The History of Syracuse Salt Potatoes

Bridge Street

Salt potatoes are a summer staple in Central New York and as the story goes, they have their origins right here in Syracuse.  

The story has always been that salt potatoes were invented in the salt blocks in Syracuse during the 19th century.  Through the new “Hungry for History” grant program from the W.G. Pomeroy Foundation, Onondaga Historical Association was able to find more about the story and find exactly where the famous dish was first served.   

Bob Searing from OHA tells us they believe that Irish immigrant, Daniel Keefe was the originator of salt potatoes.  Keefe came to Syracuse in the early 1840s and worked as a salt boiler.  He and his wife, Elizabeth settled in the first ward on Carbon Street. His sons, Arthur and James ran a grocery store on Wolf Street.  Along with the store came a tavern called “Keefe Brothers” that had one thing on the menu, salt potatoes.  

OHA believes this correlates to the folklore and even found documentation from a newspaper that can prove that this delectable dish came from the salt blocks.  

The “Hungry for History” grant program is celebrating history along with cultural heritage of regionally significant dishes made prior to 1960.  The program will help communities nationwide with a historic roadside marker about the dish.  

They will be having a launch party for the Hungry for History program on June 24th from 4-6 pm at Willow Rock Brewing Company.  

 You can learn more by visiting WGPfoundation.org and CNYhistory.org

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