by Samantha Davis
To say her early career choice of a chef struck Samantha’s family as odd is an understatement. She was one of the pickiest eaters in her family up until one fateful day at Subway when she ordered a normal sandwich with lots of vegetables (no tomatoes, still her last holdout to not be on a sandwich) because on a previous visit to the shop, the sandwich maker had laughed at her order of a tortilla with turkey, cheddar, and black olives. Samantha wanted desperately to only eat black olives and canned beets. The occasional fresh vegetable was force-fed, and rice was known to make an appearance.
But Samantha was absolutely crazy for any kind of potato, especially the superior creations of hash browns and tater tots.
Below Samantha tells us about the superior creature:
I lost my kitchen job early in the pandemic, and I was already living with my parents. By cooking more and more from home, we were able to rediscover the true majesty of the Tater Tot. Soft and pillowy potato centers with a crisp, salty, and buttery crust truly are not equal in the food pyramid. Tots are so American, that they were invented because Ore-Ida: the French fry company- needed to use up their scraps from cutting said fries. Even more American is the fact that the company had to raise the price on tots to get customers to buy them. I believe that tater tots became the OTS (One True Side) when Ore Ida was bought by Heinz – the ultimate condiment company. Heidi Billotto of “The Charlotte Weekly” says that as of 2009, Americans ate close to 70 million pounds per year. However, I feel that my family might have surpassed this number. Remember to eat your tots, and bring tater tot casserole to Thanksgiving.
Texan turned San Diegan, Samantha Davis, is a former semi pastry chef now pursuing a degree in Bioarchaeology with a focus on foodways of the past. When she’s not digging through people of the past’s trash, you can find her baking, hiking, or working on her podcast on food history.