National Mashed Potato Day, on October 18, is one holiday that spud lovers in the United States look forward to every year. It’s an opportunity for them to indulge in even more of their favorite dishes. The origins of this holiday are not entirely clear. Different sources also state it as happening on different dates. Some people, however, believe the Idaho Potato Commission was responsible for founding this day in celebration of mashed potatoes. Whatever the case, the humble yet amazing potato deserves a day to honor its existence. Cultures all over the globe use potatoes as a staple food or a popular accompaniment for other dishes.
History of National Mashed Potato Day
Human beings have been growing potatoes from as far back as 8000 B.C. The earliest archaeologically verified potato tuber remains were found in central Peru at the coastal site of Ancón, dating to 2500 B.C. Potatoes also appear in the Peruvian archaeological records as a design influence of ceramic pottery. The ancient populations often made potatoes in the shape of vessels. Sir Walter Raleigh is credited with introducing potatoes to Ireland in 1589. After this, it took almost four decades for the tuber to spread to the rest of Europe. In the 1620s, the Governor of the Bahamas sent a gift package containing potatoes to the governor of the colony of Virginia. That’s how potatoes made their way to the colonies.
The humble spuds faced a hard time spreading throughout the northern colonies. It was only until Thomas Jefferson had them served to guests at the White House in 1802 that potatoes became widely accepted. Thereafter, the potato steadily gained in popularity, even more so due to a steady stream of Irish immigrants to the United States. Throughout Europe, the potato became the most important new food in the 19th century because of three major advantages. It had a lower rate of spoilage, it was bulky so it easily satisfied hunger, and it was cheap. The crop slowly spread across Europe and turned into a major staple by mid-century, especially in Ireland.
The tuber continues to gain favor among the American population. Since 2000, more than one million acres of potatoes have been planted and harvested each year, with Idaho being one of the top potato-producing potato states.
National Mashed Potato Day timeline
The Inca people of Peru become the first to cultivate potatoes.
Spanish conquistadors invade Peru and bring potatoes back to Europe.
The Canadian Potato Research Center in Fredericton, New Brunswick is established.
The University of Wisconsin partners with N.A.S.A. to make the potato the first vegetable grown in space.
National Mashed Potato Day FAQs
What is the world’s largest potato ever grown?
“The Guinness Book of World Records” states that the largest potato weighed seven pounds one ounce, grown by J. East (1953) and J. Busby (1982) of the U.K.
How many potatoes do Americans eat?
The average American eats approximately 124 pounds of potatoes per year.
Which five American states produce the most potatoes?
Idaho is the largest potato-producing state in the U.S. The second, third, fourth, and fifth potato producers in the U.S. are Washington, Wisconsin, Oregon, and North Dakota respectively.
National Mashed Potato Day Activities
Eat some potatoes
There are numerous ways to prepare mashed potatoes, either by themselves or as part of a larger meal. Host a family hangout where everyone brings their version, then dig in!
Praise the potato
Compose a song or poem about potatoes. Make it extra fun by getting your family to do the same then have some time to present your creations.
Letting your friends miss out on this day would be a mistake. Tell them about it so that they can indulge in tasty mashed potato dishes.
5 Interesting Facts About Potatoes
So many spuds
There are around 4,000 different types of potatoes.
Potatoes belong to the same family (Solanaceae) as tobacco and deadly nightshade.
Long life tubers
Commercially, potatoes can be stored for up to a year by keeping them at 39°F.
Available all over the globe
Today potatoes are grown in about 125 countries worldwide.
The potato is made up of about 80% water and 20% solids.
Why We Love National Mashed Potato Day
We eat delicious food
Potatoes go well with numerous other foods. On National Mashed Potato Day, we take our palates on a trip with different recipes.
The potato is such an interesting tuber. Apart from its culinary variety, we get to learn about its history and other uses on this day.
We spend time with family
National Mashed Potato Day gives us a chance to bond with our families over delectable potato meals. Anything that brings the family together is a plus in our books.
National Mashed Potato Day dates