Tater Tots

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salindgren
Cheeseburger
RE: Tater Tots 2008/01/21 16:39:44
Ha. LegalLady does not like tots. She says "yuck!". Well you know what? My girlfriend is a lawyer, practicing in CA and NY, and she LOVES tater tots! Well, actually, she will eat ANY kind of potato. I guess I was right in my guess about the invention on the tot, using up parts. I still don't care, I LOVE them. As for LegalLady's suggestion for fresh homemade fries... I guess I will have to try this someday, TRUE FRENCH FRIES, the twice fried item. I need a little basket, a round one, that will fit in a pan of oil. Or better yet, in a pan of beef tallow!
-Scott Lindgren scottlindgren@netzero.net
PapaJoe8
Sirloin
RE: Tater Tots 2008/01/21 17:11:23
I still wana know the history of tater tots. Don, I'm not so sure Ore-Ida's potatoe mouth can be trusted. Maybe they stole the idea from Joe Keller?

Twice fried, we need the scoop Salin!

Oh, Ore-Ida onion tater tots, drop one in a bowl of chili, stir around a bit, but don't let it soak too long, mmmm.
Joe
mikez629
Cheeseburger
RE: Tater Tots 2008/01/21 17:15:31
You get 7-8 tater tots and squash them so they are flattened. Take homemade baked beans/spoon them over the tater tots and add cheeder cheese-try it---its goood!
Donna Douglass
Double Cheeseburger
RE: Tater Tots 2008/01/21 17:23:48
I don't know the history of Tater Tots, but the first we ever had them was when there was a chain of chicken places, that made broasted chicken and one of the sides was broasted potatoes, which were the same as what we now know as tater tots. They were delicious, as was the chicken. I can't recall the name, other than Broasted Chicken, and it was very good. I don't know how large the chain was nor what happened to it, but we patronized the one that was located in Worthington, Ohio. Our first experience with these delicious little potato morsels.

Donna
salindgren
Cheeseburger
RE: Tater Tots 2008/01/24 01:33:48
Okay, to PapaJoe8, I think I have another thread started, "REAL FRENCH FRIES". Looks like there are a couple of replies. What I want to know is where do you get beef tallow, like McDonald's used in the 1970s? I'm not married, have no kids, who cares if I drop dead from enjoying great fries?
-Scott Lindgren
Ort. Carlton.
Filet Mignon
RE: Tater Tots 2008/01/24 01:48:32
Dearfolk,
Love 'em! They beat those same old fries hands down.
One restaurant here in Athens -- Clocked! on West Washington Street -- always has Tater Tots, and lets customers sub them for fries at no extra charge... they'll even add Cajun spice to 'em (or a couple of other things) gratis.
Same is true of The Euclid Avenue Yacht Club on Euclid Avenue (DUH!) in Atlanta's Little Five Points.
Sure wish I had a few right about now.
Totting It Up, Ort. Carlton in Ever-Amazing Athens.
salindgren
Cheeseburger
RE: Tater Tots 2008/02/02 02:28:00

What’s For Dinner?

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ajc.com > Evening Edge
Chefs take the humble Tater Tot to the next level

By JOHN KESSLER
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 01/17/08

The Tater Tot held its debutante ball, fittingly, at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach. The swooping post-modern structure had itself just debuted in 1954, signaling the country's interest in new forms, new conveniences, new luxuries — all financed with infusions of postwar cash.

The coming-out event wasn't actually a dance in honor of a frozen food, but rather a breakfast at the National Potato Convention being held at the hotel. One attendee — F. Nephi "Neef" Grigg of Ore-Ida Foods in Idaho — had smuggled in a satchel of what would be his greatest invention.
Brant Sanderlin/Staff
(ENLARGE)
No matter how you spell it, Tater Tots are popular.

Brant Sanderlin/Staff
(ENLARGE)
Tater Tots are everywhere these days – on a menu near you, in recipes – and can come stuffed with cheese or even (chef's honor) foie gras.

Recipes
Tater Tot recipes: How to make your own and customize theirs.

• Tater Tot photo gallery

John Kessler
John Kessler writes food features and a column about food and more for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
E-mail John Kessler

Recent Kessler columns

* Can we just banish this distasteful appellation?
* Chefs take the humble Tater Tot to the next level
* A recovery from burnt jambalaya

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• Search AJC recipes

As Grigg recalls in his papers, he "bribed ... the head cook ... and arranged to have the Tater Tots cooked, placed in small saucers and distributed on the breakfast tables for sample treats."

The response?

"They were gobbled up," Grigg wrote, "faster than a dead cat could wag its tail."

Half a century later, the gobbling of Tater Tots continues unabated — to the tune of more than 3.6 billion annually. Grigg's solution for using up scrap generated from the processing of frozen french fries has become an iconic American food — snack, side dish, object of adoration. Each successive generation deepens our appreciation.

For baby boomers, the presence of Tater Tots signaled a happy equation in the school cafeteria: Tater Tots + Ketchup = Bliss. For Generation X, they became a ubiquitous comfort food — the stuff of casseroles, fish-stick Fridays and midnight munchies.

Now, a younger generation promotes Tater Tots as hipster bar food. The ultra-chill Clocked in Athens serves its tots as cocktail bites with blue cheese dip. The Vortex in Midtown hosts a monthly "Boozer Doodle and Tater Tot Extravaganza," in which would-be artists sketch burlesque dancers, drink to excess and help themselves to the endless single-item buffet. (As often as not, they sketch fetishized images of the tots; some can be viewed on www.flickr.com).

This generation also has definitively dropped the "tater." Following the example set by Napoleon Dynamite, the movies' patron saint of awkward youth, these fried snacks have become "tots" tout court in common parlance.

Fill it with foie gras

Once a popular food earns its retro cachet these days, the fine dining crowd can't be far behind. Don't believe it? Michel Richard — the great chef at Citronelle in Washington — has five little words to shake your soul:

"Tater Tot foie gras ravioli!" the chef exclaims by telephone. "I make the Tater Tot mixture, fill it with foie gras and then sauté it until it crisps. They're wonderful."

Fancy stuff aside, the French-born chef professes a fondness for the freezer-bag variety of this ultimate American bite in all its plainspoken goodness.

"I love Tater Tots like you get in a burger joint," enthuses Richard. "They're crunchy and crispy on the outside, and creamy and moist inside. Mmmmm."

So enamored was Richard of the little potato snacks that developing a technique to duplicate (if not improve) them has become a long and evolving professional project. The very first recipe in his James Beard Award-winning cookbook "Happy in the Kitchen" (Artisan, $45) — an homage called Spuddies — binds potato cubes with gelatin, which melts when fried. Creamy and crisp, but not exactly tot for tat.

So Richard abandoned that technique for a better one that, in fact, echoes the industrial process perfected by Grigg a half-century earlier. He barely steams Yellow Finn potato cubes, then packs them into a mold to cool, letting the expressed potato starch do the binding. He cuts the chilled mixture into bites and fries them twice — once at a moderate temperature to cook them through and then again at a high temperature to crisp the outsides. Creamier, crisper.

On menus high and low

Closer to home, some Atlanta chefs also make their own potato bites, though they stop short of dropping in handfuls of black Périgord truffle as Richard is wont to do. Gary Donlick at Pano's & Paul's prepares nutmeg-scented potato bites that he serves with wild mushrooms and strip steak. Ron Eyester of Food 101 in Morningside has fashioned crab-filled tots as an appetizer.

Yet the cultish surge in appreciation lies not in the whims of a few creative chefs but in the fact that so many drinking holes and joints have discovered that a hot, salty, greasy basket of tater goodness is the way to diners' hearts.

"There's something about that chemical tang of vegetable oil sliding down your throat that's so addictive," says a thoughtful Hillary Brown, the 30-year-old restaurant critic for Athens' Flagpole newspaper.

The Vortex tries to go the deep-fat fryer one better and serves a messy heap of chili-cheese tots, though this bodacious heap — neither crunchy nor creamy — offers little beyond ballast.

With recipes, texture must be the first consideration. Tater Tots can never be a food of the moment like chili-cheese fries, nachos or still-popping Rice Krispies enjoying their first contact with milk.

No, as millions of Midwesterners can attest, Tater Tots show a gentler side to their personality when smothered and baked. Tater Tot hot dish appeals for its pillowy, potato-y insides as much as its crisp surface.

Always popular

Consider the "Tomminator" — an amalgam of tots and Brunswick stew sheathed in a thick cloak of melted cheese that has become the signature dish at Fox Bros. BBQ in Inman Park. It is fine when fresh from the kitchen, but distressingly delicious after five minutes when the tots have surrendered all integrity.

Sheila Devaney of Chapel Hill, N.C., says the vegetarian Tater Tot casserole she learned to make while living in Georgia "is always the first thing gone when you bring it to a potluck at work. But if there's any left, it's even better the next day for breakfast."

Not content with casseroles, a growing subculture of home cooks has begun shredding potatoes and hand-forming their own tots — debating Richard's recipe along with a number of others floating on cooking Web sites.

Devaney considers such efforts ridiculous, if not anathema to the essential appeal of Tater Tots: their ubiquity.

"Why would you ever make your own?" she gasps in disbelief. "Just go to our friends at Ore-Ida. They can hook you up!"

Editor's Note: References to Tater Tots and tots are used with permission from the H.J. Heinz Co.

Tots trivia

• Before F. Nephi Grigg invented the Tater Tot, Ore-Ida used its potato scraps as cattle feed.

• The first test marketing consisted of an Ore-Ida executive traveling the country to hand out samples and play the ukulele while people ate.

• The alliterative name was coined with the help of a thesaurus and, yes, it's a registered trademark. There are many fried potato snacks but — hail! — only one Tater Tots.

• The Idaho Legislature passed a resolution in 2005 commending the "Napoleon Dynamite" filmmakers that reads, in part: "tater tots (sic) feature prominently in this film thus promoting Idaho's most famous export."

• Ore-Ida, a subsidiary of H.J. Heinz, produces several varieties, including onion Tater Tots and mini-Tater Tots.

— John Kessler
PapaJoe8
Sirloin
RE: Tater Tots 2008/02/02 09:33:24
Wow, lots of tater tot info!

My questions are, what year did Oreida invent the tot, and what year does anyone remember them being sold by a restaurant, drive in, or food consesion? I know Keller's sold them in the 50s but not sure what year. I saw 1954 up there somewhere in Salins post.
Joe
cleanmonk
Junior Burger
RE: Tater Tots 2008/03/03 14:29:28
i love tater tots !!!!
2005Equinox
Cheeseburger
RE: Tater Tots 2008/03/17 03:25:43
I would rather have them over french fries anyday. I either deep fry them or cook them on our American Harvest Jetstream oven. That way they are evenly cooked. The oven is acceptable but they then cook more on one side than the other. Tater Tots are one of THE best things ever.
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