Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tater Tots! You're Back!

I saw you just yesterday on the menu at Britt's Barbecue, El Segundo (previously reviewed.)  I was so surprised to see you!  Yes, I know - supermarket frozen section have tons of you, but I haven't bought any for at least 30 years.

You see, this is how that happened.  In the first blush of being a newly-wed, I served you at dinner one night.  Richie poked disdainfully at you (apologies) and said, "I don't like these; let's not have any more of them"  So we didn't.  Which brings up the question - what happened to MY mind!?  To be obedient for 30 years? 

Anyhow, the next time I saw one of you was on the children's buffet at Ports O Call.  Uh, you don't really stay crisp in a steamer pan.  Might want to talk to management about that ...

A day later, still bemused by the Tater Tots on Britt's menu, I got curious about you.  Are you an old German snack?  Potatoes seem to be popular there...

Here's what I learned - I know you know it, but correct me if I'm wrong anywhere here.  Wikipedia is not always the best source.

Ore-Ida (now a division of H. J. Heinz) invented the forerunners in 1953.  Essentially Tater Tots are leftovers - potato scraps and slivers left over from making other potato products.  With the addition of some spices and flour, they were missed up and shot through an extruder to form what we see today.

They were finally ready for market in 1956 and sold as "Tater Tots" named by a female employee in a contest.    But they were sold so cheaply that people were suspicious and wouldn't buy them.  So up went the price and out the door went the Tater Tots.  People are funny, aren't they? 

 Today 70+ million pounds of them are sold every year in the U.S.  Australia and New Zealand call them "Tator Gems."  Canadians eat "Potato Crunchies."  They also come in disc shape which are topped with cheese or chili. 

"Don't serve them any more?"  You should have seen him roar through the basket we were served at Britt's.

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