Talkin’ Tots

Tots.

The staple of a school lunch diet in days of yore. And featured at snazzy dining establishments, to boot. Let’s talk tots.

Apparently, tots are “coming back” as a trendy food item. I tot-ally had no idea that these little cylinders of smushed-together potato pieces became so popular again in recent years.

Going back some time, the story behind the creation of tots in 1954 involves some surprising ingenuity. Just to prove that quite literally anything can be found on the Interwebs, Chowhound delves into the history of how tots went from leftover potato shreds to selling approximately 70 million pounds of tots in America every year.

I particularly like this tale about how Tater tots’ popularity took off thanks to some clever work by the food’s creators, brothers Nephi and Golden Griggs:

Tater tots, a term Ore-Ida smartly decided to trademark, made their debut at the 1954 National Potato Convention in Miami’s Fontainebleau Hotel, after Griggs bribed a chef to cook and serve them for the guests. It was a naturally grand setting for a naturally grand success and they hit grocery store shelves the following year. In terms of sales, over the course of the 1950s, Ore-Ida went on to gain over 25 percent of the frozen potato market, bringing sales to $31 million in 1964. This was in no small part due to their innovative use of spud scraps.

Just to recap, these small nuggets of potato scraps became famous thanks to a bribe to a chef at a high-end hotel, and now they can be found in every frozen food section in America. Sounds like a pretty good “investment!”

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