Tater tots

Tater tots

David Sparks Ph.D.
David Sparks Ph.D.
In an effort to remind the world of the role members of his family played in the development of Tater Tots, Les Grigg has been traveling across the state of Idaho with a sheet of plywood with one-inch holes drilled in it.

The plywood artifact represents a replica of what is known in the history of Tater Tots as the Holey Board.

More than 70 years ago, three men –F. Nephi “Neef” Grigg, his brother, Golden T. Grigg, and Ross Erin Butler – were looking to develop a culinary use for the potato waste remaining after producing French fries at their Ore-Ida processing plant in Ontario, Ore.

Through trial and error, the three men created a pulpy mash that was then pushed through a plywood board with one-inch holes drilled in it  that came to be called the Holey Board.

This pulpy mash was deep-fried, creating the stubby potato side dish with a crunchy exterior that the world has known as Tater Tots since 1953.

Since then, Ore-Ida was purchased by the Kraft Heinz company in 1965 and in 2022 the J.R. Simplot Co. reached a multi-year agreement with Kraft Heinz to be the exclusive manufacturer and supplier of Ore-Ida, including Tater Tots.

Today the Holey Board can be found in a glass case on a wall at the Ontario facility.

Adopting the phrase, “Protect Your Tots,” Les Grigg and his cousin, Steve Grigg, this year founded the F. Nephi & Golden Grigg Legacy Foundation to remind the world of the role members of their family shared in the development of the Tater Tot and to raise money for a new domestic violence and sexual assault and child abuse center in Idaho Falls.

Les Grigg has been traveling across Idaho with a replica of the Holey Board to promote the inaugural Greater Tater Tot Festival scheduled for Aug. 16-17 at Sandy Downs in Idaho Falls.

He is teaming up with the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce (GIFCC) to promote the festival, which is free and will run from 5-9:30 p.m. on Aug. 16 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Aug. 17.

Michelle Covert, finance director for the GIFCC, said the chamber was looking for a summer event to celebrate the important role of agriculture in Eastern Idaho and when Les Grigg walked in to her office with the Holey Board, the chamber saw the synergetic potential to recognize agriculture and possibly raise awareness of domestic violence and child abuse.

“We were looking as a chamber to do a greater Idaho Falls event which would basically involve the whole area that the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber serves, which is Idaho Falls, Ammon, Iona and Ucon,” Covert said.

“We just really wanted to put together an event for the community that was going to be a fun day of activities,” she said.

This being the inaugural event, Covert said she’s unsure of crowd size but would like to see anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 in attendance over the two-day festival.

“We’re really hoping for a great success this year that will turn this into something that happens every year,” she said.

Les Grigg said they plan on having a ticketed, fundraising dinner with a silent auction on Aug. 16.

Live music, food trucks, and vendors are planned for both days, along with a variety of children’s activities, including an obstacle course.

For more information about the Greater Tater Tot Festival or if you’re interested in participating, contact Michelle Covert at (208) 523-1010, Ext. 4, or at finance@idahofallschamber.com or  Les Grigg at griggtatertot@gmail.com or (208) 589-0065.

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