The Amazing History of How Tater Tots Became an American Favorite

Fried foods tend to gain cult-worthy followings. While French fries are commonly thought of as the ultimate fried potato option, there’s another dish that is one of America’s favorites. Tater tots. But how did this recipe come about, and what caused it to gain global fame?

Where did tater tots originate?

As the world adjusted to the way of peace after the culmination of the Second World War, something was cooking. In Ontario, Oregon, F. Nephi Grigg and Golden Grigg, who were the owners of Ore-Ida, were looking for a way to dispose of leftover slivers of cut-up potatoes. Their quest led them to various experiments to use these parts of the potato to earn a little more profit.

They decided to slice up the potato slivers, add some flour and seasoning, and then they pushed the mash through holes to create a shredded potato mixture. Combine them all up, and in 1953, the first tater tots were officially served.

Popularity ensued.

Tater tots have amassed an enormous following all over the world, but primarily in the United States. Statistics show that in the U.S. alone, Americans consume 70 million pounds of tots each year. This number translates to daily consumption of roughly 192,000 pounds of tots. However, this is not a surprise in a country where potatoes are among the most consumed foods. Additionally, on a larger scale, potatoes are the fourth most common type of food all over the world.

So what do you call them?

Like many other foods out there, tater tots also have many name variations depending on geography. Even back in 1953, the Griggs didn’t even have an official name. So what did they do? They held a great American contest to come up with a name, and that’s where the popular name of tater tots originated.

Clora Lay Orton won the competition with her famous name, and it was a term that loosely translated to “baby potatoes.” In 1956, these new potato inventions were sold for the first time under their new name. Since then, many other names have emerged to describe what most of us think of as tots. Some names you may have heard are baby potatoes, potato toes, potato rounds, potato nuggets, and taytoe tubes.

A lasting legacy.

Tater tots are deeply ingrained in the American identity. They rank as one of the most commonly consumed meals in almost every household in the United States. What started as an attempt to find an alternative for waste potato slivers resulted in a delicacy that would be loved and consumed by millions of people.

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Topics: Foods & Trends