Here is some potato trivia and fun potato facts that point out the importance of the potato as a world food crop.
Some Potato Trivia History
Potatoes were first cultivated nearly 7,000 years ago in Peru.
The potato took a long journey to reach North America. The Spaniards took it back to Spain in the 16th century; from there it made its way to Italy and northern Europe, then to Bermuda and the Virginia colonies of North America.
The first established potato fields in North America were in 1719, most likely near Londonderry (Derry), New Hampshire.
The 'Idaho' potato or 'Russet Burbank' potato was developed by Luther Burbank (1849-1926) in 1871.
The Yukon Gold potato variety honors the Alaskan Klondike gold rush of1897-1898. Potatoes were practically 'worth their weight in gold.' Potatoes were so valued for their vitamin C content that miners traded gold for potatoes.
Varieties of Potatoes
Most Americans think of potatoes as having a limited number of varieties. Potatoes actually come in some 5,000 types with colors that range from creamy-white to bright yellow, red, blue, and deep purple. Around th e world, potatoes are grown in countless shapes, textures, and sizes.
Peru is sending thousands of potato seeds to the Doomsday Vault near the Arctic Circle. They are contributing to a gene bank for food crops that was set up in case of a global disaster.
Potato Trivia Around the World
Marie Antoinette made potatoes a fashion statement when she paraded through the French countryside wearing potato blossoms in her hair. They soon became the rage in Parisian court circles.
Louis XVI of France wore potato flowers in his buttonhole to encourage the growing of potatoes.
Antoine-Auguste Parmentier was a 18th century agronomist who convinced the common French people to accept the potato as a safe food. He used reverse psychology by posting guards around potato fields during the day to prevent people from stealing them. He left them unguarded at night. So, every night, the thieves would sneak into the fields and leave with sacks of these precious potatoes!
Potatoes were not part of the first Thanksgiving. Irish immigrants had not yet brought them to North America.
The Irish referred to potatoes as "spuds," the name that came from a type of spade used for digging potatoes.
The word " pothole " came from the Irish. After boiling a pot of potatoes, the chef removed the pot from the fire and placed it on the ground to cool. In the process of mashing the potatoes, the pot would be pushed into the ground. In time, a deep hole-a pothole-would develop!
When Sir Walter Raleigh first brought potatoes to the court of Queen Elizabeth I, there seems to have been a lack of communication. The cooks tossed out the tubers, and boiled the stems and leaves. Everyone who partook became deathly ill and potatoes were banned from the Royal kitchen for a long time.
Mr. Potato Head
Mr. Potato Head was was born in Rhode Island in 1952 and was the first toy to be advertised on television.
Mr. Potato Head was married in 1953 to Mrs. Potato Head. Baby Potato Head was born in 1955.
Mr. Potato Head has acted in two major films – Toy Story 1 and Toy Story 2.
Sweet Potato Trivia
The sweet potato belongs in the same family as the morning glory ( Ipomoea batatas ) and is not a relative of the potato.
The Spanish who brought sweet potatoes back from the West Indies called them by their native name batatas.
When white potatoes (papas) were introduced into Spain some years later, some people thought they were related. Soon papas were renamed patatas, but both were translated into the English as potato.
Giant Potato Trivia
According to the Guinness Book of Records, a 30-pound potato was grown in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 1993.
In 1974, an Englishman named Eric Jenkins grew 370 pounds of potatoes from one plant.
In December, 2008 a farmer from Lebanon discovered a massive potato in his field. He hopes to enter the potato in the Guinness Book of World Records. The super-sized potato is said to have weighed nearly 25 pounds. Some reports say it was not a 'real' potato but a sweet potato.
Potato Chip and French Fried Potato Trivia
Potato chips were first made by Chef George Crum in Saratoga Springs, NY on August 24, 1853.
The world's largest potato chip measures 23" x 14.5".
French Fries were introduced to America when Thomas Jefferson served them at a White House dinner.
About 1/4 of the potatoes consumed in the U.S.are French Fries.
A Bit More Potato Trivia
The potato was the first vegetable grown in space.
A medium potato (about 5 ounces) has only about 110 calories.
Potatoes are 80 percent water.
Instant mashed potatoes (dehydrated potatoes) were introduced commercially in 1955.
How did they use to make snowflakes in movies? Lots and lots of instant mashed-potato flakes.
Potato as Medicine (Folk lore---not endorsed by the medical profession!)
~ Treat facial blemishes by washing your face daily with cool potato juice.
~ Treat frostbite or sunburn by applying raw grated potato to the affected area.
~ Treat a toothache by carrying a potato in your pocket.
~ Treat a sore throat by placing a slice of baked potato in a stocking and applying to the throat.
~ Treat aches and pains by rubbing boiled potato water (cooled) to the affected area.