Instant Mashed Potatoes

A towering box of Idaho Spuds sits in a snowy landscape. A child on a sled glides by.

A longer-lasting potato…

Potatoes are a celebration food, and they became popular, in part, because they take so long to go bad. But during WWII, the government was greedy, and they decided to push for an even longer shelf life by dehydrating potatoes into granules. Which were then made into extraordinarily gummy and awful mashed potatoes for the soldiers. Like many wartime innovations, there was in interest in making these reconstituted mashed potatoes into a consumer product. They just had to be a little less terrible.

A major turning point was the realization that “flakes” beat “granules” as far as mashed potato texture went. A government facility in Wyndmore, PA developed a process called “The Philadelphia Cook” This involved precooking potatoes, cooling them, cooking them again, and then drying them. Into flakes. Obviously. These new instant mashed potatoes were less terrible than before and saved the hassle of peeling potatoes forever and boiling a towering cauldron of water. A big win!

I hope you are celebrating this season with special foods. And if Christmas is your kind of holiday, I hope it’s a jolly one. 

Beef Stew

A can of beef stew sits in an outdoor setting at night. A camper and his dog walk nearby.

Lumberjacks need stew

Dinty Moore Beef Stew was invented by a lumberjack named Dinty Moore. For a while, he put his thumbprint on every can, but his thumb got tired and he quit. We can take some consolation in the fact that the label is still plaid.

There is also a “recipe” for a roast beef sandwich on the internet which is just a can of Dinty Moore poured onto a submarine roll. I don’t feel super great about that. (This blurb has some truth and some fiction, but that bad recipe is true.)