Munsell Color System; Color Matching from Munsell Color Company > Color Matching & Standards > Colorfully Perfect French Fries & Sides

Colorfully Perfect French Fries & Sides

No matter what you call them, be it french fries, frites, chips, deep fried potatoes, or what size or shape they come in, from shoestring to thick-cut, waffle to crinkle style, no one can deny that fries have become a food favorite across the world. There is even a National French Fry Day to help celebrate.

The origin of the fry is still up for debate. Belgians called them “Les frites”, while the French called them “Pomme Frites”, or fried potatoes. In America, French fries became the popular term. Back in the day, the frites were often fried in ox or horse fat, while today, you more typically see vegetable or peanut oil used.

While our modern fries make a great partner to a salad or sandwich, the French fries themselves have their own complementary relationships. Fries are almost always accompanied by one or more condiments to be dunked or smothered in.



Making the Perfect French Fries

The first US standards for frozen french fried potatoes was released on April 22, 1966 and made effective July 1, 1966. It served as a means for grading and inspection to ensure food quality. Fry color was indicated by a designation of extra light, light, medium light, medium, or dark. And thus was born the Munsell USDA French Fry Color Chart.Munsell french fry color standard chart

Used for programming deep fryers to certify a proper balance of temperature, fat content, and duration of frying is executed. No more soggy, undercooked or burnt to a crisp, bitter tasting ill-prepared french fries.

The Colorful Shades of Condiments

Now that we have french fries cooked to perfection, it seems fitting to take our color notations a step further… to the ketchups, the mustards, the gravies, the cheeses – and other condiments that enhance the fries experience. When it comes to french fry condiments, everyone likes something different. From combos of mixed or double dunked flavors, to more traditional accompaniments… nothing is really typical when choosing go-to dipping sides.

Ketchup 10R 3/10

Certainly one of the most popular of all the french fry dipping option, ketchup is sweet and tangy and color-wise, reflective of the tomatoes that make up the majority of it’s ingredients.

A glass jar filled with ketchup showing the Munsell color notation

Aioli 5Y 9/2

A typical aioli is garlic whisked with egg yolk and olive oil, but there are many variations where herbs or spices are added.

A glass jar filled with aoili sauce with the Munsell color notation 

Curry Red 10R 3/8 & Green 2.5Y 4/6

When you need a little spice to go along with your fries, curry never disappoint. Here we have a red and green curry gravy – heavy on the spice.

Two glass jars one with red and one with green curry sauce showing the Munsell color notation for each

Cheese 10YR 7/14

The options are plenty for cheese dipping sauces, as well as crumbled or drizzled on toppings. We stuck with a traditional yellow-red cheddar sauce. Orange cheese please.

A glass jar filled with cheese showing a Munsell color notation

Hot Sauce 10R 3/8 & 2.5Y 8.5/4

From milder pepper sauces to intensely hot ghost pepper sauces, bringing the heat to a pile of fries is a treat for many. Here we have a traditional chilli pepper sauce.

A glass jar filled with hot sauce showing Munsell color notation

Mustard 2.5Y 7/6 & 2.5YR 3/6

With so many mustard choices available, it was hard to settle on one. A more traditional yellow mustard would fall somewhere around 5Y 8/10, while honey mustard around 2.5Y 8/8. For our selection here, we went with a stoneground mustard, because clearly, it contains more than one color. Here we look at the color of the mustard itself and the mustard seeds.

A glass jar filled with mustard showing the Munsell color notation

Tzatziki 5GY 9/1 & 5GY 3/2

A mix of yogurt, cucumbers, garlic and olive oil, it is a popular Mediterranean dip or condiment for meats or pita and equally as good for fries.

A glass jar filled with tzatziki sauce showing Munsell color notation

Ranch 5Y 9/1

A dairy based dressing made popular at a dude ranch in California in the 50’s, it is still the best selling salad dressing in the US. It is also a popular dipping sauce.

A glass jar filled with ranch dressing showing the Munsell color notation

BBQ 7.5R 2/6

Kansas City, Carolina, Texas, Alabama, Kentucky – with such variety of BBQ sauces to choose from, we could be dipping fries all day.

A glass jar filled with bbq sauce showing the Munsell color notation

Gravy 2.5YR 2/4

This dark brown gravy is beef based. Make sure your fries are nice and crispy before smothering them with this.

Poutine, a popular Canadian dish, is a combo of cheese curds (yellow or orange in color depending on the variety) and gravy – usually a light brown chicken, veal or turkey variety.

A glass jar filled with gravy showing the Munsell color notation

Malt Vinegar 10R 3/6

Very popular for fish and chips, it adds a toasty, nutty flavor to the fries.

A glass jar filled with malt vinegar showing Munsell color notation

Mayo 2.5YR 7/4

Some like mayo alone 5Y 9/2, some like it mixed with ketchup. Sometimes called fry sauce, this combo comes in a variety of ratios (this Russian dressing or Thousand Island). Here we have a 3/4 mayo to 1/4 ketchup ratio.

Two glass jars one with mayo one with ketchup with Munsell color notations

A glass jar filled with fry sauce mayo ketchup combo and its Munsell color notation

The Smorgasbord

What happens when all of these get mixed together? What color would we get? We don’t recommend actually doing this but since we had leftovers of all the ingredients, we though, why not.

A side of sauce for dipping french fries

Anything Goes

When it comes to accompanying french fries, almost anything you can think of can be added. From chilli or refried beans to an egg. If you decide to pile on some bacon, make sure it is cooked to your liking. We hope your french fry dining experiences will never again be the same again.

Happy National French Fry Day!

Note: There are a plethora of condiments available on the market. Colors will vary from brand-to-brand, so the color notations listed in this post are merely a sample. Test your color matching skills and see what color notations you find in your kitchen.



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One response to “Colorfully Perfect French Fries & Sides”

  1. As much as I appreciate this color system there are many factors involved in determining ones choice.

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