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Slam dunk for fans of fry sauce

Just about everything has its price, and for fry-sauce lovers, it's now $2.99 for a 12-ounce bottle.

After hearing from hundreds of customers and mailing out thousands of packets to former Utahns now scattered across the globe, Arctic Circle is now selling bottles of fry sauce from its Utah stores. Yes, in the privacy of your own fridge, you, too, can own what some folks consider the king of condiments.

But the actual recipe for this mayo-ketchup concoction for dunking fries and slathering burgers remains almost a secret on par with Kentucky Fried Chicken's 11 special herbs and spices.

"There's only one original fry sauce, and Arctic Circle has it," said Gary J. Roberts, Arctic Circle president, who boasts that fry sauce runs in his veins.

Travelers from out of state are often mystified by the question, "Do you want fry sauce with that?" A lot of fast food spots and mom 'n' pop burger joints have their own version of fry sauce, but it's generally credited as the innovation of Don Carlos Edwards, who in 1950 opened his first Arctic Circle on 900 South and State. This was in the heyday of drive-ins with car-hops, and the original Arctic Circle was the turn-around point for teens dragging State Street.

Car-hops have been replaced by drive-through windows, and Arctic Circle's operations currently span eight states in the West, with 85 stores. Fry sauce has since become a collector's item. When the 2002 Olympic fry sauce pins debuted, they sold out within two weeks, said Roberts. "I wish I would've bought more myself."

Roberts has had plenty of requests for the recipe, and so have I during the 10 years that I've been a food writer. To me, it's not that big a deal — a little ketchup, a little mayo, maybe a dash of garlic or onion powder. Or as some suggest, a few drops of pickle juice. But, I'm no fry-sauce connoisseur, as some folks apparently are.

About five years ago (when I was working at a different newspaper) I wrote that Roberts wouldn't divulge the recipe but was willing to send a few sample packets from his Midvale headquarters to those who don't live near an Arctic Circle. Roberts said he was swamped with requests from nearly every spot on the globe. One woman in Los Angeles ordered a case of it to present to her fry-sauce-loving new husband at their wedding.

"I still get two or three letters a week from people who have moved and claim they are having fry-sauce withdrawals," he said. "We've been sending out the free packets as a novelty, just as a fun thing to do. But the person doing it was getting tired of it and asked if there was something else we could do."

Now that it's been captured in a bottle for consumers, recipe detectives can do a little sleuthing by reading the ingredients label. Ingredients are always listed in diminishing order. But I'm thinking the first 12 ingredients make up the ketchup and mayo (tomato concentrate, soybean oil, whole egg, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, water, egg yolks, sugar, salt and lemon juice concentrate.) After that, it says "onion powder, spices and natural flavors." But what kind of spices and natural flavors? Well, that's still a secret.

Those watching their weight may want to know that a tablespoon of fry sauce has 50 calories, 45 of them pure fat.

The bottled sauce has sold well since it came out about three weeks ago, even luring people in to buy burgers and shakes while they're there, said Roberts.

"Now people may, just because of convenience, get their fries at McDonald's and take them home to eat with our fry sauce," Roberts said. "But they're thinking of Arctic Circle when they do it."


E-MAIL: vphillips@desnews.com