Frispos - Original Carl's Jr. Fries | Junk Food Blog

15 January, 2008

Frispos - Original Carl's Jr. Fries

Most people have never heard of "Frispos", but they were quite popular in Orange County, CA, when they were the original french fries that Carl's Jr. served up during the 1970s and 1980s.

The french fries were crinkle-cut in shape, and had a consistency like mashed potatoes on the inside, with the crispy outer shell formed during deep frying. They were quite delish.

Actually, I've learned that Pup-n-Taco used to have them too.

Anyways, a few days ago when Carl Karcher passed away, I posted an article here on JFB announcing his death. Well, I also happened to post a similar article on another blog I write, "OCThen", but more geared to Orange County readers. (Link to that article).

Today someone posted a comment on that article that explained the secret of those unusual french fries, and the process by which they were made. He also gave the name, "Frispos"...

That french cry product was called "Frispos". My recollection is that the Frispos pellets came in a large bag, not unlike a bag of oats. We poured the dry Frispos into the top of the machine. When you pushed the button, it measured an amount of Frispos into a tube, injected warm water to form a paste and then it was pushed through a grate (think squeezing play doh out of one of those play doh machines) and as the Frispo "dough" came out the grate, a cutter went back and forth shaving off the "fries", which were then put into the fryer.

So with the name, I did a Google search, and found an article in the Riverside Press Enterprise, which also explained why Carl's Jr. stopped using Frispos. Basically, it was a logistical problem...

"Every step of the process was conducted in the kitchen (mixing, forming, cooking), which made it operationally labor-intensive and too difficult to sustain during times of heavy volume, which ran the risk of degrading the quality of the food presentation.

The crinkle-fries were phased out in favor of the conventional, shoestring French fries you find in our restaurants now."

So there you have it all you Carl's Jr. fanatics! The story of those fantastic crinkle-cut fries.


Anonymous said...

That's interesting! I, too, fondly remember the "frispos" and the amazing roast beef sandwich (with the entire pepper slapped on top) and miss both of 'em. They used to have weird, enormous soft drink containers for their largest size that looked almost like milk cartons.

God, those fries were good.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, I miss those fries. I used to write the company once a year or so and ask what happened to them, and never got a reply. I didn't realize it was actually specialized equipment -- I just figured the fry company went out of business or something. Wow.

I used to love the little ketchup tubs they had, too. You could stack 'em.

Anonymous said...

So... Is there any way possible of finding those fries (anywhere) again? was there a manufacturer of the product that Carl's Jr. made? I swear that if they marketed that the "old fries" were back there would be a rush on them... You're right those fries were good!

Anonymous said...


I was a manager for Arby's in MD.

We used Frispo's too. I believe Basic Home Foods was the maker of the product.

they tasted great hot, but once cold, terrible. they looked like Christmas trees when done.

Mike Marmer Germantown, MD

kathycat9 on 11/28/2008 06:38:00 PM said...

O.k. I'm serious now.. so they were reconstituted potatoes.. was there a company they purchased from? How to duplicate them? I know sound a little obsessed... but they were sooo good! I too have called Carl's Jr. Corparate offices and have asked about them and got no answer.. just an offer of coupons.. there has to be an answer folks... someone start a petition.. they could do a marketing campaign to all us "back in the day" people not nearly as consumed with this but.. oh yes.. the roast beef sandwich was so delicious too.. o.k. let's see a little action and maybe possibly some results? lol
(yes, I do have a life) smile

Anonymous said...

They MUST bring back the Frispos!!!! They were the best! Their sales would sky-rocket if they had a special promotion.

Anonymous said...

Go to Carls Jr. website and leave a comment about how you want Frispos to come back! Tell them that you think that their sales will go through the roof if they put Frispos back on the menu!

Anonymous said...

Those Frispos were nasty. I was a cook at Carl's Junior back in the seventies. One of our closing rituals was to throw the remaining Frispo dough in the fryer to make one giant Frispo Fry. I never liked to eat them as much as regular fries, but you could sure toss a giant Frispo fry a long distance.

Anonymous said...

I worked in a Carl's Jr. (Beach at Yorktown, HB, CA) in 1985 for a summer, and as I recall, the packaging and machinery read "Frispo" -- never pluralized as "Frispos." One would indeed haul a sack of Frispo pellets from dry goods storage, pour the entire thing into the hopper of the Frispo machine, press one button to mix and another to dispense. If you didn't shake the fry basket a bit, you would end up with a Giant Block o' Fries.

My best guess for those wishing to try home production is to get mashed potato mix, add water and create a stiff paste that will hold a peak. Then find some way to extrude the "fries." I'd try a pastry bag with a 3/8" or so piping tip (but work fast or your fries will all come out with different levels of done-ness. Maybe you could pipe them out ahead of time onto an oiled cookie sheet or something, but you'd probably mess them up trying to scrape them into the oil.

I don't recall if Carl's used vegetable shortening with added beef tallow like McDonald's, but having cut up my fair share of giant blocks of shortening on commissary days, I can definitely vouch for it basically being shortening.

Those roast beef sandwiches, by the way, were microwaved. Now you know why the buns were invariably soggy.

EdwoodCA on 4/11/2010 10:59:00 PM said...

J.R. Simplot supplied the bags of pellets at the Carl's Jr that I worked at on Barranca in Irvine in 1985. I don't recall the Frispo name on the bags of pellets, but I do recall that they came from J.R. Simplot. [I thought it was H.R. Simplot, but Google set me straight.]

Anonymous said...

I remember it was called frisBo, the machine said it on the tag. and it was about sept or oct of 1985 the change was made. I was their. no one liked the new fries.

Anonymous said...

I am working on a recipe. I will post when I get somewhere. I the meantime, and the best source I have found for info on this is, of course, the Frispo Patent;

Filed under "American Potato Company" which i found as the owner of the trademark "Frispo"


Anonymous said...

i use to work at carls jr i could not beleive to this day they did that took away those amazing fries i wish i could find them

Anonymous said...

Back in the day I was a Frispo Repair Tech. The Concept was from U.S. Military project. Where they wanted French Frys on board US Ships and Subs. the Potatoes were processed by Basic American Foods in Pocatela Idaho. I know for a fact because they used to send me there for training every year. The Potatoes were cooked and Dried then made into pellets. The machine was more complicated it re-hydrated the pellets in a cylinder with 135 degree water then compressed at which point they were extruded into a cutting die and a heavy fishing line type wire cut them into thikness. the Cutting die had eisth straight cut, crinkle and even cottage frys. if you need any more info contact me at

Post a Comment


About Steve

Affiliate marketer, blogger, website publisher, business owner, entrepreneur, motorcycle rider, living in sunny Southern California, who happens to love junk food, and makes money writing about it.

Favorite Quote:
"It's good enough for government work."
Favorite Drink:
India Pale Ale

My Twitter Feed

    follow me on Twitter

    Copyright © 2005-2011 Clear Digital Media, Inc. | Template designed by Simran