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Baby carrots are carrots of approximately two inches (5.08 cm) in length, which are sold packed into plastic bags. They are very popular as snacks, often eaten raw with ranch dressing or another type of dip. Many people do not realize that baby carrots are actually not miniature-sized carrots. Instead, they are full-sized carrots with imperfections, which, instead of being discarded, are cut into small segments and peeled, which turns them into ready-to-eat portions.
The concept of baby carrots was invented by a California farmer named Mike Yurosek, who wanted to find a use for carrots that could not be sold whole due to their flaws and imperfections. At his packing plant, as many as 70% of the carrots were culled for cosmetic reasons, which meant that they could generally only be fed to the farm animals. In 1986, he invented baby carrots, which would allow the culled carrots to be packaged and sold to consumers instead of being written off.
Baby carrots soon gained massive popularity in American society as a health food snack. While in the 1960s, Americans ate only 6 pounds (2.72 kg) a year on average, today, most Americans eat 10.5 pounds (4.76 kg) each year. The drastic rise in carrot consumption is due almost completely to the invention of baby carrots, which are much easier to eat than traditional carrots, since they don't need to first be peeled and cut.
Today, nearly all of the baby carrots in the United States are grown in Bakersfield, California. They are sometimes known as "baby-cut" carrots. At supermarkets throughout the United States, baby carrots are bigger sellers than full-sized carrots, even though they can be twice as expensive to buy per pound. Baby carrots benefit from the American desire for pre-packaged foods; today, many fruits and vegetables are sold in pre-cut packaging, including pineapples, melons, onions, celery, and broccoli.
Recently, an even smaller type of baby carrots has appeared in grocery stores in the US. Known as "petite carrots," they are made from the tips of carrots, and can be as small as 1/8th of an inch (3.18 millimeters).