Random Food Fact #12 – First, Television. Then, Baby Carrots.

Television entered the American living room and culture in the 1950’s. TV dinners were the next inevitable expression of human ingenuity and, perhaps, necessity. This in turn transformed the vegetable farming industry as niche, or boutique farmers shifted their practices to tap into the demands of this new food packaging. American farmers started breeding and growing real miniature carrots at this time. Curiously, attempts to market them on their own did not succeed initially.

Today, about half of the million tons of carrots sold every year are manufactured baby carrots. Food industry analysts observe that the baby carrot is among the most remarkable innovations to ever happen to root vegetables. About half of all carrots sold in the US and Canada are manufactured baby carrots.

The modern baby carrot was developed both by necessity and by accident in the 1960’s. California vegetable farmer Mike Yuosek is generally recognized as the inventor. He was troubled by the significant waste resulting in the tons of misshapen or damaged carrots that were not deemed acceptable for packaging and marketing. Experimenting with a bean slicer and a potato peeler, he sought to reshape unmarketable carrots to make them worthy of grocery store displays and grocery shoppers. His wife designed a cute bunny for their brand and by the mid-1960’s they launched Bunny Luv Carrots.

The success of their “recycled” carrots would really pay off about 20 years later. In 1986, Yurosek sent samples of his now consistently, perfectly shaped small carrots to one of the largest West Coast supermarket chains. The response was short and as sweet as carrot juice: “We only want those from now on!”

A neighboring farmer has claimed authorship of the invention of the baby carrot, stating that Yurosek spied on his machinery and stole the idea. This claim was never verified with absolute certainty. In the early 1990’s, Yurosek, who never patented his invention, sold his farm and baby carrot business to competitor, Grimmway Farms, who would become one of the largest carrot producers in the world.


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