In October 1995, the potato became the first vegetable to be grown in space.
The Incas used the sun, moon, stars and potatoes to measure the passage of time. In the 1650s, Spanish missionary Bernabé Cobo reported that the time it took to boil a pot of potatoes was a basic unit as common as our hour. The Quechua language terms were hok yanoy chika (“one cooking so much”) and hok wayk’oy (“one cooking”).
The potato is the world’s fourth most-consumed food crop, following rice, wheat, and maize.
In the 1940s and 1950s, Phytophthora infestans, the pathogen that caused the Great Irish Famine, was under consideration by the U.S. for potential use in biological warfare.
In Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Greedo speaks Quechua language as he confronts Han Solo in the Mos Eisley cantina. The Quechua are indigenous potato farmers from the Andes who are known as “The Guardians of the Potato.” The word “potato” derives from the Spanish word “patata” which in turn derives from the Quechua word “papa.”
One of the earliest mentions of “hash browns” was in the pilot episode of the Twilight Zone in 1959. Prior to that, they were commonly referred to as “hashed browned potatoes.
According to myths from several ancient cultures, illnesses and ailments, such as rheumatism, can be cured simply by carrying around a potato in one’s pocket or around one’s neck. The catch: the potato has to be stolen.
Potato farmer J.R. Simplot began selling frozen french fries to McDonald’s on a handshake deal with Ray Kroc in 1965. By the 2000s, per capita use of frozen potatoes outweighed fresh potatoes at 55 lbs and 42 lbs per year, respectively.
The potato plant produces purple flowers. In the late 1700s, wearing the potato flower was briefly in vogue among the French aristocracy. King Louis XVI started the trend by wearing one in his buttonhole.
Dan Quayle’s birthday is today, February 4th.
Mr. Potato Head was the first toy to be advertised on television. Hasbro began manufacturing the toy in 1952 and it’s been in production ever since.
The sweet potato is only distantly related to the potato. The sweet potato shares a genus with morning glories (Ipomoea), while the potato is a nightshade (Solanum).
Infestations of the Colorado Potato Beetle led to the first use of artificial pesticides. The beetle, which has since grown resistant to many pesticides, spread as far as Europe where it infested half the potato fields in Soviet-occupied Germany after WWII. The GDR government made the claim that the beetles were dropped by American planes, earning the insects the name Amikäfer (“Yankee beetles.”)
French fries were first served in the White House by Thomas Jefferson in the early 1800s.
In the 1850s, Congress passed the Guano Islands Act, under which the U.S. assumed ownership of over 100 Pacific islands for their rich guano deposits. About ten of these islands remain U.S. territory today. Peruvian guano became prized in the 1800s for its use in gunpowder production, but also its use as fertilizer for potato crops. Guano remains one of the most sought after organic fertilizers to this day.
In 1943, the USS O’Bannon encountered a Japanese submarine in the middle of the night. Too close for gun battle, the crew began hurling potatoes at the enemy sub. Believing the potatoes were hand grenades, the Japanese crew was too preoccupied to man the sub’s 3-inch deck gun, allowing O’Bannon to reach firing distance and eventually sink the sub with a depth charge.
On July 31, 2014, Ashrita Furman set the world record for most mashed potatoes eaten in 30 seconds: 290 g (10.23 oz)
In 1774, Frederick the Great of Prussia ordered his subjects to grow potatoes to protect against famine. In a letter, the town of Kolberg wrote back to him: “The things have neither smell nor taste, not even the dogs will eat them, so what use are they to us?”
As with many fruits and vegetables from the New World, potatoes were met with suspicion in Europe prior to the 18th century. Among other diseases, potatoes were believed to cause leprosy. Famines, changes in government policy, and climate change (see: the Little Ice Age) led to wider acceptance and consumption of the potato by the late 1700s.
Decades ago, workers at the Herr’s factory would pick out potato chips with brown or green spots by hand. Today, the factory’s OptoSort technology takes photos of chips on the belt, identifies discolored ones, and removes them from the line with a tiny puff of air. Technology like this allows Herr’s to produce 5 to 6 tons of chips every hour.
The “World’s Largest Potato Chip” located at the World Potato Expo in Blackfoot, Idaho is arguably not a chip at all. Made from processed dehydrated potatoes and measuring in at 25×14 inches, it is actually considered a “crisp” (like a Pringle). Proper chips are made from thinly sliced potatoes fried in oil.
Wild potatoes are highly toxic. The toxins are easily absorbed by clay, which is why the guanaco, a wild relative of the llama, licks clay before eating potato plants. Ancient mountain peoples mimicked this practice by dunking their potatoes in a “gravy” of water and clay before eating them.
Chris Voigt, head of the Washington State Potato Commission, lost 21 lbs and lowered his cholesterol by 61 points after eating 20 potatoes a day for 60 days straight. He did so to prove the point that potatoes are nutritious and shouldn’t be banned from school lunchrooms.
The oxalic acid in a potato is an effective rust remover. Cut a potato in half, dip the cut end into baking soda or dish soap and rub on baking pans, knives, and other household tools to remove the rust.
The red-skinned, orange-fleshed sweet potato (Ipomoea batata) is distinct from the brown-skinned, white-fleshed yam (Dioscorea spp). Sweet potatoes were originally marketed as “yams” to avoid confusion with the established white potato (Solanum tubersom). Per the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act of 1930 (PACA), mislabeling a sweet potato as a yam is illegal and should be reported to the PACA’s Misbranding Officer at (202) 720-5073.
The USDA has rescued five beagles from animal shelters and trained them to sniff out a specific type of contraband in JFK International Airport: meat and produce. Travelers from Peru with undeclared potatoes are some of the most common offenders. In 2013, the beagles foiled 21 smuggling attempts involving Peruvian potatoes (which are deemed by foodies and Peruvian immigrants to be far superior to U.S.-grown potatoes).
Archaeological evidence suggests that sweet potatoes, which originated in South America, were being eaten in the islands of the Pacific as early as the 11th or 12th century. This supports the theory that Polynesian sailors reached the coasts of America centuries before Columbus set sail.
Vincent van Gogh’s “The Potato Eaters” was meant to portray peasants who had “tilled the earth themselves with these hands they are putting in the dish” and thus “honestly earned their food.” The painting was stolen by art thieves twice: an early version from the Kröller-Müller Museum in 1988 and the final version from the Vincent van Gogh National Museum in 1991. Both paintings were recovered.
During the late 1700s, French army medical officer Antoine-Augustine Parmentier learned that potatoes were safe for consumption after being forced to eat them in a Prussian prison. Back in France, he launched an aggressive campaign to popularize potatoes, going as far as stationing armed guards around his potato patch so they would appear valuable. His guards would even accept bribes so people could “steal” the potatoes.
In Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, when the Millennium Falcon first encounters the asteroid field, three asteroids enter from the top-left corner of the screen. The third asteroid is actually a potato. There is also a shoe among the asteroids. The shoe and potato were edited out of the DVD version.
During WWII, J.R. Simplot developed and produced dehydrated potatoes at the request of the U.S. Army. With troops halfway across the globe, reducing shipping weights for food supplies was vital. Dehydrated potatoes were a logistical success, but overexposure gave them a bad name by the end of the war—the troops were sick of them.
In 2008, a Lebanese farmer dug up a potato that weighed nearly 25 pounds. It was bigger than his head.
Like U.S. troops in WWII, Incan armies in the 13th century were sustained by dried potatoes. Chuño was made by leaving potatoes outside to freeze overnight, thawing them in the morning sun and then pressing the water out of them. This was one of the earliest and most successful methods of freeze-drying.
The Irish company Tayto, founded by Joe “Spud” Murphy, introduced the first mass market flavored chip in the 1950s: cheese and onion. Prior to this innovation, potato chips came with a twist of salt in the bag that you had to apply yourself before eating.
In the U.K., baked potatoes are called “jacket potatoes.”
In the mid-1700s, Denis Diderot published one of the first descriptions of the potato: “No matter how you prepare it, the root is tasteless and starchy. It cannot be regarded as an enjoyable food, but it provides abundant, reasonably healthy food for men who want nothing but sustenance.”
The J.R. Simplot Co. created a 1 ton, 30 inch wide by 60 foot long hash brown made from 16,000 potatoes to serve at the annual Caldwell Chamber of Commerce Buckaroo Breakfast. The Guinness Book of World Records did not accept the hash brown as a record, because there was not a proper category for it and food records are difficult to prove.
Although potatoes are now associated with industrial-scale monoculture, there are over 4,000 native potato varieties grown in the Andes.
In some interpretations, dreaming of potatoes is an auspicious sign denoting that the dreamer will lead a comfortable life. In other interpretations, to see or eat mashed potatoes in a dream suggests that the dreamer has financial concerns on the mind.
In June 2013, rapper Sean Price appeared on Pawn Stars and attempted to pawn a potato off on Chumlee. He claimed that it had been thrown at Martin Luther King, Jr. during the 1960s Civil Rights era and was thus worth $100,000.
Contrary to popular belief, only about 20% of a potato’s nutrients are in the skin. Most of the vitamin C and potassium are found in the flesh. The skin, however, has most of the fiber.
During its in-flight WiFi tests, Boeing utilized a system they called Synthetic Personnel Using Dielectric Substitution (SPUDS). SPUDS consisted of 20,000 lbs of potatoes sacked and seated in the cabin in order to mimic the interaction of radio-wave signals with human bodies. The potatoes were later donated to a food bank.
Nutritionally, the potato has been called a “nearly perfect food.” According to the USDA, “a diet of whole milk and potatoes would supply almost all of the food elements necessary for the maintenance of the human body.”
For over 50 years, it was illegal to sell 8 lb bags of potatoes in Pennsylvania until the “Free the Potatoes” bill was passed. The bill received unanimous bipartisan support in both the house and senate and was signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett in Dec. 2013
In July 2014, Ohio resident Zack Brown started a Kickstarter campaign to raise $10 to make potato salad. By the end of his campaign in August 2014, he had raised over $55,000 from approximately 6,900 backers.
A battery made from a raw potato can produce about 1V of electricity. Researchers have used boiled potatoes to produce approximately 10 times as much electricity per potato. At a cost of about $9 per kWh, the potato battery is being researched as a possible source of low cost energy in developing nations.
In the early 1950s, Mormon entrepreneurs F. Nephi and Golden Grigg began developing a way to utilize the leftover potato slivers from their french fry processing plant in Oregon. By 1958, their company, Ore-Ida, had trademarked the name for the cylinder-shaped miniature potato cake they had invented: the Tater Tot.
In 2002, McDonald’s issued an apology and paid a $10 million settlement in response to a lawsuit alleging that their switch from beef tallow to vegetable oil had misconstrued their fries as suitable for vegetarians. Today, although McDonald’s no longer uses beef tallow, the fries are still not vegetarian-friendly, as they contain “natural beef flavor.”
Sprouted potatoes turn green because they begin producing chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is actually harmless, but the other glycoalkaloids produced at the same time may be harmful in high concentrations (30mg per 100g of potato). These toxins are most concentrated in the “eyes” and skin.
Kennywood’s Potato Patch fries up about 200 tons of potatoes each year. Each serving is about one pound.
When Procter & Gamble first introduced Pringles in the U.K., they called them “savory snacks” rather than potato chips. The reason: food in the UK isn’t taxed, but potato chips (“crisps”) are. In 2009, the Supreme Court ruled that Pringles are indeed potato chips and that P&G owed about $160 million in back taxes
Eating dirt or clay (“geophagy”) is a common craving for pregnant women. Researchers theorize that clay may have been the original “mineral supplement” and is highly beneficial for pregnant women. Anthropologists also note that the indigenous people of South America ate potatoes dipped in a gravy of clay and water in order to neutralize the toxic glycoalkaloids present in wild potatoes.
About $2 billion a year is spent protecting the world’s potato crops from pests and pathogens using sprays, chemicals, and other treatments. Without such human intervention, the potato as we know it would almost certainly die out.
Today’s Andean potato farmers are descended from the Quechuas who created the Inca Empire. There are thousands of Quechua names for the native potato varieties still cultivated in the area. For example, “papa llunchuy waqachi” is the potato that makes the new bride weep because it is so difficult to peel.
During the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1800s, approximately 100,000 prospectors flocked to the Yukon in search of riches. Many of them died of scurvy or “Canadian black leg” when the harsh winters made fresh food unavailable. Potatoes, which have about 50% DV of vitamin C per serving, are said to have sold for their weight in gold during this time.
In recent years, rising temperatures and low rainfall have forced Quechuan farmers to plant potatoes at elevations of 4,000 meters, where traditionally they have been grown at 3,200 meters. With the mountains rising no higher than 4,500 meters, researchers at the International Potato Center predict that there will be nowhere to grow the region’s 1,400 native varieties of potatoes in 40 years.
Chuño, an ancient freeze-dried potato product, can keep its nutritional value for 10 years. Archaeologists have unearthed chuño from the 2,200 year old Tiwanaku site in Bolivia. Although likely inedible, the discovery testifies to the durability of the product and the antiquity of the process.
Alastair Galpin holds the record for creating the world’s longest potato peel. It was a single strip of potato peel measuring 1.582 meters (about 5.19 feet). For those attempting to beat Galpin’s record, he offers a mentoring service for “reasonable rates.”
In December 2014, McDonald’s began rationing french fries in Japan due to U.S. West Coast port labor disputes. Efforts to airlift 1,000 tons of french fries to Japan and ship 1,600 tons from the East Coast ports have not been able to meet the demand for fries. Only small size fries are currently available in McDonald’s restaurants in Japan.
The word “potato” is derived from “batata,” which originally referred to what we know of now as the sweet potato. The common white potato was first introduced to the American colonies in 1621 and was known as the “Virginia potato” or “bastard potato.”
The potato was first domesticated in South America in modern day southern Peru/Northwestern Bolivia between 8000 and 5000 BCE.
Potatoes are high in potassium and can be an effective headache remedy, particularly for those caused by hangovers.
Per the 1962 #1 hit “Mashed Potato Time” by Dee Dee Sharp, the mashed potato dance craze was credited to a “guy named Sloppy Joe.” However, James Brown had been performing the dance move as early as the 1950s during his live shows.
In 2014, Bird’s Eye began marketing its new product, Mashtags: an oven-baked potato product in the shape of social media characters, including hearts, asterisks, hash tags, and smileys. Mashtags are currently only available in the U.K.
By cooking down a mixture of 10 parts water to 1 part unmodified potato starch, you can create an organic, chemical-free wallpaper paste. This paste is best for “paper-paper” applications and creates a very strong bond, so removal may take some effort.
The first 10-hole ocarina was created in Italy by Giuseppe Donati in the 1850s. By the early 1900s, the Ocarina was for sale in the Sears mail order catalog. It was advertised under its new American name, which reflected its distinctive shape and sound: the Sweet Potato.
In 2014, Olympic Gold Medalist Mo Farah set a new Guinness World Record by completing a 100m potato sack race in 39.91 seconds. It took him three attempts to set the benchmark for the new world record.
In China, the potato is called “tudou” which means “earth bean.” China is the number one producer and consumer of potatoes worldwide. Historically, though, China ranks low on per capita consumption as it has only recently begun embracing the potato as a staple food.
The number of potato-producing farms in the U.S. has decreased from about 51,500 farms in the 1970s to about 15,000 in 2007. Nationwide potato production, however, has increased from about 14 million metric tons in 1975 to 19 million metric tons in 2005.
The potato is never mentioned in the Bible. For this reason, the Orthodox church initially regarded it with suspicion. The modern day “Bible Diet” also restricts potatoes, but primarily because potato foods are usually highly processed and high in carbohydrates.
New potato crops are grown from seed potatoes, which are not seeds at all, but rather pieces of potato that have been replanted. If growing conditions are right, potato plants will produce fruit, which contain actual potato seeds with new genetic properties. The potato fruit resembles a small, green tomato and contains poisonous levels of solanine.
The Kartoffelkäfer-Abwehrdienst (Potato Beetle Defence Service) was established during WWII to research the potential weaponization of the Colorado potato beetle. In Oct. 1943, researchers painted 40,000 beetles and airdropped them over fields near Speyer. The results were inconclusive. To date, there are no known cases of the beetle being deployed in “entomological warfare.”
Running for Team World Vision, Andrew McKenzie set the Guinness World Record for “fastest marathon dressed as a Mr. Potato head” in Australia in October 2012: 3 hr 38 min and 20 s. McKenzie’s gag elicited amusement, derision, and sometimes despair among runners and bystanders. He recalled hearing one runner state: “l don’t want to be beaten by a potato. That’s the stuff of nightmares!”
Properly stored, potatoes will stay good for 1-2 weeks (room temp) or 2-3 months (45-55%). In the fridge, the starch in the potato will begin to convert to sugar, which causes discoloration and an unpleasantly sweet taste when cooked.
Purple potatoes have a very similar flavor and nutritional profile to white potatoes. The big difference: purple potatoes contain anthocynanin, the same deeply pigmented antioxidant contained in blueberries and pomegranates. This flavonoid is known for its cancer-fighting and immunity-boosting properties.
While a group of Eastern North Carolina farmers were exploring sweet potato ethanol fuel as a use for farm waste (e.g. unmarketable “ugly” potatoes), another idea came up: sweet potato vodka. Each 750 ml bottle of Covington Gourmet Vodka is made from about 20 lbs of local sweet potatoes. They call it “The best yam vodka on Earth!”
To prevent them from sprouting, grocery store potatoes are sprayed with a chemical growth inhibitor, such as chlorpropham or maleic hydrazide. This allows potatoes to be stored for several months after harvesting (the potato you buy in March was probably harvested in October).
In 2012, CAREnergy president Dr. Janice Bohac-Ryan toured NPR while pushing a 20+ lb. sweet potato in a baby stroller. The so-called eTuber™ (described as being the size of a turkey and shape of a human heart) was expected to yield 1,800 gal of ethanol per acre, compared to the 300 gal per acre typical of corn. However, the project has been mysteriously abandoned and the trademark is dead.
In 2013, Kim Medford received a world record-breaking 38-inch curly fry in her order from a local Arby’s in Asheville, NC. Arby’s fry manufacturing process has a standard “cut size” for its fries, but not for the length. Usually, the fries break up into smaller pieces during shipping.
In Spring 2015, SuperNaturals Grafted Vegetables will begin selling the curious “Ketchup ‘n’ Fries” plant, which bears both potatoes and tomatoes. Because they are from the same family of nightshades, the cherry tomato plant can be grafted onto an established white potato stem without genetic modification.
In the 1970s, 78 students fell ill after eating potatoes that had been stored from the last summer and developed toxic levels of solanine. Though this was an extreme case, it is a best practice to store potatoes in a dark, place and discard if they become sprouted and green under the skin.
By some accounts, the French fry as we know it was invented by the Belgians in the late 17th/early 18th century as an alternative to fried fish when the rivers were frozen solid. At this point in history, the French believed that eating potatoes caused disease.
Slice the top 1/3 off a baked potato. Hollow it out to make a bowl. Crack an egg into it. Top with bacon, cheese, and parsley. Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees. This is called an Idaho Sunrise.
Dioscorea bulbifera, or the “air potato,” is a toxic species of yam originating from tropical Asia. The air potato is edible after the toxins have been extracted through soaking, fermentation, or roasting. The poisonous extract has been used as a bait or arrow poison for hunting tigers, monkeys, and fish.
In 2012, Chef Joäl Robuchon and 200 student apprentices set the Guinness World Record for creating the largest serving of mashed potatoes using 1,764 lbs of potatoes, 551 lbs of butter and 80 gallons of milk. To qualify for food records, the food must be consumed, so the potatoes were served to park-goers during Le Futuroscope in Poiters 25th anniversary celebration.
Green spots on potato chips are from chlorophyll, which a potato starts producing under the right circumstances. Toxic solanine is produced at the same time as chlorophyll and is concentrated in the skin, which is removed for potato chip processing, meaning green potato chips are completely safe to eat.
In the mid-19th century, Boston was a town run by some 115,000 descendents of English puritans. Near the beginning of the Irish Potato Famine in 1847, approximately 37,000 Irish Catholics immigrated to Boston, marking the beginning of a massive social revolution.
When frying oil is too cold, potatoes will absorb more fat and cook slower. Hissing and sizzling is a good sign of proper oil temp—as long as steam is escaping, fat isn’t getting in, and very little oil will be absorbed.
When fried potatoes are golden, brown, and delicious (GBD), it is due to the Maillard reaction: a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars in a food that creates hundreds of new flavor compounds. This occurs at 284F-329F (hotter than boiling water), which means the potatoes must be roasted or fried to achieve proper browning.
Strict followers of Jainism adopt a doctrine of nonviolence to animals, microorganisms, and even plants. For this reason (among others), some Jain diets exclude root vegetables, such as garlic, onions, and potatoes. Unlike most edible terrestrial plants, uprooting a potato kills the entire plant as well as the tiny life forms that surround it in the earth.
“Spud” was originally a mid-19th century word to describe a “sharp, narrow spade” used to dig up large rooted plants—for example, potatoes. The apocryphal origin story that claims that the “spud” nickname comes from an anti-potato group called “The Society for Prevention of an Unwholesome Diet (SPUD)” is false.
In the first 9 years of his tenure, Prime Minister Tony Blair created laws resulting in 3,000 new criminal offences in the U.K. (approx. 1 per day in office). For example, the Polish Potatoes (Notification) (England) Order 2004, which states: “No person shall, potatoes which he knows to be or has reasonable cause to suspect to be Polish potatoes.”in the course of business, import into England
Chuñio or chuñiu, a freeze-dried potato product developed by ancient indigenous South Americans, could be stored for 10 years without losing its nutritional value. Spanish colonists relied on chuñio to sustain their slave labor force working in the mines. They called it “the other Andean silver.”
Both organic and conventional potato farmers are subject to the “insecticide treadmill”: the ongoing battle to suppress pests and disease as they develop resistance to various chemicals and sprays. Researchers have identified a gene that could make potatoes naturally resistant to Phytophythora infestans, the potato blight that caused multiple famines throughout history. However, GMO potatoes have been difficult to market, with large buyers such as McDonald’s declining to use them.
Potato pancakes are a Polish Easter tradition, but the original traditional fried food was the Jewish latke. “Latke” is derived from the Old Russian word “oladka” which traces back to a Greek word for “little oily thing.” This hearkens to the Miracle of the Oil: In 165 BC, after Jerusalem was recaptured from the Syrian-Greek King Antiochus, the golden menorah stayed lit in the temple for eight days using one day’s worth of pure olive oil. Eating fried foods during Hanukkah commemorates this miracle. worth of pure olive oil. Eating fried foods during Hanukkah commemorates this miracle.
The iconic Russet potato is often equated with the Idaho potato. Russets, however, are grown in many states across the country, A recent case in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York confirmed that the registered trademark “Idaho® only be used to describe potatoes grown in the state of Idaho.potato” (owned by the Idaho Potato Commission) can
In Sep. 2012, a group of 300 activists in Robertson, New South Wales organized to “Save the Big Potato.” The Big Potato was created in 1977 by Jim Mauger as a 4x10m concrete homage to the area’s potato heritage. According to backers, “The Big Potato is to Robertson as the Opera House is to Sydney.” However, Mauger decided to put it up for sale because he was unable to keep up with the property taxes.
Potatoes have some unusual homeopathic uses. It is believed that soaking a towel with leftover potato cooking water and applying it to the face for 10 minutes a day will fade freckles over time. Bandaging a slice of raw potato against a wart for a week may remove it (if no results, try garlic). Raw potato can also soothe 1st degree burns and insect bites.
Regular potato chips are fried on a conveyer belt in a continuous process. Kettle cooked potato chips are fried in smaller batches in vats (aka kettles). Dunking and removing the chips lowers the oil temperature, so the chips cook more slowly and the texture of the chip is noticeably different. Nutritionally speaking, the differences are negligible.
In the 1950s, Alice Hancock picked a small potato from her property and began keeping it in her apron for good luck. It was passed on to her granddaughter Deborah Skipper in 2004. After 60 years, the potato remains in the family, though it’s shriveled to the size of a coin. In 2014, it was declared the oldest potato in the world by the Daily Mirror.
In 1859 on San Juan Island, American farmer Lyman Cutlar shot a large, black pig that was eating potatoes on his property. The pig belonged to Irishman Charles Griffin. The dispute between the two escalated, resulting in a military standoff between the U.S. and British armies (both nations claimed to own the island). No additional shots were ever fired, and after 15 years of negotiations, military forces withdrew, putting an end to the so-called “Pig and Potato War.”
Until the mid-19th century, Russian peasants passively resisted laws that required potato cultivation. The “potato revolts” turned violent when the laws were enforced by the “iron hand” of Tsar Nicholas l, who deployed armed troops to quell the insurgency. Over 500,000 peasants revolted for religious, political, and superstitious causes. By the turn of the century, the potato had become an integral part of Russian cuisine and culture.
According to a study published in Nature in 1963, less than 1% of people dislike the taste of potatoes.
Musician and motivational partier Andrew W.K. enjoys touring Cleveland, OH because you can order “jojos” (spiced potato wedges) in lieu of fries or hash browns. He says he doesn’t usually order them, because he doesn’t like to say “potato wedges”. But in Cleveland, he can ask for jojos and get a “delicious potato meal” without all the embarrassment and awkwardness of having to say “potato wedges.”
An oven uses dry heat to cook a potato from the outside in, promoting the Maillard reaction. This produces a high level of pyrazines (flavor compounds crucial to the classic baked potato taste) in the dried and roasted potato skin. In the microwave, heat is produced by the water molecules throughout the potato. The potato is cooked from the inside out and the Maillard reaction doesn’t occur.
Biome Bioplastics is working to develop a number of biodegradable products, including the first compostable coffee pod. The Ireland-based company uses plant-based starches for its bioplastics, including Biome3D, a biodegradable thermoplastic used in 3D printers. Biome3D is made from potatoes.
In June 1880, the training ship USS Constellation was modified at New York Navy Yard for a special mission. The armaments and some of the ballast were removed, and the sloop was outfitted with bins on the orlop deck to carry a cargo of over 2,500 barrels of potatoes and flour to Ireland for the relief effort during The Great Famine.
French fries are enjoyed around the world with condiments other than ketchup, such as mayonnaise (Belgium, Netherlands), a brine cheese called “sirene” (Bulgaria), a garlic sauce called “mujdei” (Romania), curry (U.K.), chili sauce (Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore), cocktail sauce (Iceland) , beef gravy and cheese curds (Canada, see: poutine), and sugar sprinkled over a dollop of soft butter (Vietnam).
“Spud guns” are considered recreational, non-destructive devices by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), but classifications vary widely state-to-state. For example, in Illinois, Maryland, and parts of Arizona and Wisconsin, potato guns are not considered firearms. In Texas, they are. Spud guns are illegal in Florida.
While working for the Rockefeller Foundation’s Mexican Agricultural Program, John S. Niederhauser discovered that the potato blight that caused the Irish Potato Famine originated in Mexico. He helped develop disease-resistant potato varieties and increased potato production worldwide, earning him the nickname “Mr. Potato.”
The Scoville rating for bhut jolokia, aka the “ghost pepper,” is over 1 million (by comparison, Tabasco sauce is about 5,000 to 10,000). In spite of containing dehydrated ghost peppers, the ‘”Ghost Pepper Fries” from Wendy’s are as mild as a cool spring day.
Some recipes call for different cooking temperatures at high altitudes. However, the McDonald’s in the U.S. city with the lowest altitude and the McDonald’s in the U.S. city with the highest altitude both cook their fries in 340 degree oil.
About 8,000 years ago, a bacteria called Agrobacterium inserted some foreign genes into a plant that is the wild ancestor to the sweet potato, or so suggests a study conducted by the International Potato Center in Peru. This would make the sweet potato the first and oldest known genetically modified organism (GMO).
Potatoes and sweet potatoes are different species of plant. Biologically, the edible part of a potato is a stem. For a sweet potato, it’s a root. The “eyes” on the stem tuber of a potato are buds. Sweet potatoes do not have eyes—rather, stems grow out of one end and unmodified non-tuberous roots grow out of the other.
Taco Bell is testing a new menu item in Bellevue, Nebraska and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: Potato Crisp Nachos. Potato Crisp Nachos have the same toppings as the Nachos Bell Grande, but with thick-cut potato chips instead of tortilla chips.
On a diplomatic visit to Russia, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry received a basket of Krasnodar potatoes as a gift from Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. This was a nod to Kerry’s gift of two Idaho potatoes to Lavrov during a previous visit. At the time, Lavrov promised they would be eaten, and not turned into vodka.
Some of the oldest archaeological remains of potatoes and sweet potatoes were found in the Pampas des Las Llamas-Moxeke site in northern Peru. Evidence of charcoal on the skins indicated that humans were baking potatoes on the periphery of an open fire as far back as 3,500 years ago.
Visitors to Frederick the Great’s tomb in Potsdam, Germany often leave potatoes on top of the gravesite. This is in honor of the king’s introduction of potatoes to the kingdom of Prussia. Though initially met with great resistance from the people, the potato eventually became a staple crop in Germany.
Potatoes are mentioned in two Shakespeare plays. In the Merry Wives of Windsor, Falstaff cries: “Let the sky rain potatoes!” This instance most likely references the sweet potato, which was believed to be an aphrodisiac at the time.
In 2011, The AP Stylebook added a 16-page section on food terminology. The word “french fry” is not capitalized, because “french” refers to a style of cut, and not a place of origin. “Sloppy Joe” is capitalized, but “bloody mary” is not.
Since 2014, potato prices have skyrocketed in Turkey, making what was once a staple food a luxury food. Economy Minister Nihat Zeybecki partially blames it on hoarding, and states the government is ready to “teach a lesson” to potato profiteers and “if need be, blow up the potato in their faces” by green-lighting Iranian potato imports.
According to Witchipedia, the “online encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Paganism, and the occult,” potatoes can be carved into poppets for sympathetic magick. Blue potatoes can be added to a magical meal to bring in the energy of the color blue.
Geese are among the few animals known to dig up and eat raw potatoes. The pink-footed goose is notorious for its foraging habits in the Arctic, which leaves the soil exposed and produces carbon dioxide. By some estimates, the carbon foot print of a pink-footed goose is twice that of an average patio heater.
Potato salad left out at picnics in the hot sun carries a high food borne illness risk, though not because of the mayonnaise. In spite of containing raw eggs, the emulsification, high salt content, and acidity of store-bought mayonnaise makes it inhospitable to microorganisms. The potatoes—especially improperly cooled potatoes—are usually the culprit.
In Petaluma, California, a would-be burglar broke into a house but was sidetracked by hunger. He heated up some frozen tater tots, and then fell asleep on the couch. He was awoken after the homeowner discovered him and called the police. He fled the scene but was subdued, tasered, and then jailed in lieu of a $30,000 bail.
In Canada, there have been at least two reports of nails found embedded in potatoes. The investigation led by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is in the early stages. Last year, a $100,000 reward was offered for information about sewing needles found in Prince Edward Island potatoes. No link between the incidents has yet been uncovered.
Some vegetables contain trace amounts of nicotine. For example, ten whole, raw eggplants contain about as much nicotine as you’d get from inhaling secondhand smoke for 3 hours (1 microgram). It’d take 140 potatoes to get the same amount of nicotine—plus, some of the nicotine will be diffused in the cooking water.
In 1976, TV enthusiast and cartoonist Robert Armstrong popularized “couch potato,” after his friend coined the term as a pun of “the tube” and “tuber.” Claiming the phrase shed negative light on potato farmers, members of Britain’s Potato Council picketed outside Oxford University Press, seeking to remove it from the dictionary and replace it with the more potato-friendly “couch slouch.”
Hasselback potatoes (aka “accordion potatoes” and “pillbug potatoes”) are named for the restaurant that made them famous: Hasselbacken in Stockholm, Sweden. To make hasselback potatoes, make slices straight down into a potato but stop short of cutting all the way through. Brush with butter or oil, bake for 30 minutes, brush again and then bake for another 30 minutes. Top with normal baked potato toppings.
In Hobbs, New Mexico, a woman awoke to find a strange man wiping down the counter in her kitchen while baking a potato in the microwave. When police arrived on the scene, he had left the kitchen and had begun raking leaves in the front yard.
Sweet potatoes are known for having a high glycemic index (Gl), which means they have a rapid effect on blood sugar. Boiling sweet potatoes versus baking them cuts the GI nearly in half. Toppings (e.g., mini marshmallows, brown sugar, butter) have an impact, too.
For $9.99, PotatoParcel.com will write a personalized message on a potato and mail it anonymously to a person of your choosing. Messages can be up to 140 characters. 100 character messages written on slightly smaller potatoes can be sent for $7.99.
While higher temperatures, greater prevalence of pests, and decreased rainfall threaten potatoes, researcher Alberto Salas from the International Potato Center believes that potatoes will survive climate change and help us survive it as well. Not only do potatoes grow faster and larger in atmospheres with high levels of C02, they are also highly adaptable and can grow in practically any climate.
The Colt-Browner M1895 was the first gas-powered machine gun to be successfully entered into service. The 1914 version of the weapon featured a lower tripod position for prone firing. In this position, the operating lever would dig into the ground, which is likely how it got its nickname: the “potato digger.”
“Pot-8-os” was a famous 18th century Thoroughbred who defeated some of the greatest racehorses and became an influential sire. After a stable lad mistakenly wrote the horse’s name as “Potoooooooo” (literally “pot” and eight Os) on a feed bin, the alternate spelling stuck and was recorded in the General Stud Book.
In ascending order of richness, mashed, creamed, and whipped potatoes vary in their ratios of cream, milk, and butter to potatoes. Whipped potatoes peaked in popularity in 1933, with the advent of the electric mixer. In the late 90s, “smashed potatoes” came in vogue as a less processed, more textured dish. “Basically, you give a potato a good kick in the pants and send it to the plate,” says Peter Hoffman, owner of the Savoy restaurant in Manhattan.
In November 2012, applicability for S6151-C9-MMO-010, Technical Manual for Model 6115 Potato Peeler was extended to CVN 78.
Describing them as looking like a yam and tasting like a chestnut, Christopher Columbus introduced sweet potatoes to Europe after his first voyage to the New World in 1492. By the 16th century, sweet potatoes were widely cultivated in Southern Europe and were an imported delicacy in London, where King Henry Vlll enjoyed them as a sliced and candied sweetmeat.
The Potato Paradox is a well-known mathematical calculation with a counterintuitive result. If you take 100 lbs of Martian potatoes that are 99% water by weight and let them dehydrate until they are 98% water, how much do they weigh? Answer: 50 lbs.
The USDA classifies frozen french fries as “fresh vegetables.” The department has stated that this classification applies only to rules of commerce, not nutrition, and that the USDA does not consider french fries equivalent to an apple in school lunches.
The record for the world’s tallest potato plant is 18 feet and 1 inch.
In August 2014, the now wildly popular Honey Butter Chip was introduced in South Korea. Haitai has been producing the potato chip 24-hours a day and is still unable to keep up with demand. In one online forum, a seller listed an empty bag of chips that could be purchased in order to “experience the butter smell.” It was bought within a few days.
The extra air in an unopened potato chip bag is called “slack fill” and is used in the industry to cushion the delicate chips during shipping. The air in the bag is actually nitrogen, which prevents the chips from spoiling in the bag.
The old English word “æpple” referred to fruit of any kind. Thus, the potato was referred to as the “earth apple.” “Earth apple” is also a translation for potato in a number of other languages, including French (“pomme de terre”), Dutch, Hebrew, Persian, and Swiss.
Long before there was baby formula, mashed potatoes (sometimes cooked into a thick potato soup) played a crucial role as an infant feeding supplement in Switzerland. When the potato was introduced to Törbel in the 1750s, the mortality rate steeply declined while the birth rate increased, due to better nourished mothers and babies.
The 2015 finalists for the Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” contest are Southern Biscuits and Gravy, Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro, New York Reuben, and Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries. These flavors will be available for a limited time, but the one that gets the most votes will continue to be distributed nationwide.
Fredric Baur, inventor of the Pringles can, was so proud of his innovation that he requested that his ashes be interred in one. His children honored his wish, stopping at a Walgreens to pick up a can on the way to the funeral home. There was debate about which flavor to use, but Baur’s eldest son decisively stated: “Look, we need to use the original.”
The first time Ted St. Martin played basketball, it was on a makeshift hoop with a potato sack for a net. He now holds the Guinness Book World Record for most consecutive free throws: 5,221 in 7 hours and 20 minutes. St. Martin says that his secret to success is the discipline and focus that he learned as a dairy farmer.
Considered by farmers as strange and poisonous, the French Parliament declared the cultivation of potatoes illegal in 1748. It took 24 years for the Paris Faculty of Medicine to finally declare potatoes edible in 1772, but the potato did not become popular until after the siege of the Paris Commune in 1795, when potatoes were cultivated to stave off starvation.
On March 6, 1960, Admiral Rickover publicly questioned the wisdom of closing Idaho schools for the annual potato harvest. “l merely pose the question: Is potato picking as important as training the minds of our children?” he said. In response, the president of the Idaho Education Association acknowledged Rickover’s success in the field of nuclear submarines, but sharply disagreed with his viewpoint on education and potatoes.
In a study released in 2010 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, it was determined that the Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALY) lost due to obesity was equal to or greater than those lost due to smoking. Thus, some researchers state that “french fries are the new cigarettes.”
Disbelieving the appearance of the ghost of Jacob Marley, Ebenezer Scrooge initially blames the purported hallucination on food poisoning, possibly from an “undigested bit of beef” or “a bit of underdone potato.” He states: “There’s more gravy than of grave about you, whoever you are!”
The potato museum located in Washington DC, contains over 2,000 potato artifacts. Visitors can see antique harvesting tools, an 1893 potato flask (a mold for making potato ice cream), potato ties, and a 1903 Parker Brothers game “The Potato Game.”
On average, each global citizen eats 72 lbs of potatoes each year. Australians, clearly potato lovers, eat a whopping 132 lbs per person a year.
One hectare of potato can yield two to four times the food quantity of grain crops and produce more food per unit of water than any other major crop.
George Washington Carver, well known for his work with peanuts, also dabbled with sweet potatoes. In his 1922 sweet potato bulletin he listed 125 different uses, including dyes, pastes, and candies, for the sweet spud.
Referring to low resolution videos on the web as “potato quality” originates from a popular YouTube comment “recorded with a potato.” The meme is also repurposed using other objects unfit for recording high quality video, such as “record with a calculator” or “recorded with a toaster” but the original joke was “recorded with a potato,” which first appeared around 2008.
Mashed potatoes are the “MVP of the food staging world.” In ads, billboards, and commercials, dyed mashed potatoes often stand in for ice cream, which would melt quickly under hot studio lights. Mashed potatoes are also injected into roasts or baked into pies for structural integrity in front of the camera. (h/t K. T. Hartman)
As an experiment, the makers of BatteryBox attempted to charge a Samsung S3 using potatoes. Using 110 lbs of potatoes and 36 feet of copper and zinc metal tubing, the team was able to charge the battery five percent over five hours.
During the Spanish Civil War, Captain David “Potato” Jones earned his nickname by running the Franco blockade to deliver 1,000 tons of potatoes to Spanish Loyalists. It was later revealed that Potato Jones was also running guns and refugees, in addition to potatoes.
The potassium in bananas makes them measurably radioactive. A banana equivalent dose (BED) is often used to convey relative levels of radiation exposure. A chest CT scan delivers about 70,000 BED, while the Three Mile Island accident exposed residents 10 mi away to about 700 BED. Among common foods, bananas are the most radioactive, containing about 3,520 picocuries of radiation per kilogram. Potatoes are a close second with 3,400 pCi/kg.
During WWII, the “Dig for Victory” campaign encouraged British citizens to grow their own food in order to free up space on merchant convoys for war materials. The “Potato Pete” character was created to promote the consumption of potatoes. In addition to posters and recipe books, the government produced a Potato Pete theme song, sung by Betty Driver.
At its peak it the 1960s, Spudnuts Donuts was selling 400,000 potato donuts (donuts made from sweetened mashed potatoes) daily and had about 350 stores nationwide, plus a franchise in Japan. The company was acquired by Dakota Bake N Serve Inc., which went under amidst fraud convictions. Today, there are about 30 independent stores remaining, including two in Ohio.
In response to Lay’s Do Us a Flavor campaign, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette op ed columnist Gary Rotstein offered up some ideas for potato chip flavors that would be evocative of some nostalgic Pittsburgh aromas: Mon River Carp Chips, Stink Bug Corpus Delicti, Steel Mill Sulfur Snacks, Nine Mile Run Run-offs, and Pothole Poppers.
Potato farmer-turned-entrepreneur Feng Xiaoyan has partnered with the Chinese government to change the public’s attitude about the potato through song. Once regarded as a poor man’s food only fit for famines and hog feed, potatoes are glorified in a number of songs that Feng has commissioned, including “Potato, Potato, Potato,” “Potato, Our Little Round Potato,” and “Potatoes Are Fortunate Eggs.”
Today, August 19th, is National Potato Day.
Chicago-based restaurant R.J. Grunts was one of the first to offer potato skins on the menu. The inspiration for the appetizer came from sailors, who would eat the vitamin-rich potato skins at sea to ward off illness.
It takes about 10,000 pounds of potatoes to make 2,500 pounds of potato chips.
The industry group Alliance for Food and Farming, which received an $180,000 grant in 2010 from the California Department of Food and Agriculture for a project entitled “Correcting Misconceptions About Pesticide Residues,” calculates that a grown man can eat 12,000 servings of potatoes in a day before seeing any negative effects from pesticides.
By USDA standards, a “large” potato weighs between 10 and 16 ounces. Thus, a NIMITZ class aircraft carrier weighs about as much as 288 million large potatoes.
Potatoes have gone by many historical nicknames throughout the world. In Ireland, a potato is often called a “Murphy.” In the 1840s, when the Russian government forced peasants to grow potatoes, religious dissenters called them “the devil’s apples.” The nickname “spud” is thought to have originated in New Zealand.
Before rising to fame with South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone produced and starred in the film Cannibal! The Musical. The opening number includes the lyrics “The sky is blue and all the leaves are green / The sun’s as warm as a baked potato / I think I know precisely what I mean / When I say it’s a shpadoinkle day.”
In 2012, Jason Brown walked away from a $37 million NFL contract as a St. Louis Rams center to become a farmer. Brown learned to farm by watching YouTube videos and in 2014 donated 100,000 lbs. of sweet potatoes to local food pantries. In 2015, he plans to double his harvest to 200,000 lbs.
In August 2015, the USDA approved JR Simplot Company’s second generation Innate potato, a potato that has been genetically-modified to resist late blight (the infection that caused the Irish Potato Famine) and withstand colder temperatures. The potato must next be approved by the FDA and the EPA before it is fully greenlighted for commercial planting in 2017.
In an effort to remind the world that the “potato is still healthy,” the Idaho Potato Commission has been touring the country with “The World’s Largest Potato” on the back of a truck. The six ton sculpture of a giant potato is 72 feet long, 12 feet wide and 13 feet tall. The potato made a stop at Wholey’s in Pittsburgh’s Strip District on August 29, 2015.
Karl Eisner popularized the iconic Swiss Army Knife in the late 1800s. About 50 years later, Alfred Neweczeral invented the quintessential Swiss potato peeler: the Rex peeler, which has just six parts, costs about $1.50 and is manufactured by a small operation near Zurich that employs only 10 people. The Rex peeler has sold over 60 million times and was featured on a Swiss postage stamp in 2004.
When Mr. Potato Head was first introduced in 1952, the toy consisted only of plastic body parts with pushpins; consumers had to supply their own real potato. Spurred by complaints of rotting vegetables and new government safety regulations, Hasbro rolled out the hard plastic body in 1964. (h/t C.J. Jae)
From the 1940s to the 1960s, Polish propagandists blamed the invasion of Colorado potato beetles on U.S. planes engaging in entomological warfare. The Polish Air force, communist government, and even Socialist poets all joined together in the “Walka z stonką” (“The struggle against the beetle”). Maria Kownacka’s poem “Alarm” implored farmers to “protect the potatoes! and declared to the imperialists that “we will not let ourselves to be starved!
In 1901, Nikola Tesla converted 200 acres of potato farm on Long Island into the Wardenclyffe laboratory, where he built a 187 foot high transmitter for his wireless telegraphy plant. Due to financial troubles, the project went under and the laboratory fell into ruin. In 2012, Internet cartoonist Matt Inman (The Oatmeal) partnered with the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe group to crowdfund the $1.37 million purchase of the site in order to turn it into a museum.
Unlike most fruits and vegetables, potatoes are harvested once a year (usually around September). Most of the potatoes go into storage, where they are held at the ideal temperature and humidity to ensure year-round availability of potatoes until the next year’s harvest.
Kugel, a mainstay dish for the High Holy Days, traces its roots back to Chinese rice dumplings from the 12th century. In the mid-19th century, potatoes became the predominant type of kugel in impoverished shtetls of Eastern Europe, thus the Yiddish folk song: “Sunday potatoes, Monday potatoes, Tuesday and Wednesday potatoes, Thursday and Friday potatoes, but Shabbos, for a change, a potato kugel.”
Potatoes are grown on every continent, except Antarctica.
The world’s first long range guided ballistic missile, the German V-2 rocket, was fueled by potatoes. The fuel alcohol required for one V-2 launch required the distillation of about 30 tons of potatoes, which came at a high cost in a time when food in Germany was scarce.
The Plant Patent Act of 1930 sought to level the playing field between plant breeders and their mechanical and chemical inventor counterparts. However, the wording of the act excluded potatoes, which are propagated from tubers and not seeds. After a number of decisive Supreme Court rulings, the first novel potato cultivar was patented over 50 years later in September 1987.
In Ireland, a $1 million marketing campaign has been launched in response to declining retail sales of fresh potatoes, particularly among young shoppers who view potatoes as traditional, unexciting, and inconvenient. The campaign is targeted largely at females between 22 and 44 years old and is entitled “Potatoes — more than a bit on the side.”
The AEDC Ballistic Range S-3 is a single stage air gun owned by the U.S. Air Force that uses the same ballistics technology as a spud gun (i.e. compressed air in a pneumatic tube). The Range S-3 is nicknamed the “chicken gun” because it is used to fire dead chickens at aircraft canopies in accordance with ASTM F330: “Standard Test Method for Bird Impact Testing of Aerospace Transparent Enclosures.”
A recent report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that about half of the U.S.’s vegetable consumption consists of potatoes and tomatoes, mostly in the form of french fries and ketchup. In 2013, Americans ate 115.6 lbs. of potato per person, two-thirds of which were french fries, potato chips, or otherwise processed or frozen foods.
Per capita potato consumption in the U.S. is about 115 lbs. per year. In Belarus, each person eats about 440 lbs. of potatoes a year, which earned Belarusians the nickname bulbashi, or “potato people,” during the Soviet Union era.
In the 2011 novel The Martian by Andy Weir, a NASA astronaut is stranded on Mars and must use his technical skills, scientific skills, and potato-farming skills to survive. Matt Damon stars in the film adaptation of the book, which will be released in the U.S. on Oct. 2, 2015, which coincidentally is National Potato Day in Ireland.
The only English word that rhymes with potato is “tomato.”
Later this year, 2 Sisters Food Group is bringing a bio-refinery online in the U.K. that will produce steam and electric power using mashed potato waste as a feed stock. The factory is expected to produce 3,500 MWh of electricity and the equivalent of 5,000 MWh in steam per year.
After about 3 years of efforts, JetBlue has greenlighted a 24,000 square foot farm on top of its terminal at JFK airport. The farm includes 3,000 crates of blue potato plants, which the airline hopes to harvest and turn into Terra Blue chips to be served in-flight.
The R.D. Offut Company, which supplies potatoes to McDonalds, is piloting a high tech approach to reducing pesticide use: drones. The unmanned aircraft are used to check for pest infestations. “If you don’t see bugs, why would you spray for them?” says field technology manager Barry Bowers.
Christopher Columbus’ 1492 voyage kicked off the ‘”Columbian Exchange,” the widespread transfer of animals, plants, culture, human populations, technology, and ideas between the American and Afro- Eurasian hemispheres in the 15th and 16th centuries. Tomatoes and potatoes took another 300 years after introduction before gaining widespread acceptance in the cultures where they are now considered traditional Old World food staples.
In The Martian, Astronaut Mark Watney would’ve been better off growing sweet potatoes on Mars rather than regular potatoes, according to science writer Christopher Wanjek. Sweet potatoes provide more calories, have edible greens, and don’t produce poisonous solanine and thus can be eaten raw.
This year, the North Korean government distributed 1 ton of potatoes to each farm laborer, much to their chagrin. Potatoes are associated with malnutrition in the region and don’t pair well with Korean dishes like kimchi. Many families eagerly trade their potato surplus for much smaller amounts of seaweed or rice (about 22 lbs. of potatoes can be exchanged for 2.2 lbs. of rice).
Potatoes should be stored in well-ventilated areas because, similar to other vegetables and fruits, potatoes respire by “inhaling” oxygen and “exhaling” carbon dioxide (just like animals). Plants do produce oxygen, but this is a byproduct of photosynthesis, where carbon dioxide and water are converted to glucose: C02 + 1-120 CH20 + O2.
The Washington State Potato Commission and Oregon Potato Commission had a side wager on Oct. 17’s WSU vs. OSU game: for every point scored, 500 lbs. of potatoes would be donated by the commission in the losing state’s team to food banks in the winning state’s team. The final score was 52-31, which means Oregon will pony up 41,500 lbs. of potatoes to Washington.
During World War Il, the War Production Board shut down the production of potato chips, stating that they were “nonessential.” Manufacturers lobbied against this designation, arguing that chips were a valuable source of ready-to-eat vegetables, and eventually convinced the board to reverse its decision.
Three dinners in the Back to the Future movies depict technological advances in convenience foods over the course of 90 years. In 1955, dinner is meat loaf and mashed potatoes. In 1985, the meatloaf is the same, but is served with instant mashed potatoes (which were invented in the 1960s). On October 21, 2015, dinner is an instant dehydrated pizza from Pizza Hut (sadly still fictional).
Official Chinese media coverage of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the U.K. has been humorously rife with wrongful assumptions, misunderstandings about British culture, and outright propaganda. For instance, Xinhua News Agency characterized the British as potato lovers who can’t drink tea properly, claiming that they mistakenly ate the leaves as a delicacy when they were first introduced in the 17th century.
This week, McDonald’s began testing sweet potato fries in its Amarillo, Texas locations, which means sweet potato fries may reach menus nationwide sometime in the future.
Intolerance or allergies to nightshades can cause healthy maladies that are resolved by avoiding potatoes. According to Dr. Harry Morrow Brown, a study of children found that gross misbehavior, learning disabilities, and dyslexia disappeared when potatoes were avoided, only to recur after a few crisps were given as a treat.
According to the Russian Orthodox Church, “sin is that which harms human health,” which includes consuming potato chips, as well as various trans fats, GMOs, energy drinks, and alcoholic beverages of poor quality. Since banning the import of Western foods in 2014, the Russian government has destroyed over 738 tons of food, causing much public outcry.
Puerto Rico became a U.S. territory in 1898, which led to the first mention of “potato chips” in the New York Times in a Dec. 26, 1898 article entitled “What Puerto Ricans Eat.” Typical breakfasts among upper class families included “wine and rum,” “roast beef and potato chips,” and “sweet potatoes and aguacate (avocados).
In January 2005, Hasbro announced that Mr. Potato Head had turned to the dark side and that the Star Wars-themed “Darth Tater” would be available for sale for $7.99. In anticipation of Episode VII, Darth Tater has made a comeback and is again for sale, but this time for about $29.99.
In 1986, the ever-resourceful MacGyver is seen placing a potato in the tailpipe of his pursuers’ car, thus causing it to sputter and stall. In 2004, Mythbusters determined that, although blocking the exhaust would smother an engine, almost anything shoved into a tailpipe would be immediately ejected.
Though often considered beneficial to farmers, daylight savings time was actually championed first by Wall St, then by retailers and convenience stores, which saw increased sales during DST. In 1987, Daylight Savings Time Coalition Executive Director James Benfield used this point to sway two Idaho senators to vote in favor of extending DST by one month, arguing that more french fry sales at Hardee’s and McDonald’s meant more demand for Idaho potatoes.
Modern penicillin traces its origins to mold scraped from a grocery store cantaloupe by a lab technician (now known as “Moldy Mary”) during WWII. However, this was long pre-dated by potato penicillin, which naturally occurred in the traditional Incan dish tocosh (fermented potato pulp). Tocosh was used to treat gastric ulcers, altitude sickness, pneumonia, and the common cold.
November is Sweet Potato Awareness Month.
Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) restrictions aim to protect nations from imported pests and diseases; however, SPS restrictions are sometimes abused for protectionist ends. The U.S. potato industry, which exports about 20% of its dehydrated and frozen potatoes, strongly supports the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would place greater emphasis on “science-based” resolutions to SPS barriers.
Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, approximately 100 years after the first Thanksgiving feast, which consisted largely of meat without potatoes (they hadn’t been introduced to North America yet). Mashed potatoes and other traditional Thanksgiving dishes were popularized by Godey’s Lady’s Book Editor Sarah Josepha Hale, whose 13-year campaign of recipes and presidential lobbying successfully solidified Thanksgiving as an American tradition.
In 1917, Angellus Marshmallows launched a marketing and recipe campaign to capitalize on the newfangled mass production of marshmallows, which were previously handmade and labor intensive. This effort included one of the first recorded recipes for sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows (“candied yams”).
Turkey contains tryptophan, but not significantly more than other meats. The high carbohydrate foods that accompany turkey (such as mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole) play a larger role in post-feast drowsiness; carbohydrates release insulin, which makes tryptophan in the bloodstream more available to the brain.
The Teddy Bear was named for Theodore Roosevelt, who famously refused to shoot a wounded mother bear during a hunting expedition. After Roosevelt left office, toymakers attempted to popularize the Billy Possum, named for William Howard Taft, who less famously gorged on an authentic southern dish, possum and taters (an 18 lb. whole possum on a bed of sweet potatoes), while stumping in Atlanta. The Billy Possum didn’t catch on.
Prince Edward Island authorities have increased the reward from $100,000 to $400,000 for help locating the “food terrorist” who has been embedding nails, sewing needles, razor blades and other metal objects in potatoes since October 2014. Although no injuries have been reported, potato producers in the region have been forced to destroy inventory and spend approximately $5 million on metal detectors to protect consumers.
McDonald’s uses different potato varieties in its fries throughout the year, based on when they mature, how well they store, and how much chemical and water input they require to grow. They use Shepody potatoes from Aug. to Oct., Ranger Russets in Nov., Umatilla Russets from Dec. to Feb., and Russet Burbanks the rest of the year.
Beginning in the 1920s, trade unions began displacing traditional latkes with the more profitable and convenient Israeli donut (sufganiya). The tradition, after all, is about the oil, not the potatoes. Chanukah commemorates the miracle of a single flask of oil keeping the Holy Temple alight for 8 days. Also, birds were often slaughtered around this time to avoid feeding them over the winter, resulting in a surplus of animal fat.
The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor came so suddenly and unexpectedly that many of the U.S. ships’ anti-aircraft weapons were never used. Ships returned fire with machine guns, 16-inch rifles, and in two reported cases, potatoes. Veterans from the transport ship USS Argonne and the hospital ship USS Solace both recall potatoes being thrown at passing Japanese planes—”they were that close.” None of the 5″/38 guns were fired.
JR Simplot’s recently USDA-approved “Innate Potato” uses gene silencing to slow the browning process for cut potatoes. This means that soon, you’ll be able to buy fresh pre-cut potatoes from the produce aisle. McDonald’s states that it won’t source this GMO potato, but this is more PR than principle; McDonald’s buys its potatoes pre-cooked and frozen and wouldn’t benefit from bruise-resistant fresh potatoes.
Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested on Dec. 9, 2008 (a day before his birthday) for attempting to sell Obama’s U.S. Senate seat, among other crimes. When asked five years later what he was up to in prison, Blagojevich’s defense attorney told the press: “They’ve got him working in the kitchen peeling potatoes just like I did in the Army!”
Fake plastic snow made for movie sets is troublesome because it is impossible to completely clean up and will not biodegrade. This is why German scientists developed fake snow made from potato starch for use in decorating, theatre, and television. Five tons of potato snow were used in the sci-fi TV series Ice Planet.
Since Nov. 27, firefighters in Farmville, N.C. have been working 24/7 to extinguish a smoldering silo filled with dehydrated sweet potatoes. Over 26 million gallons of water have been used to fight the fire, but as of Dec. 16, it continues to burn. According to area man Jamar Wilkes, “it just smelled like burnt pie. The silo is owned by Natural Blend Vegetable Dehydration, which supplies dehydrated sweet potatoes for use in pet food.
Potatoes gained popularity during the Industrial Revolution, when the population in England and Wales doubled to almost 18 million. Workers labored for 12 to 16 hours a day and only the wealthy had ovens in their homes, making fast street foods like hot potatoes and fish and chips necessities.
The “chip butty” is a sandwich often served in British pubs that consists of french-fried potatoes and sauce (tomato sauce or brown sauce) on a roll. “Butty” is a contraction of “bread and butter.” The chip butty should not to be confused with a potato chip sandwich, which is called a “crisp sandwich.”
The La Bonnotte is the most expensive potato in the world, selling for around $45/lb but occasionally reaching prices as high as $322/lb. Only 100 tons of the rare, delicate potato are grown each year on Noirmourtier, an island off the coast of France. The algae and seaweed in the soil give the potato a salty, earthy flavor.
Peeling mountains of potatoes or “spud bashing,” is a familiar cultural trope depicting menial labor assigned as punishment in the U.S. military (“KP duty”). Today, much of the food preparation in the Army, including potato peeling, is done by third-party contractors or machines. In the Navy, most of the potatoes are dehydrated.
Sports media outlets highlighted the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl as a must-watch for its “creepy mascot shenanigans” courtesy of Spuddy Buddy, a non-blinking, ever-smiling, giant potato man. Spuddy Buddy is known for his dancing, his dedicated umbrella staffer, and his even creepier CGI iteration. This year, the Zips beat the Aggies 23-21 in the lightly attended bowl game.
In 1903, a former rancher named Mary Anderson patented a wood-and-rubber, hand-operated windshield wiper. Before that, drivers cleaned off rain using anything available, including potatoes and plugs of tobacco. (h/t Matt Ingold)
According to the Washington State Potato Commission, you can wash potatoes in a dishwasher (without detergent) in lieu of scrubbing them.
Over a million spectators attend the New Year’s Eve Times Square Ball Drop in New York each year. Meanwhile, in downtown Boise, about 40,000 gathered in 2015 to watch the Idaho Potato Drop, which featured a 17-foot-long potato lowered by a crane, fireworks and appearances by Spuddy Buddy and the Big Idaho Potato Truck (a 28-foot-long russet on wheels).
The origins of the game “hot potato” are unclear, but they may hearken back to a 19th century parlor game, wherein a lighted candle is passed from person-to-person while reciting the rhyme: “Jack’s alive, and likely to live / If he dies in your hand, you’ve a forfeit to give.”
In the aftermath of a nuclear attack, experts caution against eating food from outside the shelter within the first eight days, as it may still be contaminated; however, root plants, like potatoes and carrots, can safely be eaten.
After the bombing of the Hiroshima, inflammable wreckage fell on cook-stoves and live wires and caused a citywide fire. Survivors report finding and eating pumpkins roasted on the vine and potatoes baked beneath the earth.
In 2005, the California Attorney General sued McDonald’s, Frito-Lay and other companies for failing to post warnings about the high levels of acrylamide (a carcinogen) in their potato chips and french fries. The companies settled in 2008, all agreeing to reduce the level of acrylamide in their products, provide cancer warning signage or labels, or pull products from the shelf.
In 2008, Charles Spense and Massimiliano Zampini were awarded the Ig Nobel Prize in nutrition for their study “The Role of Auditory Cues in Modulating the Perceived Crispness and Staleness of Potato Chips.” Results: amplyifying higher frequency munching sounds (2 kHz-20 kHz) makes the chips taste fresher and crisper.
In January 2010, a Washington D.C. area woman discovered the image of the Virgin Mary on a Lay’s potato chip. She told news sources that she intended to sell it on eBay. Five years earlier in 2005, a St. Petersburg couple found the image of Jesus in a bag of Lay’s potato chips. They were Sour Cream ‘n’ Onion flavored.
The first reported instance of Russian organized crime in the U.S. occurred in the 1970s, when a group from the Odessa region began selling purported bags of rubies or gold to other immigrants, who later discovered that the bags contained only potatoes. The criminals became known as the “Potato Bag Gang.”
In 2009, a global team of researchers completed a three-year project to map the genetic code of the potato. The potato has 12 chromosomes with 840 million base pairs, about a quarter of the size of the human genome.
Renowned Irish photographer Kevin Abosch typically commissions potraits for about £200,000. His portfolio includes portraits of Steven Spielberg, Michael Palin, Sheryl Sandberg, and Malala Yousafzai. Recently, he sold a photograph of an organic potato on a black background to an unnamed businessman for £750,000.
That potatoes should be planted in the dark of the moon” is a popular fallacy. As the superstition goes, planting potatoes during the part of the month when the moon does not shine prevents them from growing “all to top” without any tubers.
McDonald’s french fries are saltier in Canada than in the U.S. Fries in Canada have 35% more sodium and 1g more fat than the U.S. counterpart. McDonald’s has stated that it continually looks for ways to reduce sodium while “maintaining the great taste that millions of Canadians know and love.”
According to myths from several ancient cultures, illnesses and ailments, such as rheumatism, can be cured simply by carrying around a potato in one’s pocket or around one’s neck. The catch: the potato has to be stolen.