We love potatoes so much, and you bet we are ready for it this National Tater Day on March 31. Bake ’em, boil ’em, fry ’em, mash ’em … they will always taste heavenly. The versatility potatoes lend means that they are great for both salty and sweet cuisines, either elevating the taste of a dish or complimenting the accompanying flavors. This tubular vegetable also holds the credit of solving food shortages, both in the old ages and the new. But at the same time, the vegetable has had its fair share of bad rep too. During a particularly bad food shortage, people in Germany refused to eat potatoes, which their king had made available in abundance. Germans at that time deemed it a ‘lowly’ food not deserving of their gastronomic cravings.
History of National Tater Day
The much-adored tater evolved from the nightingale plant almost 350 million years ago. But its earliest recorded instance in history is much later than that. Potatoes were first cultivated as food in the Peruvian Andes. Since potatoes grew best in higher altitude conditions, the crops were mostly planted atop a mountain valley, near Lake Titicaca. As centuries passed by, potatoes grew in popularity and trade due to their low-maintenance features and high nutritional values.
It was due to the tubular vegetable’s low-maintenance quality that they were being planted in larger and larger acres of land. This meant more food for people in the long run, and this is also the reason why potatoes were used by rulers and lords to solve food shortages amongst the masses. One interesting example is Prussia in the 1700s. The king, Frederick the Great, decreed potatoes to be given to the masses, especially the poor, as protection against famine. However, many refused the food as they considered taters to be disgusting. Seeing this, the king came up with a strategy and ordered the potato fields to be cordoned off and labeled as ‘food for the royals.’ But soon after, people ‘stole’ the potatoes for eating. The king’s plan had worked and the masses were fed.
More recently in tater history, people have been celebrating National Tater Day since 1843. Traders would come and exchange goods, particularly potato slips that allowed them to buy and grow the plant. This is the oldest trade convention ever known and celebrated. While it may have had its fair share of ups and downs, the tater is loved and enjoyed by many today.
National Tater Day timeline
The Incas in Southern Peru discover potatoes as an edible food source.
The first batch of potatoes arrives in North America as a present to Virginia’s governor.
Potato famine renders many potato crops useless, as a result of which many in Europe starve and die.
Ray Kroc opens the first McDonald’s branch in Illinois, selling the first McDonald’s fries in the world.
National Tater Day FAQs
Apart from tater trade, what else happened at the 1843 trading convention?
Other fruits and vegetables were also traded at the convention. There were games and food stalls as well. Interestingly, beauty pageants for boys and girls, aged five to 12 years, were also held.
Can I grow taters bought from my grocery?
It is best to grow potatoes using potato seeds bought from the local nursery store. Grocery potatoes will have gone through a rigorous cleaning process and, due to this, many potatoes lose their ability to sprout. Therefore, for healthy and safe potatoes, opt for seeds from the local nursery store.
How do I store taters?
Taters can be stored in a well-ventilated area in your pantry away from moisture. You shouldn’t wash your taters until you are ready to eat them as any amount of moisture can cause them to get spoiled easily.
National Tater Day Activities
Dig into some delicious sweet potatoes
National Tater Day originally celebrated sweet potatoes, and it was this specific variety that the 1843 trading convention focused on. However, over the years, the word ‘tater,’ first only used for sweet potatoes, has expanded to include and celebrate all types of spuds. But going back to the roots, sweet potatoes should be given their due attention and fanfare because it is thanks to them that we can celebrate all types of taters today.
Try new recipes
When we say that there are a ton of scrumptious potato recipes out there, we mean it. This versatile vegetable has a special place in many cultures of the world, so you will never get bored with trying new things every single time. Grill it, caramelize it, add it to soup — the sky's the limit.
Got some extra taters in your life? Want some extra love in your life? Gift them to your family or friends or those in need. Never waste food because this is one lesson that taters have taught through history.
5 Facts About The Tater Tots That Will Blow Your Mind
Tater tots made from leftover scraps
These little munchkins came from the excessive leftover scraps of french fries, and in order to not waste these, tater tots were invented.
Americans have a big tater tot appetite
It is estimated that Americans consume more than 70 million pounds of tater tots every year.
Tater tots naming contest
When tater tots were invented, a naming contest was held, and Clora Orton’s suggestion won.
Homemade tots is not where it’s at
Tater tots go through a rigorous 12 step process through industrial equipment, and this is why homemade tater tots often do not taste as good as the store-bought ones.
Tots have different names
Tater tots are also referred to as ‘potato royals,’ ‘potato gems,’ and ‘spud puppies.’
Why We Love National Tater Day
It’s a celebration of the potato pop culture
If you are an avid social media user/follower, you will know how much potatoes are loved and celebrated on the internet. From memes to songs to just pure love, potatoes have received it all like no other food item has.
It’s a celebration of taters’ universality
There are certain food items that are exclusive to just one culture or a few. These food items are part of a given culture’s identity. But in the case of our beloved tater, these are found in many cultures — as staple as salt or water.
It’s a celebration of perseverance and determination
There’s much history attached to taters and their importance in relation to nations. Food shortages were solved by planting taters, but food was also destroyed when disease spread through tater crops. Yet, there is always light at the end of the tunnel and that was the case here too.
National Tater Day dates