Tater Tot Observes 50th Anniversary

Published online: Jan 10, 2005
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It may have been a Johnny-come-lately potato product and never reached the fame of its cousin the french fry, but the Tater Tot, developed in 1954, quietly observed its 50th anniversary last year.

The Griggs Brothers (Golden and Nephi)--the founding fathers of Ore-Ida in Ontario, OR,--were seeking ways to more fully utilize the potatoes grown for their booming french fry business.

Starting in 1934, the brothers cleared a patch of sage brush in eastern Oregon and without resource or money, grew sweet corn. They peddled gunny sacks of ears door-to-door. By 1946, they had purchased large transport trucks to supply the demand they had created for their corn and other produce.

By 1948, the Grigg Brothers were the largest distributors of sweet corn in the U.S., using refirgereated rail cars to ship produce to many major cities.

Another growth opportunity came in 1951 when they purchased a frozen food plant on the Oregon-Idaho border at Ontario. In reference to the location, they called the company Ore-Ida. This added potato products to their corn business in a major way.

"From their own experiments with a few slivers of potatoes, Tater Tots were born. Little did they know that the bite-sized golden nuggets would create a 20th century 'gold rush,' and become an American icon with lasting appeal across many generations," a H.J. Heinz press release stated. 

The Grigg brothers later sold Ore-Ida to Heinz. Today, their sons, Gary and Mark, have successfully developed organic and amino-acid-based fertilizers and liquid nutrients characterized by selected natural organic complexing and chelating agents for true foliar and soil-based applications.

The foliar fertlizers in the Grigg Brothers product line are designed for plant growth and health. This year they are introducing a a line of granular fertilizers for the golf course market.