Yes, really, in Germany!
When we arrived in Germany (the first time) in 2008, I thought for sure the attendant at McDonalds screwed up when she gave me packets of mayo with my order of fries. My husband (who was then on his THIRD tour in Germany) laughed and informed me that’s the condiment of choice in most of Europe.
I thought YUCK! But I tried it and loved it! Even when we returned to the states in 2012, I preferred Mayo to Catsup more often. Supposedly Mayo actually compliments the flavor of the fried potatoes whereas Catsup tends to make them soggy and less flavorful.
"I thought YUCK! But I tried it.... and loved it!"
ARE FRENCH FRIES REALLY FRENCH?
Although Belgium is petitioning Unesco to endorse the fry as an official icon of Belgian cultural heritage, we probably won’t ever know the dish’s true origins. The French (and many historians) will dispute Belgium’s claim.
There is no absolute proof , but while the French were known to perfect the art of deep fat frying, the Belgians most likely perfected this french fried potato snack. In Europe they were never known as French Fries but as Pomme de Terre Frittes latter shortened to "Pomme Frittes" and even just "Frittes".
IS MAYO FRENCH?
Again, the French will duke it out with Spain for ownership, but most documentation suggests it was a French concoction. There is no question that the French popularized the sauce. Starting in the very early 19th century, the word mayonnaise (or magnonnaise) began to appear in German and British cookbooks dedicated to French cuisine. Talk of mayo quickly made its way to the United States, often on the lips of migrating French chefs, such that by 1838 the gourmet eatery Delmonico’s in Manhattan was offering both a mayonnaise of lobster and a chicken mayonnaise.
Handmade mayonnaise rapidly became very popular: Spurred by the enhancements in refrigeration, hundreds of industrial manufacturers flooded the packaged mayo market. Hellmann’s, a New York City brand with fat jars that could accommodate giant spoons, came to dominate the sector. “Mayonnaise, which had heretofore been considered a luxury, became a staple and a table necessity, not only in the homes of the rich, but also at the workingman’s table,” observed an industry publication in 1937.
INTRODUCING HELLMAN'S (First to Market!)
Hellmann’s got its start when a German immigrant, Richard Hellmann, began selling his wife’s version at his deli in New York in 1905. It ld under the Best Foods mayonnaise label west of the Rockies.) The company changed hands several times and is now owned by Unilever, which bought it in 2000.
Other brands (specifically Kraft) have not been successful in their attempts to gain on Hellman’s 33% market share, which marketers attribute to Hellman’s being first to market!
So, unless ordering with chili and cheese, most Americans just assume catsup will be served with their fries, but I think mayo could change their minds if they would try it! I am not really a fan of sweet potatoes, but sweet potato fries served with a chipotle mayo? YUM!!!
Here's a link to a pretty cool web page that addresses (with photos) how French Fries are prepared and the condiments with which they are served around the world.