By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Fall is in the air in downtown St Paul – which also means it’s tots season.

Folks are lining up up to get warm, and not from a cup of coffee. Today, it’s all about the tots. And to get them, you have to visit the boss.

The Tot Boss, Dan Docken, started his obsession with tater tots as a kid.

“My mother would make tater tots, her awesome tator tot hot dish,” Docken said

His mother June passed away over a decade ago, and after 30 years in the business of making cabinets, Docken decided it was time to bring his childhood memory to the masses.

“I thought I got to start a food truck, and of course, it has to be tater tots because I love them,” he said.

But how did the tater become a tot? You have to swap this fall foliage for the sandy beaches of Miami. Yep, a Midwestern classic debuted at a potato convention in Miami in the 1950s.

The tiny tubers came from two famous brothers behind Ore-Ida, who were trying to be more efficient in using up potatoes in the booming French fry business.

They are the same potatoes Docken uses today to make his tots the best.

tot boss WCCO Viewers Choice For Best Tater Tots In Minnesota

(credit: CBS)

“We make it with love and our scratch-made toppings really add to the potato,” Docken said.

The Tot Boss started out in 2011 with seven kinds of deep fried, golden nuggets of grated potatoes. It was an instant hit. Today, they have dozens of flavors.

“We have our regular tater tots, bacon-wrapped tater tots, loaded tater tots, poutine tots, nachos, beef burrito, chicken tenders and mini corn dogs tots,” he said.

There is also an ode to his mom — her original tater tot hot dish recipe.

The loaded tater tots are their most popular flavor: golden tots topped with cheddar cheese, bacon crumbles, sour cream and chives.

“The cheese is just melted perfect, and the gravy on top, it’s just good comfort food,” said Farmington resident Rebecca Gemelke.

Of course, they serve them up classic, too. Any way you like them.

If you recognize Docken, that could be because you voted Tot Boss the Best Food Truck in Minnesota back in 2015.

Since then, he has lost more than 100 pounds — even while eating the best tots in Minnesota. So, you better get your tots while they’re hot.

“I’m so blessed,” Docken said. “I have so much support from everyone.”

And no doubt, mom would be proud.

Two years ago, the Tot Boss got into the Minnesota State Fair. Docken said they have been overwhelmed by the response they have gotten there as well.

The Tot Boss is open from April until the first week of November this year, so if you want to find them before they close for the winter, you have one week.


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