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.
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.