The term French fried potatoes for ‘deep-fried chipped potatoes’ is first recorded in 1894, in American writer O. Henry's Rolling Stones (‘Our countries are great friends. We have given you Lafayette and French fried potatoes’). From the beginning it probably denoted a thinner-cut fried potato (known in French as pommes pont-neuf, or more broadly as pommes frites, ‘fried potatoes’) than the sturdy British chip, and in the post-Second World War period the term, and its abbreviation French fries (or occasionally French frieds), have become increasingly established in British English for the crisper matchstick-style chip.
From: French fries in An A-Z of Food and Drink »
Subjects: Society and culture — Cookery, Food, and Drink