JR Simplot, founder of the potato products giant of the same name, has died at the age of 99. He is most well-known as the inventor of the frozen french fry,
JR's son, Scott, who is chairman of the firm issued a statement thanking the public for the "outpouring of love and condolences" the family had received as it mourned a father and a grandfather.
Larry Hlobik, president and CEO of the Idaho-based company, sent condolences to family members. "JR was the most beloved figure in our organisation and a man we all admired very much," he said. "You know that a person might not be with you for that much longer when they reach 99 years of age, but this is still a shock. He was one of those people who seemed like they could live forever."
Simplot was founded in 1923 when JR purchased a potato sorter and began working for nearby farms. By the 1940s, the business had become the largest shipper of fresh potatoes in the country and was selling millions of pounds of dehydrated onions and potatoes to the military.
The defining moment of the business occurred in the 1960s when JR persuaded fast food chain McDonalds to purchase his frozen french fries. Simplot now has revenues of over $3 billion.
JR retired from the company in 1973 but continued to hold the position of chairman until 1994. His family still owns and works in the company. As well as chairman Scott, daughter Gay and grandson Ted are both directors.