Potato Use: All About America's Favorite Vegetable
(Page 2 of 3)
French fries are also one of our country’s hottest exports. In Japan, the largest importer of frozen fries from the United States, consumption has increased by four times over the past 10 years, according to the U.S. Potato Board. Consumption of fries has also risen by 400 percent in the past five years in Korea and tripled in Hong Kong over the last decade.
George Crum, a cook from Saratoga Springs, New York, is credited with creating potato chips in 1853, after a patron complained that his fried potatoes were sliced too thick. Crum returned to the kitchen, cut a potato into paper-thin slices and fried them in hot oil, thereby inventing an indispensable ingredient of the American lunchbox. Today, we consume an average of 19.3 pounds of potato chips per person per year.
Tater Tots were invented in 1951 by F. Nephi Grigg, who, with his brother, Golden, founded Ore-Ida. The Griggs started out manufacturing french fries, which involves cutting potatoes into long rectangular slices, leaving shavings that were, at the time, sold for livestock feed. Nephi decided to grind the shavings and mix them with spices, thereby producing deep-fried potato nuggets. The rest, as they say, is history.
Over the years, the road from the potato field to the dinner table has been filled with achievers like Luther Burbank, who developed the first blight-resistant potato, and Herman Lay, who, in 1932, founded the first nationally marketed potato chip brand.
One of the most successful potato entrepreneurs was an Idaho farm boy named J.R. Simplot, who quit school at age 14 to work as a potato sorter in a packing shed. He soon saved enough money to rent 40 acres of potato ground and begin raising hogs. In the coming decades, he invested in potato equipment, farms and warehouses, feedlots and fertilizer plants, and potato and onion processing plants. During the 1960s, he became friends with a fellow named Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s, and went on to become the single largest supplier of frozen french fries to the world’s largest fast-food chain.
So, is there any room left for one more potato entrepreneur? I’m thinking of launching a line of potato gift boxes, sort of a spud version of those fancy gift boxes of fruit. In fact, I’ve already done the test marketing.