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How 2 Oregon brothers’ efforts to mitigate food waste created the beloved tater tot

When brothers Golden and Francis Nephi “Neef” Grigg began renting a frozen foods plant in the tiny Idaho border town of Ontario, Oregon, in 1949, they were hoping to expand their existing frozen corn business to include potatoes. Little did they know they’d taken the first step toward creating Oregon’s prodigal spud: the tater tot.

A few years after the Griggs converted the flash-freezing plant to a potato-processing facility, the building’s owners went under. The Grigg brothers bought the building they’d been renting out of foreclosure, and in 1952 the company known as Ore-Ida was born.

By 1955, Ore-Ida had already been advertising its frozen diced potatoes and shredded potato patties in earnest, so by the time the tater tot was released a year later, the product was well-positioned to be embraced by American households. Released into grocery stores in 1956, tater tots captured the zeitgeist of midcentury America.

They were easy. Picky kids loved them.

Even in the Mormon community whence the Griggs came, tater tots couldn’t have come at a better time.

Armand Mauss.

According to Washington State University professor emeritus of sociology Armand Mauss, the 1950s saw Mormons pulling away from the wholesome, from-scratch farm fare. They were adopting a more American mainstream cuisine, combining processed, ready-to-eat foods, turning Jell-O and canned fruit cocktails into “salads” or cream-of-whatever soup and frozen potatoes into casseroles.

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FOX 12

As urban, suburban incarceration rates drop, more people going to jail in rural areas

As incarceration rates drop in Washington’s urban and suburban areas, police in rural areas are booking more people into jail often for minor offenses.

Lauren Patterson has the story as a professor of sociology at Washington state University Jennifer Schwartz started to notice a pattern in her research: while urban area incarcerations in Washington are going down, the number of people imprisoned in rural areas is going up.

Jennifer Schwartz.

“It wasn’t the serious transgressions or the serious criminals that are a danger to the community that kept coming back in. It was the sort of minor transgressions that kept the revolving door spinning,” Schwartz said.

Those minor offenses include things like driving with a suspended license or not showing up in court.

Schwartz and her colleague Jennifer Sherman received a three-year grant to continue researching rural incarceration. They hope to find potential solutions for policymakers.

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Stop feeling bad about taking time off — your male counterparts don’t!

A common misperception in the U.S. is that time off needs to be earned, deserved, and sacrificed for.

Have you ever felt guilty about taking your (hard-earned) sick or vacation days? If so, you aren’t alone. According to a recent Zippia survey of 214 job seekers, 61.3 percent of Americans feel guilty about taking time off work and women are 20 percent more likely to feel guilty about taking time off work than men.

For women in particular, it’s often difficult to shake the anxiety that comes with enjoying time with your family on vacation or taking a long weekend to “do you.” Not only do workplace dynamics contribute to this pattern, but for women shouldering the majority of caretaking responsibilities, a working mother’s vacation time is often a shared asset – used for family needs like kids’ doctor appointments, attendance at school events and emergencies.

Julie Kmec.

Sociologists Elizabeth Gorman of the University of Virginia and Julie Kmec of Washington State University recently conducted a study to explore how women feel they need to work harder than their male counterparts.

In short, women feel they must prove themselves for leaders to see them as competent. Gorman and Kmec eventually concluded that women feel the need to work hard because they simply don’t get as much credit as men do.

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Climate protesters are chucking food at priceless paintings. Social movements expert gives perspective.

A social movements expert says these tactics only convince people who already think climate change is serious.

Young activists are taking an eye-catching tactic to demand action on climate change this year — hurling food at famous pieces of art.

The activists say they’re trying to stop an oil pipeline, limit fossil fuel use, and wake up the masses to the gravity of the climate crisis.

The wave of food-throwing climate protests prompted international outcry, with government officials and art experts shunning the practice and museums the world over increasing security, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Dylan Bugden.

“What I’ve found is that these tactics are likely to be viewed as positive by people who already believe that climate change is a serious social problem,” Dylan Bugden, a sociologist at Washington State University who studies global climate change protests, told Insider.

In Bugden’s research, he’s found disruptive and confrontational tactics aren’t effective on people who are not already concerned about climate change. “While that speaks to the limitations of this form of protest, it is also evidence that these tactics are unlikely to backfire,” Bugden said, adding, “These more extreme tactics tend to preach to the choir more than anything.”

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Business Insider

Good sleep can increase women’s work ambitions

If women want to lean in to work, they may first want to lie down for a good night’s rest. A Washington State University-led study indicated that sleep quality impacted women’s mood and changed how they felt about advancing in their careers. Meanwhile, men’s aspirations were not impacted by sleep quality.

The researchers discovered this finding in a two-week-long survey study of 135 workers in the U.S. Each day the participants first noted how well they had slept and the quality of their current mood, and then later in the day how they felt about striving for more status and responsibility at work.

Julie Kmec.

For the study published in the journal Sex Roles, researchers, including WSU sociologist Julie Kmec, surveyed full-time employees twice a day for two consecutive work weeks for a total of more than 2,200 observations. The participants answered questions about their previous night’s sleep and current mood around noon every day and in the evenings answered questions about their intentions to pursue more responsibility, status, and influence at work.

Both men and women reported good and bad sleep quality over the course of the study, notably with no gender difference in reported sleep quality. However, women more often reported lowered intentions to pursue more status at work on days following a night of poor sleep.

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