Simplot's answer to the needs of the restaurant industry was a special institutional package which contained 30 pounds of frozen French fry strips. Although the French fries in consumer packages were fried to a nearly finished color because they were designed to be heated in the oven by the housewife, the restaurant kitchen was equipped with a fryer and could reconstitute the frozen French fried potatoes much-more quickly and with a better flavor and texture.
The first lots of institutional French fries were prepared to the finished color that the retail product had demanded. This proved to be a problem since the restaurant cook could simply not adapt to the idea of removing a basket of French fries from the deep-fat fryer after they had been in the boiling fat for as short a time as a minute-and-a-half. The product began to find acceptance when the institutional color was held back to a partially cooked state and the restaurant cook was required to fry the potatoes slightly longer to develop the golden skin that appeals to the consumer's eye. Although acceptance and growth of demand seemed slow in the initial stages, frozen French fried potatoes has been one of the outstanding food product successes of all time.
The improved quality and convenience of this item soon made it the number-one selling item in frozen-food departments of most supermarkets. Restaurants and institutions across the country also converted to the use of frozen French fried potatoes very rapidly.
New processors entered the field and existing ones built new plants and expanded production facilities each year in an attempt to keep up with the burgeoning demand. Along with a growth and demand for frozen French fried potatoes, a number of other frozen specialty products were developed.
Ore-Ida Foods introduced an extruded-shredded item that they named Tater Tots® and other processors soon developed their own versions. It was deep fried and had the flavor and eye appeal needed to make it an almost-instant success.
Although the original concept of frozen French fries was for one size and style of cut, this first model was soon joined by a crinkle-cut strip that was appealing to the eye and exposed more potato surface to the frying fat to provide additional fried potato flavor. Cuts and sizes proliferated until the institutional customer could find almost any style and size to suit a personal whim.