Where Were Tator Tots Created? In Oregon Or Idaho?

Napoleon Dynamite might've elevated the profile of the beloved tator tot and Idaho might be the obvious birthplace but you'd be surprised to discover that Oregon has that claim to fame.

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One Small Oregon Town Is The Birthplace Of Tator Tots?

In 1952, brothers Theodore Golden Grigg and Nephi Grigg created Ore-Ida Potato Products in Ontario, Oregon. The Griggs were using a redesigned prune sorter to mechanically separate the fries from leftover potato scraps. These scraps were initially used as cattle feed, but Nephi Grigg saw potential in them and wasn’t happy with the wasted product.

By Not credited. - Scanned from old post card, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17891665
By Not credited. - Scanned from old post card, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17891665
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The brothers began experimenting, and after mixing the potato scraps with flour and seasonings, extruding the mixture through holes in a plywood board, and blanching, quick frying, and freezing the result into nuggets, Tater Tots was born.

In 1954, Nephi Grigg took a fifteen-pound bag of their invention to the National Potato Convention in Miami Beach. He persuaded the convention hotel kitchen staff to serve up samples at breakfast, and they were a massive hit.

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There are several stories of how Tater Tots got its name. Some say it was because of its tiny size, similar to a tot, while others say it was because of the word “tater” being slang for potato. However, Steve Grigg, Nephi’s son, prefers the version in which Ore-Ida employee Clora Lay Orton came up with the name in a factory-wide contest.

As they say, the rest is history, and now you know that one little Oregon town created perhaps the most delicious food item ever.

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