One taste of these pizza tots and you’ll want to have lots! These are a Dantastic dish to serve as an appetizer for a watch party or just an easy meal after a long night out. These loaded pizza tots are endlessly customizable for making the pizza tots of your dreams. You can make these a meat lover’s pizza tots by throwing in some beef, sausage, and Canadian bacon. Or maybe you’d rather have a cheese lover’s pizza tots with provolone, ricotta, and goat cheese. The point is you can make these a hundred different ways if you so choose!
The year is 1954, F. Nephi Grigg, and his brother Golden have come to Miami beach from the border of Oregon and Idaho with a plan of action. The Fontainebleau Hotel Miami was the newest addition to Millionaire's row, a mesmerizing jewel of a hotel that’s decked out in extravagant features that would make a sultan blush. Conveniently, the Fontainebleau Hotel was the host of the 1954 National Potato Convention, and the esteemed guests were lining up for breakfast. Unknown to them, they were in for a new addition to the menu. Nephi and his brother had just negotiated with the hotel’s head chef to serve up a 15 pound bag of their latest potato creation. It took some bribing but the chef agreed to the brother’s scheme, the bag was cooked, and served as samples to the tables.
In Nephi’s own words, they were “gobbled up faster than a dead cat could wag its tail,” and like that America’s newest bite sized potato snack was born: the Tater Tot.
A year prior, the Griggs’ family potato plant in Northern Oregon was happy making nothing but frozen corn and french fries. Those were the money makers back then when Americans were getting more and more into frozen food. Originally Nephi and Golden started as simple farmers in Idaho, but when they saw the frozen food blow up they knew it was the future. They quickly mortgaged their farms and put a downpayment for a flash-freezing plant in Northeastern Oregon, paying $500,000 dollars for the space. That's about $4.5 million in today's money. The factory was located on the border of Oregon and Idaho, and that gave birth to their company's new name: Ore-Ida.
By 1951, Ore-IDa was the largest distributor of sweet corn in the United States but the cash cow they were on a missing was french fries. In 1946, J.R. Simplot figured out how to freeze french fries without turning them black, and because of that "small" advancement, he was already on the way to becoming a billionaire. The Grigg Brothers wanted in but they faced a technological hurdle. Machines could cut potatoes into fries but Nephi recalls that “we had a problem of separating the fries from the silvers and small pieces of potatoes that occurred [when] slicing the irregular shaped potatoes.”
One day at the factory, an equipment manufacturing company just showed up to demonstrate a prune sorter but Nephi and his plant superintendent Slim Burto chatted with them about a redesign that would eliminate the unwanted pieces of potatoes from the french fries. In the beginning, the scraps would feed livestock owned by the Grigg family, but these animals were getting epic proportions of potato product. Nephi wanted to turn his waste into a golden opportunity, and so off to the lab he went. He began smashing bits and scaps of potatoes together with new machinery that would be then be blanched, formed, cooked in oil, and frozen. A few adjustments, and naming with help of a thesaurus and some alliteration: the Tater tot was born. That brings us back to how our story began at that faithful breakfast.
The tater tot was a national hit, and quickly became a signature American food for many. Their legacy continues to this day. Whether you're having some tots with your burger to making these loaded pizza tater tots, you're bound to want a crispy one sometime soon.
The rest of the story folds out how you might imagine. Tater tots were a raging success, and have a legacy to this day. From having them with a burger to making loaded pizza tater tots, you’re bound to want a crispy one sometime soon.