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Unformatted text preview: cooked their meat, and fed the horse meat to his hogs through the winter. That spring, J. R. Simplot sold the hogs for $12.50 a head and, at
the age of sixteen, became a potato farmer.
The Idaho potato industry was just getting started in the 1920s. The state’s altitude, warm days, cool nights, light volcanic soil, and
abundance of irrigation water made it an ideal setting for growing Russet Burbank potatoes. Simplot leased 160 acres, then bought farm
equipment and a team of horses. He learned how to grow potatoes from his landlord, Lindsay Maggart, who raised yields by planting fresh
seed every year. In 1928, Simplot and Maggart purchased an electric potato sorter; it seemed a remarkable invention. Simplot began sorting
potatoes for his friends and neighbors, but Maggart did not want to share the new device with anyone else. The two men fought over the
potato sorter and then agreed to settle who owned it with the flip of a coin. J. R. Simplot won the coin toss, got the sorter, sold all his farm
equipment, and started his own business in a potato cellar in Declo. He trav...
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- Spring '08