In the Chips, Buddy

chip butty

Food is not an uncommon topic on the Bottle Rockets message board, and the subject of sandwiches with fries on ’em, or sandwiches that were simply fries on bread, came up under the subject line, Only in America. I have written several times about Primanti Bros in Pittsburgh, a beloved sandwich joint that is world famous for the quality of their goods, their atmosphere and, particularly of note, the fact that the sandwiches are loaded with fries.

Here is the thread, which I followed with great interest. Oh, and yes I know I have been beating my patrons over the head with my Bottle Rockets mania lately. They do, in case you have not heard, have a fantastic new release, Lean Forward, and so I am a bit more frenzied that usual. No matter what you ask me, I stay on topic. The answer is always, Lean Forward. Apologies. And not.

by Hot Rod Girl on Sat Aug 22, 2009

Not only in America. One of my old roommates was British and used to talk nostalgically about something he ate back home…I forgot what it was called, but it amounted to french fries served on a bun like a sandwich.

by Million Miler on Sat Aug 22, 2009

French fries on a bun? you can eat that everywhere here in Belgium It will be something like a “baguette” (like a french bread). My dutch friends think I make it up!!

by decent e on Sun Aug 23, 2009

Hot Rod Girl wrote:
“Not only in America. One of my old roommates was British and used to talk nostalgically about something he ate back home…I forgot what it was called, but it amounted to french fries served on a bun like a sandwich.”

Maybe he was talking about this:
Chip Butty
Apparently called a “chip butty”.
(See the photo above.)

by jersey on Sun Aug 23, 2009

In New Brunswick NJ from the “grease trucks” that park on the Rutgers campus, you can buy something called an Italian Hot Dog which is a hot dog on a hefty Italian roll also stuffed with fried onions and french fries. I downed many of these. Too many.

by Hot Rod Girl on Sun Aug 23, 2009

decent e wrote:
“Apparently called a “chip butty”.

YES! That was what it was called.

by Million Miler on Mon Aug 24, 2009

I learned something… that bun with fries is called “French hamburger” over here. (Million Miler is Dutch) Looks like this:
frenchhamburger
I dont know how it is served in the UK, but this has some fastfood meat in there too…
Brrrr!

by jersey on Wed Aug 26, 2009

midnight snack wrote:
“Rutgers greasetruck?? Please enlighten.”

Wikipedia gives a little of the flavor, but it’s somewhat naive & incomplete.
My guess it was written by thirty-somethings who think history started with them!
Actually, history started in the late 1960’s/early 1970’s when I was there.
The “trucks”– grease joined the nomenclature later, but I can vouch for the fact that it was plentiful in the sandwiches — were ALL parked on College Ave. across from the Commons.
They got there late at night and therefore didn’t compete with the school food services. (Well maybe they competed with breakfast.)

There was a parked-parade of trucks, at least 4 or 5 on a typical night, many more during exams. All independently owned & operated (& patronized) by very very colorful characters.
The trucks radiated the same insane tumult & craziness you feel at a very busy food stand in Manhattan at 3 AM.

You could get anything you wanted from ice cream to a whole fresh-baked pizza (baked from scratch right on one of the trucks), to a pretty decent cheese steak (not as good as the amazingly great ones at Greasy Tony’s down the street, but good and cheaper and closer to the dorms) to a Fat Burger (with fries on it) to an Italian Hot Dog (also with fries on it) to a Sausage Sub (with fries on it).

The fact that most of the sandwiches came with fries pre-loaded was decidedly the trucks’ differentiator, its raison-d’etre, even as far back as I go…
So the “fries on the sandwich” revolution definitely predates Fat Darrell and all the other 1990’s era posers….

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