The Potato – Facts and trivia of the popular crop

The potato has been a staple in my cultures and has had a huge impact on many societies economies. There are more than 2000 varieties of the potato and many different ways to raise this popular crop.

  • Potatoes are grown in every US State and Canadian Province. They are also grown in over 125 countries around the world.
  • The Indians in Peru were the first people to cultivate the potato over 4000 years ago and the Potato was first imported by Europeans on Spanish ships returning from Peru.
  • Potatoes first became popular when Marie Antoinette wore a crown of potato flowers in France
  • In the late 1700’s Frederick the Great planted potatoes in his Pleasure Garden in Berlin. He admired the beauty of the potato flowers.
  • King Frederick the Great promoted the eating of potatoes because of its high nutritional value.
  • The war between Frederick the Great and Maria Theresa forced soldiers to steal the enemy’s potatoes. The war was named “The Potato War” of 1770. There was not much more food to eat due to crop failure so when the potatoes ran out, the war was over.
  • In 1845 and 1846 the potato crop in Ireland was devastated by fungus. The potato had become a major food in Ireland and the “Irish Potato Famine” cased many Irish to immigrate. Between 1847 and 1851 the population of Ireland decreased by nearly two million.
  • The potato arrived in North America when Captain Nathaniel Butler, Governor of Bermuda sent a cargo of potatoes to Francis Wyatt, governor of Virginia in 1621.
  • Henry Spalding first planted potatoes in Idaho in 1837
  • In October 1995, the potato became the first vegetable to be grown in space. NASA and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, created the technology with the goal of feeding astronauts on long space voyages. Their hope was if the experiment worked they would eventually use the potato to feed future space colonies.
  • Apples should never be stored near potatoes. They give off ethylene gas, which causes potatoes to sprout.
  • You can clean a oil painting with a raw potato
  • Mr. Potato Head was the first toy to be advertised on TV
  • A potato is about 80% water and 20% solid.
  • “French Fries” were introduced to America when Thomas Jefferson served them at a Whitehouse dinner, which created quite a stir. Little did Jefferson know what an impact the French Fry would have in America.
  • The largest potato grown was 18 pounds and 4 ounces according to the Guinness Book of World Records. It was grown in England in 1795
  • 2008 is the “International year of the Potato”

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2 responses to “The Potato – Facts and trivia of the popular crop”

  1. jean-Pierre Courel

    Hi Denise,
    Nice article.
    One thing I remember from school, our teacher explain us, that when the potatoes came to France, the people, who did not eat much vegetables they called ‘ roots’ was plus for the animals and to make them to eat potatoes, the king made a big plantation of them with soldiers all around telling them to look on the other side when people came at night to steal the potatoes. In a way they were starving, but if they steal the king, that was a good action! And finally they eat at there hungriness.

    Excuse my explanation in English is awful :o((
    I hope you understand what I mean.

  2. admin

    The potato being from the nightshade family was accepted slower than many vegetables. Some say it has evil properties. The tomato is also a nighshade family plant and some consider it to be poisonous.

    Vegetable trivia is an interesting topic, Denise

    PS your English is fine. It is much better than my French!

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