Baby carrots aren't babies at all. They're grown-up carrots cut into 2-inch sections, pumped through water-filled pipes into whirling cement-mixer-size peelers and whittled down to the niblets Americans know, love and scarf down by the bagful.
We owe the whole thing to Mike Yurosek, the Father of Baby Carrot:
It all began about 16 years ago when Mike Yurosek of Newhall, Calif., got tired of seeing 400 tons of carrots a day drop down the cull shoot at his packing plant in Bakersfield. Culls are carrots that are too twisted, knobby, bent or broken to sell. In some loads, as many as 70% of carrots were tossed. And there are only so many discarded carrots you can feed to a pig or a steer, says Yurosek, now 82 and retired. "After that, their fat turns orange," he says.
Yurosek has always been a "think outside the carrot patch" guy. In the 1960s, Yurosek and Sons was selling carrots in plastic bags with a Bunny-Luv logo, a cartoon that got the farmers in trouble with Warner Bros., which was protective of its Bugs Bunny brand.
Instead of bringing in lawyers and spending a fortune, Yurosek recalls, "I said to my wife — she's a pretty good drawer — 'Hey, draw me up about 50 bunnies, would you? Then we'll send 'em to Warner Bros. and ask them to tell us which ones we can use.' "
The entertainment giant picked one, and Bunny-Luv lived on for the price of a pencil.