To outsiders beyond Utah, fry sauce is probably as foreign and unusual as funeral potatoes — though from recent national reactions to funeral potatoes, I’d venture to say fry sauce could 100 percent be more easily adopted nationally. In fact, Heinz is polling people for its latest product “Mayochup” to see if there is interest for distribution; the name itself is an abomination, though, because we all know it’s fry sauce.
For nearly 70 years fry sauce has graced plates in Utah as an alternative condiment to plain, old ketchup.
I must make a confession. As a non-native Utahn, I was deeply opposed to fry sauce during the first few years I was a resident. I abhorred the thought of submitting my French fries to the unusual creation; I grew up dipping fries in honey mustard, which I do still enjoy to this day.
Years later though, I now look back at all the full containers of fry sauce I discarded into my trash cans ... with regret.
Nowadays, I cannot even fully enjoy fries without fry sauce. It’s ruined me, in the most wonderful way.
Last summer when I found myself unexpectedly traveling through Oklahoma for my mother’s funeral, I was hardly hungry. The rapid onset of grief left little energy for the tedious task of consuming and digesting food — despite how much my life is usually centered around good meals.
At one point we found ourselves grabbing lunch inside a common fast food joint unique to the region, and I actually wanted some crinkle-cut fries. As I approached the condiment station, it occurred to me that, of course I’m outside of Utah, there was no fry sauce to be had.
When in Rome, you improvise. So, in the middle of an Oklahoman fast food joint, I walked up to the counter and asked an employee for a few condiment packets of mayonnaise. She said they had none. I asked if they had any mayonnaise at all. She wasn’t sure. I asked, “None at all???” She repeated my request to me, which I emphatically confirmed to satisfy her confusion. Then, miraculously she was able to secure me a boat, yes a paper boat, containing scoops of mayonnaise. Feeling victorious, I took it to my table and started to mix it with my paper cups of ketchup looking for a ratio that somewhat resembled fry sauce (though we all know fry sauce is much more than just mixing those two).
In my moment of grief, it sufficed. During those times, you learn what truly matters: family, friends, and for some: French fries ... and fry sauce.
I’m a fry sauce convert. Like so many other non-native Utahns, it was foreign to me, but at some point it became the sauce I couldn’t live without. And I think it could be the same for other non-fry-sauce-lovers out there, too. Here’s why:
Add spice to your fry life
Bottled tomato ketchup as Americans know it today was really first put out in the mid-1800s. In various forms, ketchup has been around for centuries across the world. I believe there’s value in elevating a classic and turning it into a new tradition. Enter, fry sauce.
There is creativity in it
It seems to be universally accepted that fry sauce’s origins are connected with the fast food restaurant Arctic Circle.
But, one of the things I’ve loved seeing in recent years is restaurants across Utah Valley putting their own stamp on a house-made fry sauce.
One of my personal favorites happens to be the chipotle fry sauce at Cubby’s, that originated in Provo and now has seven locations. The sauce’s slightly smoky and spicy flavor begs to be used beyond dipping fries.
Utah’s contributed other amazing creations
Yes, we have funeral potatoes. No, no one really eats green Jell-O anymore, thank goodness.
People born in Utah have a track record of making some pretty awesome contributions to the world like the television, Atari, traffic lights and the odometer (probably because drivers here are horrid) . These all impact our daily lives at some point or another for good.
So, why not add fry sauce to that list?