Millions of homes around the US invite the same guest to the dinner table each Thanksgiving — the turkey. And just like a political debate that somehow finds its way to the feast, the meaty main course can be polarizing.
You’ve likely heard the name before; it’s often used to reference a meatless roasted turkey alternative. In truth, Tofurky is a brand encompassing several plant-based protein products made just down the road in Hood River. In honor of the holiday, we’re serving up a generous helping of Tofurky history.
Hatching the brand
It all started with a teacher, naturalist, and tempeh enthusiast named Seth Tibbott. Seth enjoyed sharing his homemade tempeh (a high-protein food made from fermented soybeans) with family and friends. So in 1980, Seth opened a business in Forest Grove dedicated to producing plant-based proteins to help vegans and vegetarians feel more included at the dinner table.
The business expanded to a vacant elementary school in 1983 and Seth built a 300-sqft treehouse to call home — he was ahead of the curve on the tiny house trend. Tofurky’s first Holiday Roast debuted in 1995. Eight hundred roasts were sold that first year; as of 2020, Tofurky had sold more than 7 million.
Today, Tofurky is still a family business with Seth’s stepson Jaime Athos leading the flock as the CEO. The mission remains the same: respecting people, animals, and the planet by “getting every bacon-chomping, barbecue-loving eater out there to see the wisdom of a plant-based diet.”