Baby carrots are a key part of many school lunches, vegetable trays, and healthy snacks. However, unlike regular carrots, these miniature carrots aren’t grown naturally and sold the same way. Baby carrots are full-sized carrots cut into smaller sections, peeled, and pumped through pipes, then formed into the little carrot pieces that are now recognizable on store shelves everywhere.

The process begins when carrots are brought by truck to a processing plant. They are put in ice water until their temperature is brought down enough to prevent spoiling. At this point, they are divided into groups by thickness, as carrots that are too thick will be sold as whole carrots or used to feed cattle. An inspector must sort through the carrots to make sure there are no rocks or bad carrots that passed through.

Automatic cutters chop these carrots into two-inch pieces, then these pieces go through pipes to the peeling tanks. They go through two peeling processes: the rough peel and the final peel. Finally, the carrots are bagged by a machine and kept in a refrigerator or cold storage container until they are ready to be shipped out.

This system has been in use for around thirty years. It originated when Mike Yurosek, a packing plant manager, decided that there must be a better option for the 400 tons of “bad” carrots he threw away each day. He started off by using a potato peeler and knife to peel and cut the full carrots. An industrial green bean cutter was used to cut them into smaller pieces, which is how the two-inch size came about. Yurosek sent them to local grocery stores to test out, and they were a hit.