Potato Fun Facts

The potato is a remarkable vegetable with an incredible history. Check out these fun facts about one of the world’s most invaluable foods.

Potato Fun Fact #1

While ambassador to France, Benjamin Franklin attended a banquet where the menu included only potatoes, prepared in 20 different ways. Thomas Jefferson gets the credit for introducing french fries to America when he served them at a White House dinner.

Potato Fun Fact #2

The Irish are perhaps best known for their love of potatoes. At one time, Ireland was so dependent upon potatoes that when the potato crops were destroyed by blight in 1845 and 1846, over one million people died and another million left Ireland to find food.

Potato Fun Fact #3

According to legend, General Washington’s cook kept the troops satisfied during the cold winter at Valley Forge with a hearty soup, Philadelphia Pepper Pot. The ingredients: tripe fatback, pepper and, of course, potatoes.

Potato Fun Fact #4

In Germany, there is a monument to the potato with the inscription: “To God and Francis Drake, who brought to Europe for the everlasting benefit of the poor – the Potato.”

Potato Fun Fact #5

Folklore abounds about the potato. A peeled potato in the pocket was assumed to cure a toothache and a dried potato worn around the neck would help rheumatism.

Potato Fun Fact #6

In the late 17th century, Germany’s King Federik William decided potatoes could solve a current food shortage problem, so he ordered the peasants to plant potatoes or have their noses cut off!

Potato Fun Fact #7

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth I had a chef who lost his job over potatoes. He mistakenly served the leaves rather than the tubers.

Potato Fun Fact #8

Sir Walter Raleigh was given 40,000 acres of land in Ireland by Queen Elizabeth to grow potatoes and tobacco. That’s how the Irish were introduced to potatoes, who then made them so famous that, even today, potatoes are often referred to as Irish potatoes.

Potato Fun Fact #9

Potatoes first became fashionable when Marie Antoinette 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.

Potato Fun Fact #10

People in Shakespeare’s time viewed the potato as an aphrodisiac and labeled them “Apples of Love.”

Potato Fun Fact #11

In parts of Europe and America, it was thought that warts could be cured by rubbing them with a raw potato.

Potato Fun Fact #12

Before the great potato famine, Irish families ate an average of ten pounds of potatoes per day. During the famine, over a million people in Ireland either starved to death or died of diseases among those weakened by lack of food.

Potato Fun Fact #13

The potato is known to produce more food per unit area of land planted than any other major-planted crop.

Potato Fun Fact #14

Today, the potato is grown throughout the world. North Dakota produces over 2.2 billion pounds of potatoes annually, while Minnesota is not far behind at 1.9 billion pounds! The states of Idaho and Washington produce nearly half of the U.S. potato crop. The Red River Valley area of North Dakota and Minnesota is generally considered the third largest potato growing region in the U.S.

Potato Fun Fact #15

Vincent Van Gogh painted four still-life canvases devoted entirely to the potato.

Potato Fun Fact #16

Gold Rush miners prized the potato, high in vitamin C, because it prevented scurvy. Men traded gold for the precious potato, ounce for ounce. At today’s average gold price, a medium potato would cost a fortune.

Potato Fun Fact #17

Origins of the word “spud” can be traced to the instrument used to dig potatoes from the ground – the spade!

Potato Fun Fact #18

Potatoes are the world’s 4th food staple after wheat, corn and rice.

Potato Fun Fact #19

The Mr. Potato Head doll was born in 1952 and was introduced to Mrs. Potato Head in 1953. According to Playskool, Inc., the two honeymooned in Boise, Idaho, and have 12 children. In 1987, Mr. Potato Head gave up his pipe to set a good example for children.

Potato Fun Fact #20

It takes 10,000 pounds of potatoes to make 2,500 pounds of potato chips.

Potato Fun Fact #21

The average American eats more than 4 pounds of potato chips each year.

Potato Fun Fact #22

The average thin cut potato chip is between .04 and .08 of an inch thick.

Potato Fun Fact #23

In 1952, a chipper tossed several bags of potato chips over Niagara Falls. The bags were recovered unharmed and promptly eaten by spectators.

Potato Fun Fact #24

During the 18th century, potatoes were served as a dessert, hot and salted, in a napkin.

Potato Fun Fact #25

Potatoes are definitely America’s favorite vegetable. Did you know that every year we consume about 110 pounds of potatoes per person? Europeans have us beat, though. They consume twice as many spuds as American potato lovers!

Potato Fun Fact #26

The potato originated in the Andes of Bolivia and Peru. It was there, in 1537, that the Spanish conquistadors discovered the potato. From there it traveled to Europe, then to the United States. Peru’s Inca Indians first cultivated the potato in about 200 B.C. This vegetable had many uses to the Incas. Raw slices were placed on broken bones, carried to prevent rheumatism, and eaten with other foods to prevent indigestion. The ancient Inca Indians valued the potato not only as food, but as a measure of time. Units of time were correlated to how long it took a potato to cook.

Potato Fun Fact #27

The Potato Museum located in Washington D.C. contains more than 2,000 potato artifacts, including antique harvesting tools, an 1893 potato flask (a mold for making ice cream potatoes), potato ties and a 1903 Parker Brothers game called “The Potato Race.”

Potato Fun Fact #28

The Potato Museum located in Washington D.C. contains more than 2,000 potato artifacts, including antique harvesting tools, an 1893 potato flask (a mold for making ice cream potatoes), potato ties and a 1903 Parker Brothers game called “The Potato Race.”

Potato Fun Fact #29

The greatest number of barrels of potatoes picked in the U.S. in a 9 and ½ hour day is 235 by Walter Sirois (B. 1917) of Caribou, Maine, on September 30, 1950.

Potato Fun Fact #30

The greatest amount of potatoes peeled by five people (to an institutional cookery standard) with standard kitchen knives in 45 minutes is 266.5 kg or 587 lbs, 8 oz. by J. Mills, M. McDonald, P. Jennings, E. Dardiner and V. McNulty at Bourke Street Hall, Melbourne, Vic, Australia, on March 17, 1981.

Potato Fun Fact #31

The fastest potato eating on record is 3 pounds of potatoes consumed in 1 minute 22 seconds by Peter Dowdeswell of England in 1978.