The baby carrot—a staple of appetizer spreads everywhere—provides an elegant solution to a widespread problem: While nutritious, munching on a full-sized carrot is inherently ridiculous, and can make one look and feel like Bugs Bunny. The diminutive baby carrot, on the other hand, delivers a good dose of Vitamin A in finger food form and is just 5 calories per stick.
But where do baby carrots come from? Have they been genetically-engineered for stunted growth just so we don’t look like a cartoon character when eating them?
Not quite. According to Food Network, baby carrots arrived in the early 1980s as the brainchild of farmer Mike Yurosek, who pitied carrots with deformities that couldn’t be sold at grocery stores. Though perfectly edible, they didn’t pass aesthetic muster.
Rather than discard them, Yurosek took a bean cutter and chopped them up into 2-inch portion sizes. The resulting baby carrot was a tremendous hit, spiking carrot sales throughout the 1980s. Not only were the carrots easier to consume and perfect for dipping, they also reduced food waste—a perfect trifecta.
Broken or oddly-shaped carrots continue to be repurposed in this way, though some farms do encourage growth straight down into the ground so that they have a uniform width. Because they’re packaged after being skinned, they’re washed in chlorine to eliminate any bacteria then rinsed. Finally, they're packaged in perforated bags to allow for air circulation and shipped—where they arrive, ready to be snacked on.
[h/t Food Network]