I think about tater tots a little more than I probably should. Maybe this is because, unlike hash browns or steak fries, tots aren’t something you can easily make from scratch at home. If you’re craving the particular texture, taste, and shape of a tot, you have two options: buy them frozen at the grocery store or order them as an appetizer at a local bar and grill.
It was this latter option that brought me to a little place in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin called Hoozels. And there, among the onion rings, Spam fries, and deep-fried cheese curds, I encountered the tots that changed my life: Bacon, Cheddar, and Chive Tater Kegs.
Two things distinguish the Keg from the tot: they’re huge, and they’re stuffed with filling. The brand’s official website (under the wing of Stone Gate Foods) describes them as “3x the size of your average tater,” with the bold claim that Tater Kegs “put the more in morsel.”
Just look at them, practically shimmering with the golden kiss of the deep fryer. And the flavor within packs a hell of a punch—if Napoleon Dynamite had been smuggling Tater Kegs instead of tots, his pocket would have kicked back. Alongside my chicken gyro with spicy relish, this appetizer represented some of the best bar food I’ve had in a while. Thanks, Hoozels!
What’s the name of that digital album that holds all the Pokemon? The Pokedex? Well, the folks at Stone Gate have a regular Taterdex of flavors.
Bacon, Cheddar, and Chive was my gateway, but there’s also a jalapeño flavor that I’d commit a misdemeanor to get my hands on. Then we get to options like Chorizo Burrito, Buffalo Chicken, and Crab Feast.
But perhaps the two I’m keenest to sample are Breakfast Skillet and The Reuben. This first option is described as such: “Fluffy scrambled eggs, gooey cheddar cheese, the best breakfast sausage, with just a hint of chives and pepper, surrounded by crispy hash browns.” Sounds like a good way to start your day.
The Reuben, for its part, is hailed as “a sure crowd pleaser, and a delectable choice. This taterrific take on the classic sandwich features fully cooked corned beef crumbles, savory sauerkraut, bits of Swiss cheese, and a touch of sour cream.”
The company also sells two vegetarian options: Cheese Bomb and Cheddar Chive. Both of those should go perfectly with a hummus wrap and a tall glass of beer.
Now that you’re hungry, here’s the bad news: According to the manufacturer, Tater Kegs are currently “only available through foodservice distributors to restaurants, stadiums and grocery deli hot bars.” So, if you want to get your fix, you’ll have to plan on dining out.
And this gets a little tricky, because there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to track which local venues carry Tater Kegs. You might try calling around to some pubs and grills in your area, asking for Tater Kegs by name, or checking the online menus. They’re worth seeking out.
Maybe someday, we’ll be able to buy them in stores for our air frying pleasure. I could see stocking my freezer with a few bags of the Buffalo Chicken or Breakfast Skillet Kegs for whenever the craving strikes. Until then, I’ll console myself with a regular visit to the local watering hole. And if you stumble across Tater Kegs in the wild, go ahead and try an order. If you’re a fan of spuds, cheese, and various combinations of meats, you can’t lose. They’re definitely peak tot.