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Tater tacks

Simple skewers speed up potato cooking process

Spokane author Leon Frechette created Spud Spikes, large stainless steel baking potato nails that help conduct oven heat into the center of potatoes and speed up baking time. Frechette and his wife, Kimberly, also have created a line of baked potato seasonings.

It’s not even 9 a.m. and Leon Frechette’s house is already filled with the aroma of baking potatoes.

Frechette, a former Spokane contractor and author of several books on building and remodeling, was researching a book on alternative building materials at a show in Las Vegas when he and his wife, Kimberly, came across the idea of potato nails while talking to a manufacturer.

“There was a bucket of these long nails on the ground and she reached in and pulled one out and said ‘Spud spikes,’ just like that. We registered the name the next day and have been working on it ever since,” Frechette said.

Frechette now helps make the 6-inch, stainless steel potato baking nails, polishing the spikes in a final deburring process to make them smooth. The idea is to push them through the center of baking potatoes to speed up the cooking process. Frechette said it can sometimes cut it in half.

“What the nail is doing is it allows the heat to come in from both ends to the center of the potato so that it can cook from the inside out,” Frechette said.

The spikes are manufactured in the United States and because they are stainless steel, they won’t leave dark marks in the potato flesh. Customers who share Frechette’s concern about studies showing aluminum may leach into foods from bakeware and foil can use the spikes without worry.

For Frechette, the nails are the key to the kind of baked potatoes he loves to eat. Once he has skewered a Russet potato lengthwise with a spike, he sprays the outside with olive oil and sprinkles it with a signature spice blend that they developed, Spud Spikes Gourmet Original Potato Skin Rub and Everyday Seasoning. He also has created garlic and red pepper seasoning blends.

Put the potato into a 325- to 450-degree oven (the temperature depends on the size and number of potatoes) and bake until it is soft. The result is a spud that is fluffy inside and has a crisp skin.

The spikes can be used to skewer baby potatoes or sweet potatoes. Or, try sausages or bratwurst. “They stay straighter and lay in the bun nicer once you remove the spike,” he said.

Spud Spikes are sold online for $19.99 for package of four. Seasoning blends are $9.99 each. A package of the three seasoning blends is $22.99, on sale.

There is more information about Spud Spikes and links to online retailers at