Alternate to French Fries (Fried Potato) in Fast Food

The French Fry is of course the staple side dish for Fast Food restaurants at least in the United States. What could have been an alternative to fried potatoes cut in long thick slices? Popcorn is one thing that I considered.
 

Driftless

Donor
You probably need some calorie dense food to be filling. Sweet potatoes appear on some fast food menus. Rice is another option. Some type of bread stick/pretzel creation?
 
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You probably need some calorie dense food t- to be filling.
Not just calorie dense, it needs to be best served with lots of salt too to encourage the customer to buy larger drink sizes. Drink sales are the biggest money-maker to any restaurant.
Sweet potatoes appear on some fast food menus. Rice is another option. Some type of bread stick/pretzel creation?
Rice isn't a finger food (except for some dishes like rice cakes, but most of those aren't popular in the West) so is inherently out, breadstick/pretzels might work. Sweet potato fries wouldn't work since they were considered a poverty food in many parts of the country and eating out at even a fast-food restaurant was considered a special occasion for most families until the 80s or so, so not something you'd want to mix.
 
You probably need some calorie dense food t- to be filling. Sweet potatoes appear on some fast food menus. Rice is another option. Some type of bread stick/pretzel creation?

roasted nuts? like the peanuts u can get in ny, could have diff styles of it, like salted or honey
Butterfly the American Chestnut Blight that occurred before WWI that drove that species that was more common than Oak, nearly extinct. Billions of trees died before WWII
Roasted Chestnut was once more popular than Peanuts
 
Not just calorie dense, it needs to be best served with lots of salt too to encourage the customer to buy larger drink sizes. Drink sales are the biggest money-maker to any restaurant.

Rice isn't a finger food (except for some dishes like rice cakes, but most of those aren't popular in the West) so is inherently out, breadstick/pretzels might work. Sweet potato fries wouldn't work since they were considered a poverty food in many parts of the country and eating out at even a fast-food restaurant was considered a special occasion for most families until the 80s or so, so not something you'd want to mix.
Used to be a little BBQ place near the courthouse I used to work at frequently, that had GREAT sweet potato fries.... I got hooked on those things....
 
Tater tots. Potatoes are cheap and popular so that (and the previously mentioned chips) are probably reasonable alternatives.
 

Nick P

Donor
So, no potatoes?

Vegetable Fries. Use the likes of Turnip, Swede/Rutabaga, Beetroot, Carrots and Parsnips. Basically you chop and fry any veg you have, whatever is going cheap on the market that week.
This one uses Eggplant/Aubergine and something called Jicama that I've never heard of! https://www.thekitchn.com/oven-baked-veggie-fries-5-ways-227615

When you cook up a mixed batch there's a lovely range of colour to brighten up any plate instead of the pale yellow from cheap chips. Adding salt is the cheap option, some places will use paprika or chilli powder or whatever herbs and spices fit their menu.
 
If potatoes are off the menu, some sort of corn-based dish such as hush puppies or corn fritters, corn being the next cheapest starchy vegetable.
 
An odd one, but parsnip fries? Same basic principles as a French fry, but all the soapy flavour of a parsnip! Breadsticks could also work, especially with more liquid based dinners like soups. A small rice cake maybe? I could see that catching on in a Southeast Asian style restaurant chain, maybe mini dumplings too? Of course, many places might skip fries and their equivalents, I lived near a tiny Greek food van years ago, and the kebabs I bought were glorious, but no fries of any kind, just an extra plain or garlic pitta for 80p.
 

Driftless

Donor
Not just calorie dense, it needs to be best served with lots of salt too to encourage the customer to buy larger drink sizes. Drink sales are the biggest money-maker to any restaurant.

Rice isn't a finger food
Finger food is a good point. Still, I'll throw in another non-finger food option: pasta. Pasta in many forms is a standard side dish across the world, to be eaten with fork, chopsticks, or even a spoon.
Sweet potato fries wouldn't work since they were considered a poverty food in many parts of the country and eating out at even a fast-food restaurant was considered a special occasion for most families until the 80s or so, so not something you'd want to mix.
I'll disagree agree on the poverty food being a turnoff - for many. Most immigrant cultures in the US (throughout our history) seem to have two common elements: some kind of flat bread and something that most other cultures view as noxious..... Those things were considered poverty food back in the "old country", but were elevated to the ethnic food pantheon on arrival to the US, in part because that's all they could afford, in part for the connection to something familiar.

Conversely, you see the homogenization of many of those ethnic foods into Americanized forms - with a wide variety of spice palettes. ie. my Wisconsin school systems school lunch chili was mostly hamburger, tomato, and bean stew, with one nanogram of commercial chilil powder added - for "that authentic Mexican flavor....."

Also, while the trip to the fast food joint was often a family highlight, for a great many it was a cheap night out, emphasis on cheap.
 
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DougM

Donor
For fast food it needs to be a finger food. Ever notice almost all fast food is finger food based?
Also it needs to be cheep for the restaurant's to buy and fast to make. it also needs to go with a lot of different foods and it needs to be so ething that is better made at a restaurant then at home.
This combination is very hard to find if you pull fries out of the picture.
You can get something close but not as universally popular.

This is the reality and biggest problem with alt history. Sometimes things are hard to change. You cant build railroads with middle ages tech, you need 1960s tech to go to the moon. Etc. In this case it is very hard to replace french fires at fast food places because the things that make them work so well are not found in other foods in the same combination.
 
It also depends on why no french fries?

Nobody ever thought of cutting potatoes that way? Then potato chips or hash browns.

Potatoes unavailable because they went extinct (like Gros Michel bananas almost did) ? Then probably hush puppies or corn fritters, and also 20th Century history is uglier, especially in Russia, which may delay fast food culture.

Potatoes never became thing in the first place? (ignored during colonization, now they are an obscure vegetable in the expensive grocery aisle) Then corn fritters again, plus all history after the 1500s is seriously butterflied.
 
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