J.R. Simplot's Legacy

Highlights of J.R. Simplot's life

John Richard Simplot is born on an Iowa homestead, Jan. 4, 1909.

1909 or 1910: The Simplot family moves to Declo and homesteads land there.

1923: Frustrated with his father’s iron rule, Simplot leaves home. He uses $80 he made selling lambs as collateral on a loan to purchase 600 hogs at a dollar each. He sells the hogs for $8,400, a $7,800 profit, and uses the money for his start in the potato business.

1928: Simplot and his partner, Lindsay Maggart, buy their first potato sorter. Simplot subsequently wins the $254 sorter from Maggart on a coin toss.

Begins shipping fresh onions from Declo as Simplot Produce Co.

1931: Marries Ruby Rosevear of Glenns Ferry.

1933: Begins J.R. Simplot Dehydrating Co.

1938: Buys Bruneau Sheep Co. and Grand View Farms Inc.

Builds onion dehydrator plant at Caldwell. Owns 30,000 acres of farm and ranch land and ships 10,000 boxcars of potatoes to market annually.

1941: Begins shipping dehydrated potatoes and onions to the military.

1943: Begins construction of fertilizer plant at Pocatello.

1945: By World War II’s end, Simplot has shipped 5 million pounds of dehydrated onions and 33 million pounds of dehydrated potatoes to the troops. His company develops frozen french fries and a process for making instant mashed potatoes.

1946: Continues to expand operations by building and expanding plants and developing new products.

1953: Simplot researchers perfect the frozen french fry.

1955: The company officially incorporates, combining all of its operations under the name J.R. Simplot Co.

1960: Jack and Ruby Simplot are divorced.

1962: Opens Simplot of Canada Inc. with a frozen french fry plant in Manitoba.

1967: A handshake with McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc makes Simplot the major supplier of McDonald’s french fries.

1972: Marries Esther Becker.

1976: Simplot is fined $50,000 after being charged with trying to manipulate Maine potato futures.

1977: Simplot and his company pay $40,000 each for failing to report more than $1 million in corporate income and claiming false tax deductions.

1993: Simplot’s son, Richard, dies.

1994: Simplot retires as chairman of the company, giving the office and its duties to his three surviving children and to one grandson.

1998: Gives up skiing at age 89.

2008: Dies of natural causes at age 99.