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French fry fight: Regular cut or crinkle? Livid diners hate Maine restaurant’s change

Bolley’s Famous Franks in Waterville, Maine, made a change to its menu that got customers so angry and threatening it had to release an official statement. The diner replaced crinkle cut French fries with straight cut.
Bolley’s Famous Franks in Waterville, Maine, made a change to its menu that got customers so angry and threatening it had to release an official statement. The diner replaced crinkle cut French fries with straight cut. Facebook/Bolley's Famous Franks

A hot dog joint in small-town Maine switched from crinkle cut French fries to regular cut recently, and the food fight that ensued got so out of control that the police stepped in to warn everyone: No “throat-punching” over fries.

The French fry furor festered in Waterville, home of Bolley’s Famous Franks.

In late June, the diner replaced the wavy fries on its menu with straight cut fries, according to the Kennebec Journal, which has documented the drama still going on for new owners Leslie and Jim Parsons.

The couple reopened the restaurant last year after the family that started Bolley’s hot dog shops in the area closed the Waterville location in 2014, according to the Journal.

At first the Parsonses kept the crinkle cuts — which, judging by the cover photo on the restaurant’s Facebook page, were hunky, chewtastic, wavy wands of potato.

The new ones, the Journal described, are McDonald’s-thin, though the owners say they’re just as tasty as the crinkles.

The crinkle cuts just got too expensive to serve, Leslie Parsons explained on Facebook in early August as the uproar over the change hit a crescendo heard way beyond Maine. Fox News tried to get a comment from them on the controversy but was unsuccessful.

“So recently, within the last week, we have encountered some pretty disturbing and hostile customers apparently very unhappy with our straight cut French Fry,” she wrote on Facebook.

“While I fully understand the crinkle cut has been the long standing traditional fry of Bolleys, I was forced to make an unpopular business decision for reasons as a business owner one must make from time to time.”

She explained that the blades used to crinkle cut the homemade fries “are ridiculously pricey and flimsy. It takes many blades to operate the cutter and after sinking thousands, yes thousands, I chose to go with an alternative cut.

“They are still fresh cut daily. We still use the best potato in Maine. It is still a very expensive French Fry and our process minus the crinkle cut is still the same.”

The straight-cut fries the restaurant serves now are actually just the way Americans prefer them, according to a survey of 1,000 Americans last month for National French Fry Day posted on NationalToday.com.

Survey said: Regular cut are America’s favorite style of fries (21 percent), nearly tied with curly (20 percent), then followed by steak-cut (14 percent), crinkle and waffle (13 percent), and wedges (7 percent).

But the pro-crinkle fans at Bolley’s got so worked up over the change that one man threatened to fight Jim Parsons, the owner told the Journal, and he had to kick him out of the restaurant.

“People come in with a negative attitude that the fries aren’t going to be the same,” Jim Parsons told the Journal this week. “That’s a tough sale for us.”

In her statement on Facebook, Leslie Parsons made it clear she will “absolutely not tolerate being sworn at, threatened physical harm to myself, my husband and children. It is unacceptable here at Bolleys and should NEVER be tolerated anywhere.

“I apologize to the customers whom I know would much prefer the crinkle cut fry and have graciously accepted our change. I appreciate the feedback from those who have respectfully discussed the change. We have had much support for the change and many have been pleasantly surprised how much they prefer the straight cut!”

Many of the comments made on her post are from out-of-towners weighing in about how angry her customers got over French fries.

From Atlanta: “... anyone throwing a fit over FRIES?! Pathetic. Pull that crap down here in Atlanta and someone is liable to shoot you!”

From Florida: “If I were in Maine, I’d come and get 2 orders of fries just because.”

From Texas: “I would love to try an order of your new straight cut fries and I promise to use proper etiquette while ordering. Do you deliver to Texas? LOL. Your food sounds delicious!”

Fox News noted how even police nearly 60 miles away in Bangor, Maine, were compelled to “weigh in on the issue,” as the department wrote in a lengthy post about fries and franks on its Facebook page Wednesday.

“I am not going to judge the folks who are steeped in the tradition of crinkle-cut, but I will say we all need to get a grip on being angry with changes which displease us,” the post read. “We can argue the benefits, we can whisper quietly amongst ourselves about how we liked the ‘old way’ better.

“But we really cannot be fighting or throat-punching people over our differences, or the differences between straight and crinkle-cut. We just can’t.

“In the end, it’s not about Bolley’s fries at all, it’s about being civil to one another no matter what the issue. We ALL need to try a little bit harder. I am not saying we have to always act like Canadians, I am saying think before you threaten to throat-punch someone on Facebook, say thank-you and please more often.

“Accept the french-fries, no matter how they look.”

Sarah Gish visits the original Joe's Kansas City in Kansas City, Kan., where general manager Jerry Taylor shows off Joe's famous Z-Man sandwich, fries and other barbecue specialties.

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