National Chip Week is celebrated during the last full week of February, and will take place from February 20 to 26 this year. We’re going to celebrate by checking and trying out some of the best homemade chip recipes we can find. Did you know that Belgians have been deep frying potatoes since the 17th century before introducing fish and chips in the United Kingdom? National Chip Week is a brainchild of the Potato Council. The council is a trade organization focused on potato industry development in Great Britain. The week is one of the council’s annual awareness campaigns to encourage more people to eat chips and dispel its myths.
History of National Chip Week
The history of the humble chip that has now become part of Britain’s national identity can be traced to Belgium or France, depending on who you ask. One of the oldest pieces of evidence of potato fries in history was in 1680 Belgium, where people fried potatoes during the winter months to replace fish. In Belgium, the winter months were difficult periods when rivers would freeze up, preventing any fishing activity. During these months, locals would cut potatoes into fish shapes, and deep fry them to deal with fish shortages.
According to scholars, potatoes came to England in the 1800s from the New World. Sir Walter Raleigh was believed to have been the one that led the effort to bring this new food to the country. The earliest mention of something similar to British chips was in 1817 William Kitchiner’s book, “The Cook’s Oracle.” Kitchiner was a renowned chef during the 19th century, and his cookbook sold out both in the United Kingdom and the United States. However, it was Charles Dickens’ “A Tale Of Two Cities” that first made a clear reference to chips. In the 1860s, the first fish and chip shop opened for business in Mossley, Oldham, Lancashire. During the same time period, Joseph Malin, a Jewish immigrant, started his shop on Cleveland Way, offering fish and chips.
Between the 19th century and 20th century, fish and chips grew in popularity across the United Kingdom, becoming one of the populace’s favorite meals. During the Second World War, fish and chips played an important role. It was one of the non-rationed foods, complementing soldiers’ and the British people’s diets. Fish and chips are still one of the top ten most popular British dishes today.
National Chip Week timeline
Belgians cut potatoes into fish shapes, and deep fry them during winter.
Sir Walter Raleigh brings potatoes to England from the New World.
William Kitchiner publishes his cookbook, which includes a recipe for potato chips.
The Lee and Malin families launch their fish and chips shops in Oldham and London.
National Chip Week FAQs
What do the English call fish and chips?
Fish and chips have always been called ‘fish and chips’ in the United Kingdom. But people also use the modern slang ‘chippy’ for fish and chips shops.
What kind of fish do fish and chips contain?
It depends entirely on the fish and chip shop. However, cod is the most popular fish for fish and chips. Chefs, on the other hand, will choose for haddock.
Where is the oldest fish & chip shop in the world?
The shop trades under ‘The Oldest Fish & Chip Shop in the World.’ It is based in Yeadon near Leeds and has been operating since 1865.
National Chip Week Activities
Cook fish and chips
This is the best way to celebrate National Chip Week. While you can get this traditional British meal anywhere across the country, why not use this National Chip Week to try making them at home. To make the classic fish and chips at home, you will need a thick white fish (cod, haddock, or pollock) cut into fillets, flour, baking powder, cold dark beer, sparkling cold water, potatoes, vegetable oil, or lard for frying, and black pepper and sea salt to taste.
Go out for fish and chips
There are about 10,500 fish and chips shops spread across the United Kingdom. Go out of your way this National Chip Week and try the ones close to you. We assure you that it will be a fantastic experience, especially if you go with a friend. To get excellent service, you can mention that you are reviewing all the chippies in your area to find out which one makes the most delicious fish and chips.
Create a new recipe
Are you an iron chef when it comes to recreating classic fish and chips? Why not try something different this National Chip Week. Instead of the traditional cod, pollock, and haddock, use white fish not local to the United Kingdom. Also, experiment with different types of beer and new ingredients for taste. You can even go overboard and use entirely foreign ingredients to recreate the classic fish and chips.
5 Interesting Facts About Fish And Chips
Fish and chips shops are dwindling
The number of fish and chips shops in the U.K. have reduced to about 10,500 compared to 90 years ago when there were about 35,000.
The British love their fish and chips
They consume about 382 million portions of fish and chips yearly and spend up to 1.2 billion pounds annually on fish and chips.
They were a code in the war
During the D-Day Landings, British soldiers identified each other by calling out ‘fish’ and waiting for the other person to respond ‘chips.’
The highest portions sold in one day
Marini’s in Glasgow sold 12,406 portions of fish and chips in one day.
Fastest chips portions served from scratch
Henley’s Fish & Chip Shop in Essex prepared chips from scratch and served them in 222 seconds.
Why We Love National Chip Week
Chips are healthy
Chips are made from potatoes, which have been scientifically proven to provide various health benefits. Eating potato chips can help improve your bone health, lower your blood pressure, promote heart health, and increase immunity against the common cold.
Chips are cheap
For a meal that gives us so much deliciousness, memories, and health benefits, it’s relatively cheap. Depending on the city, a portion of fish and chips costs between £5 and £12. That's the best value for money when compared to pizza (£7-£15) and Chicken Tikka Masala (£6-£12).
Chips are part of the British tradition
Fish and chips rose to prominence during the Second World War when Prime Minister Winston Churchill referred to it as ‘the good companions.’ It was one of the few foods that were not rationed and one of the most eaten foods during that period. Over the years, fish and chips have become synonyms with British and are eaten during festive periods and special events.
National Chip Week dates