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French Fries Man

On my way to work there’s one of these things. I don’t really know what to call it. It’s a sculpture of an anthropomorphic cone of fries, standing about four or five feet high, and it’s eating itself, one chip from its head-opening in hand and in mouth. The other hand offers a thumbs up: ‘I taste good.’ It looks drunk, one eye half closed, expression glazed, staring into the greasy middle-distance.

It’s an advert for a cafe that I’ve never noticed to be open, at a busy junction with multiple roads and bike lanes, an overhead train line and a canal dotted with floating homes. Nobody stops here. I only really register its existence because I usually have to wait for the lights. Its part of the ambience of my routine. I work short cleaning shifts early in the morning at a rock climbing centre, then do short sessions of climbing at night, for free, it’s one of the perks. Climbing gets me out of the studio, helps me unwind.

You can buy these things for about a grand, they’re made of commercial grade fibreglass and resin. One website calls them French Fries Man, another Large French Fries Statue. Also available are a Catfish Chef and a Large Hotdog Statue which suggestively lathers itself with condiments, tongue out. French Fries Man is pretty ubiquitous - a typical example of the genre. A friend sends me a series of pictures from a day trip to a seaside town: in one of them French Fries Man looks teasingly not quite into camera, the words ‘De Lekkerste’ (‘the most delicious’) framed in the cafe window behind him. This is its natural environment, small seaside towns where the summer economy engorges itself on tourists.

After receiving the picture I make sure to look properly at French Fries Man on my way to work the next day. Only, I’ve misremembered. It’s another version of the same thing and it has no face. It’s just a cone of fries.

Fries sm.jpg