A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from August 02, 2009
“Do you want fries with that?”

"Do you want (french) fries with that?” is a frequent question that’s asked customers at McDonald’s drive-thrus—so frequent that the question has reached iconic status. The question became familiar in the early 1980s, and by 1988-89, television stand-up comedians such as Jay Leno and David Letterman were using the line in their routines.

Southern humorist Lewis Grizzard (1946-1994) popularized the question in his syndicated columns in the 1980s. A December 1984 newspaper column titled “"Beware of the teen-age fries pushers” told of Grizzard’s anger at simply ordering coffee and being asked “How about some french fries with that?”

“Do you want fries with that shake?” was popularized by a 1986 song and adds a sexual/dance reference (the “shake” is not a “milkshake") to the phrase.

“Do you want fries with that?” became a 1990s joke about the poor employment prospects of liberal arts majors.


Wikipedia: Lewis Grizzard
Lewis McDonald Grizzard, Jr. (October 20, 1946 - March 20, 1994) was an American writer and humorist, known for his Southern demeanor and commentary on the American South. Although he spent his early career as a newspaper sports writer and editor, becoming the sports editor of the Atlanta Journal at age 23, he is much better known for his humorous newspaper columns in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a popular stand-up comedian & lecturer.

Grizzard also published a total of twenty-five books, including collections of his columns (e.g. Chili Dawgs Always Bark at Night), expanded versions of his stand-up comedy routines (I Haven’t Understood Anything Since 1962), and the autobiographical If I Ever Get Back to Georgia, I’m Gonna Nail My Feet to the Ground. Although much of his comedy discussed the South and Grizzard’s personal and professional lives, it was also a commentary on issues prevalent throughout America, including relationships between men and women (e.g. If Love Were Oil, I’d Be About a Quart Low), politics, and health, especially heart health. Grizzard was also the stepbrother of the Southern humorist Ludlow Porch.

The Official Lewis Grizzard Website
McDonald’s, Are You Listening?
(...)
“How ‘bout some fries with that?”

Food Quotes from the Stone Soup Show
I went into a McDonald’s yesterday and said, ‘I’d like some fries.’ The girl at the counter said, ‘Would you like some fries with that?’
- Jay Leno

Google News Archive
2 June 1978, The Ledger (Lakeland, FL), ‘The Hamburgers Did Them In” by Art Buchwald, pg. 8A, col. 1:
“Okay, I’ll have one of those and a hamburger just slightly singed on both sides.”
“You want French fries with that?” the waitress asked.

Google News Archive
6 December 1984, Gainesville (FL) Sun, “Beware of the teen-age fries pushers” by Lewis Grizzard, pg. 19B, col. 3:
What else I don’t like about McDonald’s is they’re pushy, especially about their french fries.
(...)
“How about some french fries with that?” a voice said.
“No, I said, “all I want is a cup of coffee.”
“Sure you don’t want some french fries?” the voice insisted.
“Listen, Burger Breath,” I said, “all I want is a cup of coffee.”
I got to the window and a 15-year-old employee, who was crying, handed me my coffee.
“What’s the matter?” I asked.
“You didn’t take any french fries,” sobbed the employee.

Google News Archive
19 January 1987, Gainesville (FL) Sun, “I’m going to be Mr. Calm in 1987” by Lewis Grizzard, pg. 7C, col. 3:
I am going to handle it when I drive through a McDonald’s and order a hamburger and some 14-year-old asks, “Would you like french fries with that?” I will simply say, “No,” not “If I’d wanted the bleeping fries I would have asked for them, pimple face.”

Google News Archive
6 May 1988, Gainesville (FL) Sun, “Here’s a stress test nobody will be able to pass” by Lewis Grizzard, pg. 11B, col. 3:
5. you go to a drive-thru window at a McDonald’s and ask for coffee, and some 14-year-old with terminal zits asks you eight times if you’d like to have french fries with that.

Google Books
April 1989, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, pg. 9, col. 1:
YOU WANT FRIES WITH THAT MORTGAGE?
Here comes the McMortgage.

Google Books
The “Late Night with David Letterman” Book of Top Ten Lists
By David Letterman, et al.
New York, NY: Pocket Books
1990
Pg. 31:
After sex with wife, might mistakenly say, “Do you want fries with that?”

Google Books
Mine
By Robert R. McCammon
New York, NY: Simon & Schuster
1990
Pg. 419:
You have to do some things you don’t like to fit in. Like at the Burger King where I used to work. “Thank you ma’am.” “Yes sir, would you like fries with that sir?” Those kind of things.

Google BOoks
The Unofficial Golfer’s Handbook
By Richard Mintzer
New York, NY: Penguin Books
1991
Pg. 89:
THE MCDONALD’S OPEN— lts the only tournament where, after a caddie hands you your club, he’ll ask “Do you want fries with that?

Google Books
Jay Leno’s headlines. Books I, II, III
By Jay leno
New York, NY: Wings Books
1992
Pg. 288:
‘You want fries with that?” department:...

OCLC WorldCat record
You want fries with that? : social motivations of codeswitching in the Dutch province of Friesland
Author: Ian Bruce Rider Gillingham; Reed College (Portland, Or.) Division of History and Social Sciences. Linguistics Dept.
Publisher: 1994.
Edition/Format: Thesis/dissertation : Manuscript

OCLC WorldCat record
Do you want fries with that?
Author: Martyn Godfrey
Publisher: Toronto : Scholastic Canada, ©1996.
Edition/Format: Book : Fiction : Juvenile audience : English

Google Books
4 March 1996, New York magazine, pg. 6, col. 1 ad:
YOU WANT FRIES WITH THAT?
(...)
CHANNEL THIRTEEN
It takes your mind off the dumb stuff.

Google Groups: alt.computer.consultants
Newsgroups: alt.computer.consultants
From: (RainDanzer)
Date: 1996/12/29
Subject: Re: Gentlemen, It Must Be Told! - RETRY

Maybe he’s one of those having to work a McDonald’s today asking, “do you want fries with that?”

OCLC WorldCat record
“Do you want fries with that?”
Author: Jeffrey J Jarasitis
Publisher: 1997.
Edition/Format: VHS video : Thesis/dissertation : Manuscript : U-matic : English

OCLC WorldCat record
You want fries with that? : a collection
Author: Ken Hoffman
Publisher: Houston, Tex. : Winedale Pub., ©1999.
Edition/Format: Book : English

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Sunday, August 02, 2009 • Permalink


I was taught this phrase at McDonald’s Hamburger University - Summer 1968.  The process is called suggestive selling.  The rule is only one to a customer.

Fries first.  If they have already ordered fries, “How about an hot apple pie with that.” Drinks, if not specified, “Will that be a large coke?”

This was back when McDonald’s still sold 15 cent hamburgers.  No super-sizing or even meals back then.

A bit more McTrivia - Customers could order their burger without a pickle, or no onions.  Counter persons were instructed to call out “Grill,” not “special” lest everyone in line realize they could have their burgers that way.

Neat site I stumbled upon tracking down bacon wrapped hot dogs.

Posted by Holly Moore  on  08/07  at  05:42 PM

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