They’re the first thing most people think of when they think “Idaho”. And usually, they’re the only thing people think of. Potatoes aren’t just the most famous product of Idaho, but practically the only thing the state is known for. Crazy, when you consider the amazing variety of sights and experiences available here. It is, I suppose, a testament to the marketing prowess of Idaho’s potato manufacturers.
The eastern city of Blackfoot is the unofficial capital of Idaho’s potato industry, home to the bulk of production as well as the Idaho Potato Museum, which we visited with high hopes. How could a potato museum in Idaho be anything but amazing? But the tiny rooms and paltry exhibits failed to impress. One of the most feted items is The World’s Biggest Potato Chip. Pfah! The thing isn’t even a potato chip, but a crisp! A crisp, I tell you! It’s not even that big, and it’s cracked. And please don’t get me started on the museum’s heralded “Free Taters for Out-of-Staters” gimmick. Turns out that the free “taters” are just a carton of dehydrated hash browns. And they’re not even “free”, since you have to pay entrance to the museum to get them.
A better potato-centric experience came a couple days later, when we drove past a crew working in a field. They were taking potatoes out of the ground, cleaning them and then then loading them into a truck. These weren’t the perfectly oval-shaped type you can buy at the supermarket, but ugly mutants up to a foot long. Most of Idaho’s potatoes go to industries and fast-food chains like McDonald’s, where beauty isn’t a requirement. The guys found it amusing how interested we were in their work, and let us take a few giant specimens home with us.
So that’s it: our potato post. Out of 91 days in Idaho, we spent a total of about two hours thinking about them. I don’t care that the license plates brag about their “Famous Potatoes”… the state has a lot more to offer.