Tornado Potatoes Need To Become Part Of The US Fast Food Experience

For many countries around the globe, tornado potatoes are a street food staple that is uniquely shaped and deliciously snackable. From India to Australia, you'll find these spiral-cut, fried potatoes on a stick seasoned in all kinds of ways unique to the country you're visiting. 

While there are some small businesses across the nation where you can try it for yourself, such as in Las Vegas, Ohio, and Southern California, it has yet to become a beloved treat in the States. For such a perfectly portable and fun-looking snack, it's hard to imagine why we don't see it served as a mainstream option at county fairs, fast food restaurants, and food trucks. Plus, considering the sheer number of potato lovers and fried food fans in the U.S., it would surely be a big hit. Talk about an upgrade to classic curly fries

Beyond that, the process is satisfying to watch, as shown in a video featuring a street vendor preparing the snack. As any fairgoer knows, there's something magical about street food that comes with spectacle. A special machine cuts potatoes quickly and uniformly each time to minimize wait time for hungry customers. All the vendor needs to do is pop the tater onto a bamboo skewer, thread it down, and toss it into a batter made of flour, water, and spices before frying it. Some common seasonings for tornado potatoes — which get sprinkled on after frying — include chili, onion, barbecue, cheese, and honey.

The origin of tornado potatoes in South Korea

Although popular worldwide, this snack was first invented in South Korea. All it takes is one great idea to kickstart a business, and that's exactly how "whirlwind potatoes" made their big break in Seoul, South Korea. Jeong Eun-Suk and her fellow CEO brainstormed ways to use the smaller, discarded potatoes that grew in their hometown. That's when they decided to repurpose a machine intended for peeling persimmons to make spiral-cut potatoes, which took two years to refine.

"I thought, 'Let's cut potatoes like persimmon skins that are connected in round circles. I was sure it would be a fun shape," CEO Chung told DongA. Four years later, locals enjoyed tornado potatoes so much that their business, Whiori, made millions of dollars in profits after the company became official in 2013. In America, tornado potatoes made a big, albeit brief, splash around 2009 as a crunchy boardwalk snack in New Jersey, reportedly because a street food photo from South Korea had inspired U.S. vendors enough to create their own. 

Tornado potatoes probably wouldn't become more popular than the best street foods in the U.S., like corn dogs and sugar-coated funnel cakes, but we hope it catches on eventually.