Is It Time to Start Hoarding French Fries?

Photo: Jacob Snavely/Getty Images

Are you sitting down? Because you’ll need to once you hear the big news. We may run out of French fries. Or at least that’s what seemingly every media outlet from Gothamist to CNN is breathlessly reporting this week in some kind of twisted effort to turn Ore Ida into a new national currency. What’s the truth? What’s fiction? What’s French fries? Below, a rundown of what’s really happening with our favorite fried starch.

Truth: Potato farmers have had a tough fall.
The information that started this whole kerfuffle was a report in Bloomberg two days ago that following unusually cold weather, potato farmers in Idaho and parts of Canada were experiencing lower crop yields, leading to a 6.6% drop in domestic potato yields! Oh, the humanity!

False: The potato industry is freaking out.
Here’s why you shouldn’t panic. The people who know more about potatoes than anyone has a right to aren’t even that worried about it. Or as Frank Muir, the president of the Idaho Potato Commission, told the Times, “Don’t panic about the French fries. You can still go out and order them like you normally do.”

True: Bad weather is worse for French fries than chips and other potato products.
There’s a reason reporters are freaking out about French fries and not, say, Ruffles sour cream and cheddar chips, the perfect chip. French fries are made with big potatoes and in order for a potato to get big it has to be left out a little longer, which makes it particularly vulnerable to harsh weather. This is just a universal French fry truth!

False: This is unprecedented.
One, tell that to the Irish. And two, this same situation literally happened last year and no one freaked out then. According to the USDA, total potato production dipped slightly between 2017 and 2018, but Americans were none the wiser because the French fries didn’t run out then and they surely won’t run out now.

Is It Time to Start Hoarding French Fries?