Food Innovators’ Legacies

The world recently lost two pioneers who made important contributions to civilization’s eating habits: Bob Moore, founder of Bob’s Red Mill whole grain products and William Post, co-inventor of Pop-Tarts breakfast pastry. Both were in their mid-nineties, proof that proper diet leads to longevity.

Bob Moore and his wife, Charlee, started their business in 1978. Their innovation was a back-to-the-future story. They purchased stone grinding wheels and moved them into an old flour mill that they painted red. The business now makes more than two-hundred products and has international distribution. Bob’s trademarked visage, with his white beard and cap, looks out from every package. The company’s retail store in Milwaukie Oregon also sells baked goods and offers informal dining.

The Moores had many offers to buy the business. Instead, to celebrate Bob’s 81st birthday, in 2010, they converted the company’s shares into an employee stock ownership program, benefiting its 700 employees.

William Post managed a Kellogg’s plant where in 1964 he helped develop Pop-Tarts. The trend-setting breakfast snack consists of a sweet filling layered between two rectangles of dry pastry — presumably not whole-grain — to be heated in a toaster. Mr. Post’s three children tested the product and its original four flavors. Several years after Kelloggs introduced Pop-Tarts, Post developed a new innovation, frosting, adding icing to the pastry’s outside.

Billions of Pop-Tarts are sold every year in more than thirty flavors.

The frosting, however, made a warning necessary, cautioning people to use the lowest toaster setting, to avoid burning the house down. Dave Barry researched the likelihood of strawberry Pop-Tarts being set aflame in the toaster. Read his report from 1993 here.

“The thing I like best about being a journalist, aside from being able to clip my toenails while working, is that sometimes, through hard work and perseverance and opening my mail, I come across a story that can really help you, the consumer, gain a better understanding of how you can be killed by breakfast snack food.”

(Dave Barry is also known for his annual month-by-month “Year in Review.” Here is his 2023 report.)

MAGA Travel News

Dennis Prager, pundit for the MAGA crowd, kicked off 2024’s Black History Month by declaring he would not fly on United Airlines because they have too many Black (and women) pilots.

He just learned that United issued a statement in 2021: “Our flight deck should reflect the diverse group of people on board our planes every day. That’s why we plan for 50% of the 5,000 pilots we train in the next decade to be women or people of color.”

Mr. Prager asserts that United has lowered standards to recruit pilots of color. There are no facts to support this idiotic claim – and no matter that all pilots are trained to the same quantifiable FAA standards.

Prager sprinkled his fact-free rant with favorite MAGA buzzwords: “affirmative action”, “woke”, “DEI” (diversity equity inclusion).

In other travel news, Senator Ted Cruz, who was famously photographed in the Cancun, Mexico airport, on vacation while his constituents in Texas suffered through freezing weather and power outages, has proposed legislation to avoid such embarrassments in the future. Sen Cruz’s amendment to a transportation bill would mandate T.S.A. to provide VIP lawmakers a dedicated security escort at airports, along with expedited screening outside of public view, thus avoiding scorn from citizens and ridicule from late-night comedians.

What To Eat on Ground Hog Day

The world’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, has predicted an early spring in 2024. Phil ended his hibernation on February 2, as he does every year. When he emerged from his burrow, he did not see his shadow, thus signifying the end of winter.

Groundhog Day shares the date with another important observance: National Tater Tot Day.

National Tater Tot Day was not created by an act of Congress, nor by Presidential proclamation. A food writer from Birmingham, Alabama, John-Bryan Hopkins, originated the holiday in 2009.

The Tater Tot is an Oregon invention. Ore-Ida foods, was looking for a profitable way to dispose of potato scraps from their production of frozen French fries than livestock feed. By chopping the scraps, mixing in a little flour and seasoning, then pushing the mush through an extruder and cutting into bite-sized pieces. Fried, then frozen, Tater Tots landed in grocery stores in 1956.

H. J. Heinz – now Kraft-Heinz – purchased Ore-Ida in 1965. Americans consume 70 million pounds of the frozen delicacy each year.