Even though I haven’t had one in years, I still think fondly about Outback Steakhouse’s Bloomin’ Onion because it rules. I mean, come on, it’s an entire deep fried battered onion that you can pick pieces off and dip into sauce. It’s like the best part of an onion ring, except it’s the whole damn onion and it’s all the greasy crispy parts.
But its origins are a little bit murky, and MEL delves deep within its past to see just who exactly bloomed that onion for the first time. At first glance, it appears that the credit goes to a man named Tim Gannon. He’s one of the four founders of Outback Steakhouse, and he wanted a signature item to add to the menu that would be synonymous with Outback.
But Gannon wasn’t the one who actually came up with the concept. “The first blooming onion was made by a friend of mine named Jeff Glowski, who was a chef at Russell’s Marina Grill,” Gannon told MEL. “He did the onion for a contest and we collaborated to put it together to add spices and seasoning.” This was back in 1985 in New Orleans.
Later, the two friends brought the fried onion concept to another restaurant, a chain called Copeland’s in New Orleans, and then Glowski carried the idea with him all the way to—you guessed it—Australia, specifically Jo-Jo Ivory’s New Orleans Restaurant in Potts Point, New South Wales. There, it was known as the Onion Mum, described on the menu as a “crisp-fried onion sculptured like a chrysanthemum.” That’s actually pretty poetic.
Of course, Gannon and Glowski aren’t the only people who claimed to have invented the Bloomin’ Onion. Scotty’s Pub and Comedy Cove in New Jersey claims to have been the original developer in the 1970's, but Brian VanHooker, the author of the MEL piece, couldn’t find any actual evidence to back up this theory.
The history of this thing runs deep, so do yourself a favor on this snow day and take a look at this piece, because there’s way more to the Bloomin’ Onion than you may have ever realized.