Have a birthday celebration coming up? Or just want to celebrate Labor Day in true, patriotic style? May I present Million Dollar Birthday Fries! Ironically, there are few things more American than French fries. Add little American flags and a dollar sign sticking out of them and a couple of sparklers and you have an all-out celebration. Plus, the $ makes it feel even more appropriate for Labor Day, since most people get their money from, well, labor, right? But before I get carried away trying to convince you to make a fry/hat combo, let’s talk about the Simpsons episode that birthed this culinary masterpiece.
“Bart Sells His Soul” from season 7 is considered by many Simpsons writers and critics to be one of the series’ best ever, and it’s easy to see why. It’s surprisingly dark and deep while still being clever and hilarious. The episode begins with Bart switching out the usual church hymn with “In the Garden of Eden” by “I. Ron Butterfly,” and seventeen minutes later Reverend Lovejoy finally figures out that they’ve been singing rock and/or roll. During Bart and Milhouse’s punishment, a philosophical argument leads Bart to sell Milhouse his soul for $5 (“Where’d you get five bucks? I want five bucks!”). Through a series of unfortunate events—like a lackluster hug from Marge—Bart realizes that he needs his soul, and begs Milhouse to sell it back to him. Unfortunately Milhouse exchanges Bart’s soul to Comic Book Guy for Alf pogs (“He’s back, in pog form!”), but Lionheart Lisa buys it and Bart and his precious soul are reunited.
Meanwhile, business is lackluster per usual at Moe’s Tavern, and after Dr. Hibbert’s family mistakes the bar for a family restaurant, Moe gives the dive bar a makeover. Now called “Uncle Moe’s Family Feed Bag,” the lively restaurant serves mostly-fried American grub to demanding families. There’s kooky stuff on the walls, colorful booths, and gimmicks galore. One of the restaurant’s said gimmicks, and our spotlight dish, is “Million Dollar Birthday Fries.” Whenever a kid orders them (presumably on their birthday), a blaring alarm goes off and Moe appears with sparklers and a basket of hot fries attached to his head while talk-singing this song:
Here you go. Here I am, Uncle Moe
Thank you, ma’am
This’ll be a treat
Uncle Moe, here I am, while you eat!
After too many birthday fry hat orders and Moe’s general dislike of children, the restaurant fails and the space effortlessly transitions back to being a crappy bar. But not before I went back and watched the flashy fries and the song a few times. It was downright inspirational. Mmm…inspirational.
Below is a play-by-play of how to make your very own Million Dollar Birthday Fries. I was willing to assume that Moe did not make his fries from scratch, but rather deep fried some frozen ones, so that’s what I did. You could totally bake them, but that wouldn’t exactly be true to Uncle Moe’s restaurant philosophy. If you want to make your own fries, then who am I to stop you? This is a good place to start.
And yes, I wore a fry basket on my head. I may have even eaten fries out of it while it was on my head. So sue me! We all know Homer would approve.
Million Dollar Birthday Fries
Frozen French fries (that include frying directions)
Oil like peanut, canola, or vegetable
Large, heavy pot or deep fryer
Large slotted spoon
String or strap
Little American flags
Dollar sign decoration (I made one)
Fry those fries! Check the instructions on the back of your frozen fries and then keep them in the freezer until it’s frying time. If you are frying without a deep fryer, use a heavy, large pot and fill about ? of the way with oil. Heat to the designated temperature (my bag said 350) and, using a slotted spoon or tongs, carefully lower a few spoonful of fries into the pot. It’s important not to drop the fries in, since the oil will definitely splash and it is very, very hot. It’s also important not to overfill your oil, since the frozen fries may cause the oil to pop. And it’s important not to add too many fries at one time, since they will lower the temperature of the oil and make your fries limp and disappointing. Fry for the designated amount of time and until crisp (mine took about 5 minutes), and use your slotted spoon to carefully remove your fries to a stack of paper towels. Add salt if needed.
Make your million dollar basket! Use a long piece of string and weave it through one end of the bottom of the basket and through the other end. Use your head to gauge the length needed to fit comfortably around your head and tie the string securely. Even better if you have a strap of some kind (aren’t you fancy!).
Line the basket with a towel and pour in your fries. Poke a few American flags in there and a big dollar sign and you’ve got the world’s best party hat. Sparklers optional, song is not.