The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie in All 50 States

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Chocolate chip cookies are comfort food at its best: classic, simple and satisfyingly sweet. But taking a bite out of a stale, cloyingly sugary, or rock-hard cookie is a major bummer. These places bake some of the country’s best chocolate chip cookies though, no matter what state you live in.

1. ALABAMA // CHURCH STREET COFFEE & BOOKS

Cary Norton

Location:

Birmingham, Alabama

A coffee shop and bookstore hybrid, Church Street Coffee & Books serves an excellent chocolate chip cookie called the Breakup Cookie. Even if you’re not nursing your way through a recent breakup, the cookie’s chewiness, luscious melted chocolate chips, and salt sprinkled on top are sure to help you forget your troubles.

2. ALASKA // GREAT HARVEST BREAD CO.

Frank Flavin/Visit Anchorage

Location:

Anchorage, Alaska

Opened in 1994, Great Harvest Bread Co. serves fresh breads (they mill their own wheat) and cookies. Each day, Great Harvest sells an alternating lineup of specialty cookies, but their classic chocolate chip oatmeal cookies are so popular they’re available every day. Made with 100 percent whole grain and rolled oats, the cookies are sweet, filling, and even healthy-ish.

3. ARIZONA // SUPER CHUNK

Super Chunk

Location:

Scottsdale, Arizona

The husband/wife team at Super Chunk creates small batches of handcrafted mesquite chocolate chip cookies. Made with mesquite flour and nutmeg, the cookies have an earthy, smoky, and completely delicious taste.

4. ARKANSAS // DEMPSEY BAKERY

Dempsey Bakery

Location:

Little Rock, Arkansas

Housed in a 1940s building, Dempsey Bakery has offered specialty baked goods (that happen to be free of gluten, soy, and nuts) since 2011. Their classic chocolate chip cookie, which contains sorghum flour, white rice flour, and goat’s milk, is made fresh daily. Dempsey Bakery also serves the Jai Cookie, a dairy-free and egg-free version of their chocolate chip cookie.

5. CALIFORNIA // ERIN MCKENNA’S BAKERY

Sadiyya Ameena

Location:

Los Angeles, California

Formerly called Babycakes, Erin McKenna’s Bakery serves a unique vegan, gluten-free, and kosher chocolate chip cookie. Instead of the typical flour, eggs, and butter, Erin McKenna’s recipe contains garbanzo bean flour, fava bean flour, coconut oil, and applesauce, creating a surprisingly delicious and authentic tasting chocolate chip cookie … it might be even better than the “real” thing.

6. COLORADO // MERMAIDS BAKERY

Tomasz Stasiuk via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Location:

Denver, Colorado

Mermaids Bakery sells cakes, cupcakes, pies, and brownies, but their chocolate chip cookies are the best in all of Colorado. Although Mermaids offers a traditional chocolate chip, sea salt chocolate chip, and peanut butter chocolate chip cookie, the standout is their chocolate chip pretzel cookie, which is the perfect mix of sweet chocolate and salted pretzel pieces.

7. CONNECTICUT // SWEET MARIA’S

Denis Tangney Jr./iStock

Location:

Waterbury, Connecticut

For over two decades, Maria Bruscino Sanchez has sold her cookies at Sweet Maria’s. Her chocolate chip, white chocolate chip, and chocolate chocolate chip cookies are delicious, but her magic cookie bars—made with chocolate chips, coconut, walnuts, and graham cracker crust—are truly out of this world.

8. DELAWARE // SWEET SOMETHINGS DESSERTS

Denis Tangney Jr./iStock

Location:

Wilmington, Delaware

Although Sweet Somethings Desserts focuses on designing custom wedding cakes, they also sell scrumptious chocolate chocolate chip cookies. And because they’re dark chocolate cookies made with white chocolate chips, they're also visually striking knockouts.

9. FLORIDA // MATTHEESSEN’S

Mattheessen's

Location:

Key West, Florida

With two locations on Key West’s Duval Street, Mattheessen's is an incredibly popular spot for key lime pie, fudge, and ice cream. Their dense chocolate chip cookies, weighing in at half a pound, have a taste as big as their size. And, they can be customized by adding optional pecans and macadamia nuts.

10. GEORGIA // MUSS & TURNER’S

Michael Mussman

Location:

Smyrna, Georgia

While eating brunch at Muss & Turner’s, you’ll definitely want to save room for their excellent chocolate chip cookie and the "evil cookie" (a quarter-pound double chocolate chip cookie, with optional pecans). Muss & Turner’s also works with The Giving Kitchen, a non-profit charity to help Atlanta’s restaurant owners with emergency assistance, so you can feel good about ordering some extra for the road.

11. HAWAII // MT VIEW BAKERY

YinYang/iStock

Location:

Mountain View, Hawaii

Mt View Bakery inspires strong feelings, both positive and negative. Those who didn’t grow up eating the bakery’s legendary chocolate chip stone cookies don’t understand them—the cookies are harder and less sweet than your usual cookies—but most of the newbies are eventually converted into stone cookie lovers. To eat a chocolate chip stone cookie, dip it in coffee, hot chocolate, or milk, which will soften the cookie and create a deliciously crumbly texture.

12. IDAHO // SWEET VALLEY COOKIE CO.

vkbhat/iStock

Location:

Eagle, Idaho

Sweet Valley Cookie Co.’s jumbo chocolate chip cookies are made with tasty semisweet chocolate chips, and you can kick them up a notch by ordering a "brookie." Half brownie and half chocolate chip cookie, the brookie is made by baking a brownie into the bottom of their regular chocolate chip cookie. You can get Sweet Valley Cookie Co.’s cookies at their Eagle store, at the downtown Boise farmers' market, and on their website.

13. ILLINOIS // COOKIE BAR

Mampfred/iStock

Location:

Chicago, Illinois

Although Cookie Bar is an entirely gluten-free bakery, their classic chocolate chip cookies have the crispy edges, chewy insides, and overall deliciousness of a cookie made with wheat. The Belgian chocolate, grade AA butter, and Mexican vanilla extract (made in-house) really put the cookie over the top. For a giant version of their chocolate chip cookie, order Cookie Bar’s giant cookie pizza with chocolate chip crust.

14. INDIANA // THE CAKE BAKE SHOP

Becky Batchelor

Location:

Indianapolis, Indiana

The Cake Bake Shop’s owner and founder, Gwendolyn Rogers, serves delicious chocolate chip cookies that combine Callebaut Belgian semisweet and Valrhona French bittersweet chocolates, loads of butter, and are sprinkled with fleur de sel from the south of France. Très luxurious!

15. IOWA // NAN’S NUMMIES

Ron_Thomas/iStock

Location:

West Des Moines, Iowa

Proud of its traditional, Midwestern roots, Nan’s Nummies makes cupcakes, cookies, and bars. Nan’s chocolate chip cookies are made with crispy rice and oats, providing a crunchier-than-normal texture, and their almond chocolate chip is a butter cookie made with mini semisweet chocolate chips.

16. KANSAS // J. RAE’S BAKERY

ricardoreitmeyer/iStock

Location:

Wichita, Kansas

J. Rae’s Bakery happily bakes cheesecakes, cupcakes, and custom-made cookies, but they definitely shine with their chocolate chip cookie, a chewy concoction of medium thickness, and will bake special holiday batches, like heart-shaped chocolate chip cookies for Valentine’s Day.

17. KENTUCKY // PLEASE & THANK YOU

Josh Merideth

Location:

Louisville, Kentucky

The chocolate chip cookie at Please & Thank You is a truly stellar chewy cookie, not too thin and not too dense. Because it’s so loved, you can buy a bake-it-yourself version, which consists of mix or dough that you can make in your own oven.

18. LOUISIANA // EMERIL’S DELMONICO

Emeril’s Delmonico

Location:

New Orleans, Louisiana

Since chef Emeril Lagasse renovated the historic Delmonico restaurant in 1998, Emeril’s Delmonico has served Creole food and the best cookies in Louisiana. On the dessert menu, the chocolate chip cookies, which are served with ice cold vanilla milk, contain dark, milk, white, and semisweet chocolate chips, brown sugar, local walnuts, and salt. Bam!

19. MAINE // STANDARD BAKING CO.

Standard Baking Co.

Location:

Portland, Maine

Standard Baking Co. has made artisanal breads, scones, and pastries since 1995. Their sea salted chocolate pecan cookie is made with 70 percent Valrhona chocolate chunks and crunchy pecans, and is dusted with Maldon salt flakes. Get 'em while they're hot!

20. MARYLAND // OTTERBEIN’S COOKIES

Otterbein's Cookies

Location:

Baltimore, Maryland

The most popular cookie at Otterbein’s Cookies is their crispy chocolate chip. Available in specialty grocers and major grocery stores throughout Maryland, the cookie contains Guittard semisweet chocolate chips, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla.

21. MASSACHUSETTS // WHEN PIGS FLY

BDphoto/iStock

Location:

Somerville, Massachusetts

If you pick up a loaf of bread at When Pigs Fly, don’t forget to also grab their salted caramel triple chocolate chip cookie. Truly decadent, this signature cookie features dark, milk, and white chocolate chips, caramel, and salt. Thankfully, with numerous locations across Massachusetts (Kittery, Freeport, Brookline, and Jamaica Plain), you’ll never be too far from this pleasing treat.

22. MICHIGAN // AVALON INTERNATIONAL BREADS

Bekah Galang

Location:

Detroit, Michigan

The baked goods at Avalon International Breads are made with 100 percent organic flour, and you can taste the care and thought that goes into each cookie. Avalon’s chocolate chunk cookies are substantial in size and contain chunks of Callebaut chocolate. You can customize your cookie by adding pecans, or opt for a sea salt chocolate chunk cookie for a smaller, chewier version (with coarse sea salt on top).

23. MINNESOTA // RUSTICA BAKERY

jpellgen via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location:

Minneapolis, Minnesota

The bittersweet chocolate chip cookie at Rustica Bakery is a dark, rich cookie that has the mouthfeel of a fudgy, unbaked brownie. Made with bread flour, brown sugar, butter, cocoa powder, and ScharffenBerger 70 percent cacao bittersweet chocolate, this cookie is perfect for dark chocolate lovers.

24. MISSISSIPPI // CAMPBELL'S BAKERY

Campbell's Bakery

Location:

Jackson, Mississippi

Specializing scrumptious cakes, cheesecakes, petit fours, and more since 1962, Campbell's Bakery offers a classic all-butter cookie with semisweet chocolate chips that is so rich it almost melts in your mouth.

25. MISSOURI // COMET COFFEE & MICROBAKERY

f11photo/iStock

Location:

St. Louis, Missouri

At Comet Coffee & Microbakery the couverture chocolate chip cookies are made with high quality couverture dark chocolate so they’re a totally gooey, melted masterpiece. And because the cookies contain more brown sugar than white sugar, they’re chewier and darker than typical cookies. Bakers sprinkle flaked fleur de sel on the cookie dough before the cookies bake, rounding out the seriously intense flavors.

26. MONTANA // BERNICE’S BAKERY

Redfishingboat (Mick O) via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location:

Missoula, Montana

The chocolate chip cookies at Bernice’s Bakery are classic, traditional, and made from scratch. Since 1978, the bakery has focused on making quality goods in a warm setting, and biting into their chocolate chip cookie will remind you of your grandmother’s timeless cookies.

27. NEBRASKA // CARSON'S COOKIE FIX

Carson's Cookie Fix

Location:

Omaha, Nebraska

Carson's Cookie Fix (formerly Kristen's Cookies) completely revamped their business recently, but kept their beloved old-fashioned cookie recipes—all 17 varieties—that date from the early 1900s. Carson's caramel chocolate chip cookie, made with semisweet chocolate chips and bits of caramel, is mouthwateringly chewy in the middle and crisp around the edges.

28. NEVADA // SUGAR BEE’S BAKERY

Miss Shari via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location:

Las Vegas, Nevada

Seven miles off of the Las Vegas strip, Sugar Bee's Bakery sells desserts, scones, and croissants, but eating Sugar Bee’s chewy double chocolate chunk cookie feels like hitting the jackpot. Big chunks of chocolate melt into the cookie, giving it a marbled appearance. To ensure the highest quality and freshness, Sugar Bee’s is only open Friday and Saturday for walk-in customers.

29. NEW HAMPSHIRE // GONE BAKING

Gone Baking

Location:

Bedford, New Hampshire

Former elementary school teacher Jenny Cheifetz now runs a dessert truck company, Gone Baking, delivering chocolate chip cookies to residents of Bedford, Amherst, Nashua, Manchester, and Merrimack. The tagline on Gone Baking’s van is, aptly, “Taking sweets to the streets.” The Get Loaded cookie is their chocolate chip cookie made with dark, milk, and white chocolate chips, sure to please all types of chocolate lovers.

30. NEW JERSEY // THE BENT SPOON

Gab Carbone

Location:

Princeton, New Jersey

Located in Princeton’s Palmer Square, The Bent Spoon sells a thick chocolate chunk cookie that’s smooth, buttery, and layered with chocolate. For a slightly lighter bite, their thin and crispy chocolate chunk variety is the way to go. If you’re in the mood for even more decadence, add artisanal ice cream—flavors range from sweet potato to crème fraîche—and turn your cookie into a choco-chunk ice cream sandwich.

31. NEW MEXICO // RUDE BOY COOKIES

Rude Boy Cookies

Location:

Albuquerque, New Mexico

One day every week, Rude Boy Cookies gives a portion of their sales to a local charity, so buying their cookies is altruistic and delicious. Also available as gluten-free and vegan options, Rude Boy’s chocolate chip cookies taste delicious on their own, or you can pair them with a glass of milk from the milk bar.

32. NEW YORK // TATE’S BAKE SHOP

Tate's Bake Shop

Location:

Southampton, New York

If you like thin, crisp, buttery chocolate chip cookies, Tate’s Bake Shop has exactly what you’re looking for. Consumer Reports and Rachael Ray deemed Tate’s chocolate chip cookie the best in America. If you’re not near Southampton, all isn’t lost. Tate’s packages and distributes their cookies to grocery stores across the country, including Whole Foods.

33. NORTH CAROLINA // LOAF

SeavPavonePhoto/iStock

Location:

Durham, North Carolina

Loaf got its start as a vendor at the Durham Farmers’ Market, and people loved their products so much that Loaf has been a brick and mortar bakery since 2011. The chocolate chip cookies are thin, crispy, and come in a bag so you can enjoy them over and over… and over, until you run out.

34. NORTH DAKOTA // NICHOLE’S FINE PASTRY

Michael R via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location:

Fargo, North Dakota

Chef and owner Nichole Hensen’s Nichole’s Fine Pastry boasts the best chocolate chip cookies in North Dakota. Big chunks of melted chocolate give the cookies a marbled appearance. You can purchase them for $4 for a bag of 13 cookies, or you can order cookie trays for a larger gathering.

35. OHIO // SASSAFRAS BAKERY

Can Pac Swire via Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Location:

Worthington, Ohio

To get your chocolate chip cookie fix in Ohio, Sassafras Bakery has two perfect options. Their chocolate chip chunk cookie is made with toasted walnuts and pecans, and the salted chocolate chip cookie is a tantalizing mix of sweet and salty. Even better, every weekday afternoon is Milk and Cookie Happy Hour, where you can enjoy a free glass of milk or cup of coffee when you buy a cookie.

36. OKLAHOMA // TRENCHERS DELICATESSEN

suesmith2/iStock

Location:

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Trenchers serves breakfast, sandwiches, and salads, but you’ll want to save a lot of room for dessert. Employees make the cookies fresh every morning (and throughout the day if they sell out), and the dense chocolate chip cookies, made with dark chocolate and tons of butter, are their most popular cookie.

37. OREGON // PEARL BAKERY

sfgamchick via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location:

Portland, Oregon

Opened in 1997, Pearl Bakery serves handcrafted breads, sandwiches, and most importantly, cookies. Customers line up each morning to buy Pearl Bakery’s thick chocolate chunk cookies, which include ingredients like toasted pecans, orange zest, local butter, eggs, and Mexican vanilla extract.

38. PENNSYLVANIA // THE FROSTED FOX CAKE SHOP

Frosted Fox Cake Shop

Location:

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Run by a husband-and-wife team, the Frosted Fox Cake Shop specializes in designing cakes, but their cookies (available Tuesday through Saturday for walk-in customers) are seriously delicious. Based on family recipes, Frosted Fox’s thin, soft, chewy oatmeal chocolate chip, regular chocolate chip, or double chocolate chip cookies will make this a regular guilty pleasure.

39. RHODE ISLAND // MEETING STREET CAFE

Denis Tangney Jr./iStock

Location:

Providence, Rhode Island

To prove just how serious Meeting Street Cafe is about their cookies, they devote a separate page on their website to their Cookie Store. Meeting Street’s chocolate chunk cookie weighs half a pound, measures 6 to 7 inches in diameter, and has big chunks of dark chocolate.

40. SOUTH CAROLINA // SAFFRON CAFÉ & BAKERY

Yamin Kegley

Location:

Charleston, South Carolina

At Saffron Café & Bakery, the owners’ Persian roots give a uniquely international twist to standard baked goods. Saffron’s “infamously giant” 4-ounce chocolate chip cookie and chocolate chunk cookie are homemade "with lots of buttery love," so you won't be surprised that they're insanely tasty.

41. SOUTH DAKOTA // COFFEA ROASTERIE

Joseph Bartmann via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location:

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

At the artisanal chainlet called the Coffea Roasterie, the baked treats are as elegant and refined as the beverages. Their sophisticated chocolate chip cookie is a dense disk of chocolate chunks and mellow sweetness made from scratch each morning.

42. TENNESSEE // MUDDY’S BAKE SHOP

Janine Smith

Location:

Memphis, Tennessee

Muddy’s Bake Shop makes everything from scratch each morning, so you’ll want to cross your fingers that they don’t sell out of their deluxe chocolate chip cookies before you arrive. The oversized cookies blend brown sugar, lots of butter, chunks of melted chocolate, and sea salt flakes for a truly decadent treat.

43. TEXAS // FRENCH GOURMET BAKERY

Paul Cooper via Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Location:

Houston, Texas

Since 1973, French Gourmet Bakery has been family owned and operated. The bakery’s chocolate chip cookies are soft and doughy, making them more like cookie dough than full-on cookies.

44. UTAH // RUBYSNAP

Tami Mowen Steggell

Location:

Salt Lake City, Utah

RubySnap sells specialty cookies with flavors inspired by 1940s and 1950s pin-up girls. The Tommy combined an old-fashioned chocolate chip cookie with bacon for a smoky-sweet treat. 

45. VERMONT // SWEET CRUNCH BAKESHOP

Debbie Burritt

Location:

 Burlington, Vermont

At Sweet Crunch Bakeshop, the classic gooey chocolate chip cookie overflows with delectable semisweet chips. Choose the pecan or walnut variety for even more richness in every bite.

46. VIRGINIA // SUGAR PLUM BAKERY

Denis Tangney Jr./iStock

Location:

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Sugar Plum Bakery employs people with physical and mental disabilities, offering them long-term, stable jobs that allow them to support themselves and integrate into the community. The bakery offers various cookies by the pound (as well as cookie cakes), but the Chesapeake chocolate chip cookie—made with coconut and walnuts—is the most delicious.

47. WASHINGTON // HOT CAKES

Krista Nelson

Location:

Seattle, Washington

Founded in 2008, Hot Cakes uses ingredients from local, organic farms, and you can taste the quality. The chocolate chip cookie at Hot Cakes is legendary for its large size, buttery taste, and rich toffee and caramel notes. For an extra special dessert, order a warm chocolate chip cookie with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on top.

48. WEST VIRGINIA // SUGAR PIE BAKERY

dszc/iStock

Location:

Charleston, West Virginia

Since 2012, Sugar Pie Bakery has delighted customers with cakes, brownies, cupcakes, and pies, and their chocolate chip cookie is no exception. Julia’s Famous Chocolate Chip cookie is so good that it appears elsewhere on Sugar Pie’s menu—their brown sugar cupcakes are stuffed with the chocolate chip cookie dough, and their Insanity Brownies are drizzled in peanut butter, fudge frosting, and chocolate chip cookie crumbles.

49. WISCONSIN // TANK GOODNESS COOKIES

Tank Goodness Cookies

Location:

Madison, Wisconsin

From its kitchen in downtown Madison, Tank Goodness Cookies bakes their premium Cerealized chocolate chip cookies with three types of Ghirardelli chocolate and Froot Loops mixed in by hand—a whole concept suggested by a loyal customer. But the best part is that Tank Goodness delivers—the company will travel throughout the greater Madison area with your order in a box with a heat chamber so the cookies are still warm and gooey when you get them.

50. WYOMING // PERSEPHONE BAKERY

Persephone Bakery

Location:

Jackson, Wyoming

Persephone Bakery churns out rustic, artisanal breads and high quality pastries, and their chocolate chip walnut cookie is classic, comforting, and made with lots of semisweet chocolate and toasted walnuts.

Graham Crackers Were Invented to Combat the Evils of Coffee, Alcohol, and Masturbation

tatniz/iStock via Getty Images
tatniz/iStock via Getty Images

Long before they were used to make s’mores or the tasty crust of a Key lime pie, graham crackers served a more puritanical purpose in 19th-century America. The cookies were invented by Sylvester Graham, an American Presbyterian minister whose views on food, sex, alcohol, and nutrition would seem a bit extreme to today's cracker-snackers. Much like the mayor in the movie Chocolat, Graham and his thousands of followers—dubbed Grahamites—believed it was sinful to eat decadent foods. To combat this moral decay, Graham started a diet regimen of his own.

Graham ran health retreats in the 1830s that promoted a bland diet that banned sugar and meat. According to Refinery29, Graham's views ultimately inspired veganism in America as well as the “first anti-sugar crusade.” He condemned alcohol, tobacco, spices, seasoning, butter, and "tortured" refined flour. Caffeine was also a no-no. In fact, Graham believed that coffee and tea were just as bad as tobacco, opium, or alcohol because they created a “demand for stimulation.” However, the worst vice, in Graham's opinion, was overeating. “A drunkard sometimes reaches old age; a glutton never,” he once wrote.

Graham’s austere philosophy was informed by the underlying belief that eating habits affect people’s behaviors, and vice versa. He thought certain foods were "overstimulating" and led to impure thoughts and passions, including masturbation—or “self-pollution,” as he called it—which he believed to be an epidemic that caused both blindness and insanity.

Illustration of Sylvester Graham
Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Graham's views directly influenced Victorian-era corn flake inventor John Harvey Kellogg, who was born a year after Graham died. Like his predecessor, Kellogg also believed that meat and some flavorful foods led to sexual impulses, so he advocated for the consumption of plain foods, like cereals and nuts, instead. (Unsurprisingly, the original recipes for both corn flakes and graham crackers were free of sinful sugar.)

In one lecture, Graham told young men they could stop their minds from wandering to forbidden places if they avoided “undue excitement of the brain and stomach and intestines.” This meant swearing off improper foods and substances like tobacco, caffeine, pepper, ginger, mustard, horseradish, and peppermint. Even milk was banned because it was “too exciting and too oppressive.”

So what could Graham's followers eat? The core component of Graham’s diet was bread made of coarsely ground wheat or rye, unlike the refined white flour loaves that were sold in bakeries at that time. From this same flour emerged Graham's crackers and muffins, both of which were common breakfast foods. John Harvey Kellogg was known to have eaten the crackers and apples for breakfast, and one of his first attempts at making cereal involved soaking twice-baked cracker bits in milk overnight.

Slices of rye bread, a jug of milk, apples and ears of corn on sackcloth, wooden table
SomeMeans/iStock via Getty Images

However, Kellogg was one of the few remaining fans of Graham’s diet, which began to fall out of favor in the 1840s. At Ohio’s Oberlin College, a Grahamite was hired in 1840 to strictly enforce the school’s meal plans. One professor was fired for bringing a pepper shaker to the dining hall, and the hunger-stricken students organized a protest the following year, arguing that the Graham diet was “inadequate to the demands of the human system as at present developed.” Ultimately, the Grahamite and his tyrannical nutrition plan were kicked out.

Much like Kellogg’s corn flakes, someone else stepped in and corrupted Graham’s crackers, molding them into the edible form we now know—and, yes, love—today. In Graham’s case, it was the National Biscuit Company, which eventually became Nabisco; the company started manufacturing graham crackers in the 1880s. But Graham would likely be rolling in his grave if he knew they contained sugar and white flour—and that they're often topped with marshmallows and chocolate for a truly decadent treat.

7 Tasty Facts About Tater Tots

bhofack2, iStock via Getty Images
bhofack2, iStock via Getty Images

Whether you associate them with your school cafeteria, your childhood home, or your local dive bar, tater tots are ubiquitous. Creamy on the inside and crispy on the outside, the bite-sized pellets rival French fries for the title of most delicious potato product. But they’re more than just a tasty side dish—they’re also an upcycling success story, a casserole ingredient, and one of the few foods that’s more popular frozen than fresh. Here are some more facts about tater tots you should know.

1. The first Tater Tots were made from French fry scraps.

Brothers F. Nephi Grigg and Golden Grigg founded the Oregon Frozen Foods Company, later known as Ore-Ida, in Ontario, Oregon, in 1952. One of their first items was frozen French fries, and after seeing all the potato scraps they had leftover, they came up with an idea. By chopping up the potato parts, seasoning them, and molding them into pellets, they were able to create a new product. With help from a thesaurus, they landed on the name tater tot and debuted their creation in 1954.

2. Tater Tots are the main ingredient in Hotdish casserole.

Hotdish casserole with tater tots.
ALLEKO, iStock via Getty Images

Tater tots are typically served as an appetizer or a side dish, but in certain states, they’re part of the main course. Hotdish follows the long Midwestern tradition of tossing whatever’s in the kitchen into a casserole. It’s made by mixing together ground beef and frozen vegetables and topping it with a layer of tater tots before baking the whole dish in the oven. It’s a hearty match for Midwestern winters, plus, it’s a way to sneak more tots into your diet.

3. The name Tater Tot is trademarked.

If the golden nugget of potato-y goodness you’re eating is not Ore-Ida brand, it’s not really a tater tot. The Grigg brothers trademarked the catchy name shortly after developing the product, and Ore-Ida still holds its trademark on tater tots today. This doesn’t stop people using it as a catch-all term for the generic version of the food. Ore-Ida tried to combat this in 2014 by running an ad campaign warning customers not to “be fooled by Imi-taters.”

4. Tater Tots have different names around the world.

The all-American tater tot has spread around the globe, but it’s usually sold under a different name abroad. Tot-lovers in New Zealand and Australia may refer to them as potato gems, potato royals, potato pom-poms, or hash bites. The food is so popular in New Zealand that Pizza Hut launched a pie with a hash bite crust there in 2016. In Canada, they’re called tasti taters or spud puppies, and they’ve been labeled oven crunchies in the UK.

5. Homemade tater tot recipes may not be worth it.

Tater tots on a plate served with ketchup.
MSPhotographic, iStock via Getty Images

Tater tots are the ultimate convenience food—unless you try making them from scratch at home. Recipes online involve peeling and grating pounds of potatoes, frying them once, chilling them overnight, and then shaping them into tots and frying them a second time. Without the streamlined method and equipment of a factory, the process can take 12 hours. Even fine restaurants that feature tater tots on their menus often prefer the taste (and convenience) of the frozen stuff.

6. Idaho praised Napoleon Dynamite for featuring Tater Tots.

Napoleon Dynamite takes place in Idaho, and one of the ways the 2004 film pays tribute to the state is by prominently featuring the tot. The State of Idaho passed a resolution in 2005 commending the makers of the film, specifically thanking them for “promoting Idaho’s most famous export.”

7. The birthplace of the Tater Tot is hosting a Tater Tot festival.

Nearly 70 years after tater tots were invented there, Ontario, Oregon, is honoring its patron potato product by dedicating an entire festival to it in August 2020. The Tater Tot Festival will feature games, food vendors, and a Ferris wheel, plus special events like a tater tot-eating contest and a tater tot-themed play. The fair will end with the crowning of the tater tot festival king and queen.

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