-19, street food is not going to be people's preferred option for eating out for months to come post the pandemic. Thus, we will see a rise of many gourmet street food brands in the organized sector that can provide great taste coupled with hygiene and convenience of delivery.

Street food will likely see a transformation.

4. Meat Alternatives & Mock Meat

With people switching from an animal based diet to a plant based one, we will see the popularisation of mock meat and meat alternatives. Many restaurants will give their customers an option to opt for mock meat instead of the real thing, hence allowing them to add the required protein content to their meal rather carb heavy vegetarian and vegan diet food options. This industry has already seen great potential abroad, and will probably make a big impact in the post COVID-19 era in India, in both F&B and retail.

Mock meat will become more commonplace.

5. At Home Experiences

Due to physical distancing being strictly enforced in India and around the world during COVID-19, a lot of the people will opt for enforcing this even after the pandemic is over to deal with the fear of another outbreak. Even after lockdown is over, restaurants will not be allowed to operate at more than a 30% capacity, hence there will be more and more F&B brands providing 'At Home' experiences.

This trend was earlier being explored by a select few players in India, and will now see a major rise. Most hospitality brands will provide private catering services that will have the option of 'cooking at home', and will cater to groups of 8 to 20 people who would like to have an indulgent gourmet experience indoors post the pandemic.

About Author: Pawan Shahri is Managing partner at Butterfly Fly, The Bigg Small Café + Bar and Oi Kitchen and Bar​.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

The Evolution of Instant Mashed Potatoes

If mashed potato pedants have opinions about ricers, they’ll definitely have something to say about this next development. In the 1950s, researchers at what is today called the Eastern Regional Research Center, a United States Department of Agriculture facility outside of Philadelphia, developed a new method for dehydrating potatoes that led to potato flakes that could be quickly rehydrated at home. Soon after, modern instant mashed potatoes were born.

It’s worth pointing out that this was far from the first time potatoes had been dehydrated. Dating back to at least the time of the Incas, chuño is essentially a freeze-dried potato created through a combination of manual labor and environmental conditions. The Incas gave it to soldiers and used it to guard against crop shortages.

Experiments with industrial drying were gearing up in the late 1700s, with one 1802 letter to Thomas Jefferson discussing a new invention where you grated the potato and pressed all the juices out, and the resulting cake could be kept for years. When rehydrated it was “like mashed potatoes” according to the letter. Sadly, the potatoes had a tendency to turn into purple, astringent-tasting cakes.

Interest in instant mashed potatoes resumed during the Second World War period, but those versions were a soggy mush or took forever. It wasn’t until the ERRC’s innovations in the 1950s that a palatable dried mashed potato could be produced. One of the key developments was finding a way to dry the cooked potatoes much faster, minimizing the amount of cell rupture and therefore the pastiness of the end-product. These potato flakes fit perfectly into the rise of so-called convenience foods at the time, and helped potato consumption rebound in the 1960s after a decline in prior years.

Instant mashed potatoes are a marvel of food science, but they’re not the only use scientists found for these new potato flakes. Miles Willard, one of the ERRC researchers, went on to work in the private sector, where his work helped contribute to new types of snacks using reconstituted potato flakes—including Pringles.


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