English French Toast

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Alex Baumans, who sent us the photograph, has this to say about it:

This image popped up in my feed as an example of confusing signage. It certainly is confusing, apart from the English French toast, there is the mention 'American', the Spanish flag and the whole is made in China, not to mention the photo of a pizza.

At first I thought something was lost in translation, but then I noticed that the kana said Igirisu Furenchi Tōsuto (and there is also Doitsu (German) and a kanji* I don't know at the bottom, making it even more international). So English French Toast is apparently a thing.

[*VHM:  it's kaze 風 ("style")]

With a quick google I found indeed some recipes for 'English French Toast', which were variations on French toast with English style ingredients, such as muffins or bacon and mushrooms. The term English style French Toast seems to be more common, but English French Toast definitely exists.

This got me wondering whether this also held for other variations, and I tried googling both Japanese French Toast and Italian French Toast. These also turned up recipes along the same principle.

So it would seem that French toast is no longer seen as a compound.

I haven't really looked into names for variations on dishes, but my impression is that these tend to be variations on the original term, with different modifiers, especially when the original is understood as a compound. Hence hamburger has spawned beefburger, cheeseburger, fishburger and what have you.

Of course, in this case, if you lose the 'French' bit, it might get more confusing. 'English toast' can very well be a variation on ordinary toast, and not on French toast.

Mark Liberman adds:

This is not so much a bad translation as an odd accumulation of modifiers.

My question is how this type of toast became "French" in the first place.  For that matter, how distinctively French are French fries, French kisses, French letters, French dressing, and so forth?

Update: In the comments, Jamie points out that the image has been Photoshopped. Here's a comparison with the original image.

Selected readings


  1. AlexB said,

    September 5, 2022 @ 2:44 pm

    So it is German style English French toast?

  2. Jonathan Smith said,

    September 5, 2022 @ 2:49 pm

    So Spanish, American, German-style English French Toast?

    Tho "X-style" should be X ふう fuu, no?

    And wurz the pizza…

  3. Jamie said,

    September 5, 2022 @ 3:34 pm

    It appears to be photoshopped: https://twitter.com/kwinkunks/status/1565018553799086083 (there is a link to the original packaging there)

    An article on the origin of English French Toast in Japan: https://globalvoices.org/2015/02/12/hungry-for-a-meme-try-japans-english-french-toast/

  4. Guy Plunkett III said,

    September 5, 2022 @ 3:36 pm

    Years ago (when one didn't have a camera handy at all times) I passed a restaurant in San Fransisco, vaguely near Fisherman's Wharf, with a sign reading: "Chinese-American Hofbrauhaus, Irish Coffee our specialty." I tried to find it again when I had a camera with me, but failed …

  5. William Ockham said,

    September 5, 2022 @ 3:38 pm

    I feel compelled to point out that the best French toast is made from Texas Toast.

  6. Robot Therapist said,

    September 5, 2022 @ 3:51 pm

    Words fail me!

  7. Paul Topping said,

    September 5, 2022 @ 4:36 pm

    I grew up with an English version of what I later learned was called "French toast" in the USA. My mom called it "bread dipped in egg" and it was exactly that, fried in a frying pan with a little butter. It was served for breakfast without syrup or any other topping. "English French toast" would seem to be a descriptive, if somewhat awkward, name for it in places other than England or France. Don't know if this helps.

  8. Tim Rowe said,

    September 5, 2022 @ 5:20 pm

    I note that "English style ingredients, such as muffins" almost certainly refers to what Americans think are "English muffins", which are nothing like what we English folks think of as "muffins" (a type of savoury, part-raised flatbread, usually sourdough).

  9. Kosciuszko said,

    September 5, 2022 @ 5:41 pm

    Still, why the Spanish flag, pizza etc., up to the Russian colors under the text?

  10. Philip Anderson said,

    September 5, 2022 @ 5:46 pm

    @Paul Topping
    I’ve met it as “eggy bread”; I don’t know if it’s exactly the same, since I try to avoid egg dishes. But I learnt the hard way that a “Spanish tortilla” is not the same as a Mexican tortilla!

  11. Stephen Hart said,

    September 5, 2022 @ 6:09 pm

    In junior high school (yes I'm dating myself) a neighbor family moved from the Midwest to Seattle. They served "fried bread," which, as a 13-year-old, I assumed was Midwestern for "French Toast." But no, it was slices of bread fried in oil or butter and served with syrup.

  12. David L said,

    September 5, 2022 @ 7:57 pm

    Growing up in England in the 60s and 70s, we had both fried bread (as Stephen Hart says, a slice of bread friend in butter or lard) and eggy fried bread, the same thing Paul Topping describes.

    I didn't learn about French toast until I came to the US.

    In other news, I recently learned about a bid in bridge that is called, in England, South African Texas.

  13. Anthony said,

    September 5, 2022 @ 8:55 pm

    During a brief period in Columbus, Ohio, I became a fan of Texas Toast, which was seemingly served with every meal on High Street. Long resident in the Midwest, I've never seen it elsewhere. One can buy it frozen, somewhat incongruously under the "Pepperidge Farm" brand.

  14. Paul McCann said,

    September 5, 2022 @ 9:51 pm

    Another food product with similarly confused naming was the "Nagoya Meshi Taiwan Ramen – American" that came out a few years ago.


    "Taiwan Ramen" is a style of spicy ramen that originated at a shop in Nagoya. When you order the ramen it has different spice levels, of which "American" is the lowest (the higher levels are Italian and African).

    Another related meme is the crab pictures, where a photo of a crab is labeled "shrimp", "octopus", "sea urchin", etc. in different scripts.


    You can find more similar images by searching 矛盾塊, it seems to have been a popular meme format for a while.

  15. Victor Mair said,

    September 5, 2022 @ 10:05 pm

    @Jonathan Smith

    Tho "X-style" should be X ふう fuu, no?

    Yes, it should be "Doitsu fū".

  16. Peter Taylor said,

    September 6, 2022 @ 4:40 am

    In my childhood in south-east England, the phrase "French toast" referred to small slices of toasted bread. Not baguette: it was a cuboid loaf, but each whole slice was maybe 5cm / 2" wide and a bit taller. We used to buy packets of it in northern France on camping holidays, so maybe it was a term peculiar to my family. I was in my 20s if not 30s when I discovered that some people use the term to mean eggy bread, and since then I can never be confident of what it means in any given context without some very strong clues.

    For that matter, how distinctively French are French fries, …

    They're Belgian. I have seen it suggested that GIs in WWII either encountered them first in France or encountered them in Belgium but ignorantly thought they were still in France.

  17. Victor Mair said,

    September 6, 2022 @ 4:56 am

    From Nathan Hopson:

    As a suffix, 風 is similar to らしい (-rashii) or the more casual っぽい (-ppoi). It is distinct from 調 (-chō). 風 is often less substantive, more about image, perhaps close to "-ish." In contrast, 調 is more substantive and has a clearer art historical meaning, for example: "in the style of." So if you call something ロココ調 (rokokochō), that means it's a more or less faithful recreation of the Rococo style (ロココ様式 rokoko yōshiki). ロココ風 (rokokofū), on the other hand, just means that you reference or evoke Rococo-ness.

  18. David Morris said,

    September 6, 2022 @ 7:57 am

    'French' (or probably 'french') can be a verb meaning 'to kiss in that particular way', so maybe 'English french toast' is almost a clause similar to 'Scotch finger biscuits'.

  19. Coby said,

    September 6, 2022 @ 11:44 am

    French toast is called pain perdu in French, and in Louisiana it's called "lost bread", a literal translation. Just as cire perdue is called "lost wax". But in French perdu doesn't always mean, literally, "lost". For example, a non-returnable bottle or jar is called verre perdu.

  20. Philip Taylor said,

    September 6, 2022 @ 2:04 pm

    I can understand, Coby, why non-returnable bottles might be called verre perdu in France, and I rather admire the French for so doing, since it serves to draw attention to the fact that the glass must be broken, melted and re-cast if is to be re-used, but I am unable to understand the logic of pain perdu. Can you explain, please ?

  21. JJM said,

    September 6, 2022 @ 3:07 pm

    Philip Taylor: "I am unable to understand the logic of pain perdu. Can you explain, please ?"

    It's because bread that was stale and thus prone to being discarded was originally used to make "pain perdu".

    Here in Canada, it's also called "pain doré" – literally "golden bread" – because of how it looks when cooked.

  22. Dara Connolly said,

    September 6, 2022 @ 3:10 pm

    Philip, it's from a novel by Proust where the narrator is spurred to extreme nostalgia by the taste and texture – the warm liquid and crumb – of some eggy bread: "À la recherche du pain perdu"

  23. Michèle Sharik Pituley said,

    September 6, 2022 @ 7:22 pm

    Reminds me of a restaurant in San Mateo, CA called "Chez Marie Chinese Food and Donuts".

    (I don't remember if it was spelled as Doughnuts or Donuts.)

  24. David S said,

    September 7, 2022 @ 1:14 am

    French Toast doitsu style would have to be called “arme Ritter”(“poor knights”), or maybe “binbo samurai” in this case.

  25. AlexB said,

    September 7, 2022 @ 3:48 pm

    Here is a recipe for Spanish French Toast, so the model seems to be productive


  26. Don said,

    September 8, 2022 @ 7:19 am

    The Photoshop is a hilarious prank – I have seen similar packaging before and was always struck by its strangeness.

  27. Victor Mair said,

    September 8, 2022 @ 7:28 am


    But, as Jamie pointed out in the comments above, the "original" was quite strange enough already.

  28. Don said,

    September 8, 2022 @ 7:31 am

    That’s exactly why I appreciate the Photoshop: it seems to have been made by someone who appreciates the strangeness of the original and decided to humorously highlight it by adding to it.

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