The city of Syracuse in New York is giving their famous salt potatoes a historic marker, but what is the dish and where did it originate from?

The William G. Pomeroy Foundation in Syracuse, New York has launched The Hungry for History program to celebrate community history and cultural heritage with locally & regionally significant food dishes created prior to 1960.

The foundation says the program is designed to help communities nationwide put the spotlight on their renowned local and regional food dishes with historic roadside markers.

One of the first historical dishes to be celebrated is Syracuse's famous salt potatoes.

What are Syracuse Salt Potatoes?

From 1797 to 1917 the Onondaga Salt Reservation was located by Syracuse and made the city the salt capital of America.

According to Syracuse.com, "the salt potato’s origin is often attributed to the workers of these salt mines, many of whom were Irish immigrants with a proclivity toward potatoes, known to throw a few spuds into the boiling brine for a quick lunch."

The popularity of the dish caught on and was served in local taverns and eateries as early as 1883. The dish is typically served in the summer when the young potatoes are first harvested. As the potatoes cook, the salty water forms a crust on the skin, and the higher boiling temperature allows the starch in the potato to cook more completely, giving a creamier texture.

For a food dish to be included on the Hungry for History markers program, it must fit under certain criteria, including: 

  • Must be a prepared, ready-to-eat dish, such as an entrée or dessert
  • Must contain a minimum of 2 ingredients
  • Dish must be created prior to 1960
  • Dish must be historically significant to the greater community or beyond
  • Dish is still available/eaten today or in some form
  • No brand names allowed (e.g. Hershey’s, Kraft, etc.)

Applications for a Hungry for History marker can be made to the foundation online. The deadline for a letter of intent to apply for a marker is Aug 9. The application deadline is Sept 13.

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