John Hinerwadel and Syracuse Salt Potato

Today’s post is brought to you by the words eponymous and synonymous. And not just because they sound good together.

A little history first. The majority of the salt used in the United States before the 19th century came from Syracuse, New York—dubbed “the Salt City.”

Between 1845 and 1852, during the Irish Potato Famine, an estimated one million Irish died from famine. One million more emigrated from Ireland to other parts of the world. Many of them passed through New York looking for work.

If you were a miner arriving in New York where’s the closest place you’d look for work?

Which leads us to an enterprising restauranteur, John Hinerwadel, owner of the eponymous Syracuse clambake company. He noticed the local Irish salt workers boiling their lunch—potatoes with skins on—in large vats of salt water.

In 1914, Mr. Hinerwadel added salt potatoes to his menu. With their rapid rise in popularity, Mr. Hinerwadel sold salt potato kits, which included five pounds of small white potatoes and 12 ounces of salt, so the DIY’ers could make ‘em at home.

The bags of potatoes with the red and yellow sun are still sold in Syracuse today. Sorry folks they’re not available for sale online.

The Hinerwadel family has sold millions of bags of salt potatoes, and unlike McDonalds’ they’re still counting. Making Hinerwadel’s Famous Original Salt Potatoes synonymous with Syracuse.

A link to Hinerwadels website. Because there are no images of Mr. Hinerwadel online.

A link to Hinerwadel’s website. Because there are no images of the esteemed Mr. Hinerwadel available.

Speaking of Syracuse and Hinerwadel’s, let’s turn it over to our own BoFN’s Syracuse man-on-the-street reporter, Mark Bialczak.

Mark: “Having moved to Syracuse in 1983, I soon was introduced to the teeny-tiny potato dusted with salt and doused in melted butter. Genius! I’ve never figured out how they get the potatoes to stop growing at such a tender young age, but who am I to quibble. As far as I was concerned they were a poor man’s lobster tail. I’m known to dip the rest of the picnic in the drawn butter, as well. Burger … perfect for the corn on the cob, you know?

Not only that, I’ve been fortunate enough to attend a number of clambakes at Hinerwadel’s, the joint run by the family. Their food spreads are legendary. Barbecued meats, fixin’s, clams, shrimp, salt potatoes, salt potatoes, salt potatoes, beer, beer, beer. Ahhhhhhhh. Some company or charity is throwing a clambake there every weekend day from May to September.”

Thank you, Mark!

Well folks, you heard it here first.

If I’m ever in central New York, I’ll visit Hinerwadel’s. I’m positive when I finish eating, my hiner will waddle. Mmmmmm.

Tracy — Fannie Cranium’s Guide to Irreverent Wisdom

About Fannie Cranium

Writing since she could first hold a pen, Tracy Perkins formed her alter ego, "Fannie Cranium" at the suggestion of her husband. Tracy understands smiling makes people wonder what she’s been up to.
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29 Responses to John Hinerwadel and Syracuse Salt Potato

  1. ksbeth says:

    sounds wonderful!

  2. Dave says:

    Wow, I’m ALWAYS learning something new on BoFN. I had no idea about Syracuse’s salt history, or about salt potatoes, or about… just about any of the things you posted about today.

  3. Dave says:

    Eponymous and synonymous… I like it! Two words that make you sound smart!

  4. Dave says:

    Oh, btw… if a few months from now, I haven’t referred to Mark B as “our resident Syracuse salt potato” on this blog, you should publicly humiliate me for my oversight!

  5. kerbey says:

    You did it. You ended it with the sentence that was in my head from the first line. That’s a hard name to bear as a youth, but it helps if you’re rich and famous. I like the red and yellow design, very eye-catching. The pic of the salt potatoes looks like sugar donuts. Either way, it’s a road to fat city. A delicious road. So I’m trying to picture the Irish immigrants taking a bag of raw potatoes to work–and then they had time to boil them? They built a fire and boiled water on their lunch break? Maybe one guy could have brought the potatoes, and the others could have divvied up who brings butter, cheese, chives, and bacon.

    • Wow. The fact that we had a bloggish mind mend amazes me.

      I can only imagine they must have stoked the fire on their breaks and started the potatoes before heading into the mine. Either way, they look delish! Please pass the bacon. 🙂

      • Dave says:

        You two are too clever for me… I didn’t realize that line was all about wordplay until I read Kerbey’s comment and thought about it for a second. I honestly just thought you misspelled “hiney” (heinie? I have no idea how to spell it). I can be dense sometimes. Thanks for putting up with me!

    • markbialczak says:

      Nothing but the salt and butter on these babies, Kerbey. No cheese, chives or bacon invited to the salt potato party. And, yes, the final line of this story is a dandy, Fannie, not to mention name-appropriate! Thanks for the invitation to your blog on our Syracuse spud stalwart, my friend.

  6. Arto says:

    That’s got to be one of the simplest inventions that led to great success in the world. Potatoes and salt. What a world we live in.

    And now I’m hungry. Lunch time!

  7. Reblogged this on Fannie Cranium's and commented:

    This month’s contribution to the Blog of Funny Names. John Hinerwadel, entrepreneur and restauranteur.

  8. rosyroland says:

    These 100% need to be a history podcast or something – it’s so great for something like pub quiz knowledge. I’m my first trip to New York (and my first trip out of Europe) is this summer and after all the cliche things I have in mind I will add eating salt potatoes at Hindersomethings to my itinerary!

  9. Liz says:

    so cool!!!! These sound tasty–love how my food knowledge got a boost over here at BoFN. And nice call tag-teaming it with Mark “Syracuse” B. Way to use your sources, Fannie. Like very much. You got me curious: Who knew? Thank to you, I do 😀 Great reporting, Fannie. Curious how this one landed in your noggin’?

    • Liz-Thank you! It was a fun post and partially inspired by the posts you and Amb used to do together.

      Regarding the salt potatoes, I bought a new cookbook and was thumbing through the recipes when I stumbled on the Syracuse Salt Potatoes. My better half and I tried them, loved them, and a post was born. Now I want to go to Syracuse and try the real thing. Haven’t been to NY since the 1990’s. It’s back on the list. 🙂

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