was an alternate name used for French fries
by some in the United States
as a result of anti-French sentiment in the United States
during the international debate over the decision to launch the 2003 invasion of Iraq
had expressed strong opposition in the United Nations
to such an invasion. The French position was frowned upon by many in the United States, leading to campaigns for the boycotting of French goods and businesses and the removal of the country's name from products.
The Congressional renaming
On 11 March 2003, Representatives Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) and Walter B. Jones, Jr. (R-North Carolina) declared that all references to French fries and French toast on the menus of the restaurants and snack bars run by the House of Representatives would be removed. House cafeterias were ordered to rename French fries "freedom fries". This action was carried out without a congressional vote, under the authority of Ney's position as Chairman of the Committee on House Administration, which oversees restaurant operations for the chamber. The simultaneous renaming of French toast to "freedom toast" attracted less attention.
According to a statement released by Ney, this move was intended to express displeasure with France's "continued refusal to stand with their U.S. allies" (see Iraq disarmament crisis). The statement further read: "This action today is a small but symbolic effort to show the strong displeasure many on Capitol Hill have with our so-called ally, France."
This sentiment was communicated through the Internet, chain e-mails, and frequent references on 24-hour news coverage from networks such as CNN and Fox News. The move was internationally satirized.
The French embassy made no comment beyond pointing out that French fries probably come from Belgium. "We are at a very serious moment dealing with very serious issues and we are not focusing on the name you give to potatoes," said Nathalie Loisau, an embassy spokeswoman. Critics also asserted that "French fries" were called such because they are "frenched", or thinly sliced, although this might be a false etymology; the first American reference to French fries was made by Thomas Jefferson, who referred to them as "potatoes, fried in the French Manner".
Congressmen Ney and Jones were not the first to rename French fries "freedom fries"; a number of private restaurants across the country began the renaming movement. Neal Rowland, owner of the privately owned fast-food restaurant Cubbie's in Beaufort, North Carolina began the movement by selling his fried potato strips under the name "freedom fries". Rowland claimed that his intent was not to slight the French people, but rather to be "patriotic and supportive of President George W. Bush" after hearing the news of the French opposition on 19 February 2003. He explained that the name change came to mind after a conversation with a history teacher about World War I, during which anti-German sentiment prompted Americans to rename German foods. Sauerkraut was renamed "liberty cabbage", dachshunds (wiener dogs) renamed "liberty pups", frankfurters renamed "hot dogs" (a name that has stuck), and hamburgers renamed "liberty steaks" or "Salisbury steaks" (a name that remains in use.) Many of Rowland's customers are local military troops. In March 2007, Rowland obtained a U.S. trademark registration for the mark "freedom fries". The name change is still used by some restaurants, such as Geno's Steaks in Philadelphia.
Reckitt Benckiser, makers of French's mustard, was sufficiently concerned to clarify that their brand name was derived from a family name, and to issue a press release affirming its patriotism.
In May 2005, Representative Jones, having arrived at the belief that the United States went to war "with no justification", said of the "freedom fries" episode: "I wish it had never happened." By July 2006, the House had changed the name of the two foods in all of its restaurants back to "French fries" and "French toast".
- Canada: During World War I, the Ontario city of Berlin was renamed Kitchener.
- France: During the French Revolution, the Committee of Public Safety went so far as to banish all words associated with royalty. A major example of their work was taking Kings and Queens out of playing cards and replacing them with Committee members. It lasted less than a year. Also, during World War I, coffee with whipped cream, previously known as Café Viennois (Vienna coffee), was renamed Café Liégeois (Coffee from Liège) due to the state of war with Austria-Hungary. This appellation is still in use today, mainly for ice-creams (chocolat liégeois and café liegeois).
- Germany: In 1915, after Italy entered World War I, restaurants in Berlin stopped serving Italian salad.
- Greece: "Ellinikos kafes" ("Greek coffee") replaced "Turkikos kafes" ("Turkish coffee") on Greek menus after the 1974 Cyprus crisis.
- Iran: During the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy in 2006, several Iranian groups advocated changing the name of Danish pastry to "Roses of the Prophet Muhammad.
- New Zealand: In 1998, while the French government was testing nuclear weapons in the Pacific, French loaves were renamed Kiwi loaves in a number of supermarkets and bakeries. This, however, does not appear to have been as extensively reported or publicized as anti-French sentiment in the United States. However, French Fries at a few family restaurants were renamed Kiwi fries, or just "Fries", which was already an established term. Most New Zealanders, however, use the British word "chips".
- Spain: After the triumph of Francisco Franco, filete imperial ("imperial beef") became a euphemism for filete ruso ("Russian beef"), "ensaladilla nacional" ("national salad") for "ensaladilla rusa" ("Russian salad") and Caperucita Encarnada ("Little Red Riding Hood") for Caperucita Roja (which has the same meaning but loses its hypothetical connotations).
- Turkey: Russian salad became American salad because of the anti-Communist sentiment in the country. Similarly, "Constantinople" was officially renamed Istanbul by the Turks in years following a Greek invasion in the 1920s, although the name "Istanbul" (originally of Greek origin itself, from the phrase "is tin poli" meaning "to the city") had been in use since the time of Fatih Sultan Mehmet.
- United Kingdom: During World War I, the German Shepherd was renamed the "Alsatian," and German biscuits were renamed Empire biscuits due to strong anti-German sentiment. Perhaps most famously, in 1917 the name of the royal family was changed by George V to Windsor from the German surname Wettin and house name Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
- United States: Food items weren't the only names changed in the United States during World War I. The German Spitz was renamed the American Eskimo Dog, and the German measles were instead called liberty measles.