'Frying mickeys?'

Here was an exchange I heard in a recent ‘Kojak’ episode, in which Kojak is talking to Crocker about the disposition of the cardboard cartons some crooks are using to transport handguns around NYC:

“And they burn them to fry mickeys, but you wouldn’t know anything about frying mickeys because you’re from Jackson Heights.”

What does this mean?

“Mickeys” are (Irish) potatoes, though I am surprised the reference is to frying and not baking. My Irish-American mother reminisces about the neighborhood kids in the Bronx baking mickeys as a snack in piles of burning leaves in the fall (in the 1930s).

But I wouldn’t expect someone named Kojak to get Irish-American customs quite right either.

Many of the cites I could find going back into the 1930’s said they were sweet potatoes rather than Irish or white potatoes. But, of course, you cooked what you could get.

As far as my parents told me, they were small white potatoes, definitely not sweet potatoes. They would be baked in the leaves until the skins were black. Sweet potatoes, AFAIK, were pretty much limited to around Thanksgiving. I’m not disputing your cites, but it seems much more likely that Irish potatoes would be the ones identified with us Micks.

There still making these things???