What can you say about a 17-pound potato named Doug? That he was beautiful? That Doug loved Mozart and Bach? That he would make a lot of vodka? Who knows if a Big Potato loves music? To find out the truth, Mr. Science went all the way to New Zealand to investigate the strange case of the world’s largest potato. An excellent article in The Guardian by Eva Corlett brought Doug to the attention of the world.
Once upon a time, Colin & Donna Brown lived a quiet life in Hamilton, New Zealand puttering their days away in their garden. The greatest problem they faced was keeping Peter Rabbit away from their carrots in the manner of Mr. McGregor. Unbeknownst to them, Colin was about to make a discovery that would bring them to the attention of the world. Colin was weeding his garden when his hoe hit something large and solid underground. Colin had struck Doug. Ms. Corlett’s article reports Colin said: “Donna this must be one of those white sweet potatoes that we grew because some of them grow massive out here.” After giving the object the old taste test, Collin realized he had unearthed a giant white potato.
What do you do with a giant potato? You give him a name that suits his personality. Thus, Doug the Giant Potato was christened. Colin said: “We put a hat on him. We put him on Facebook, taking him for a walk, giving him some sunshine. It’s all a bit of fun. It’s amazing what entertains people. It’s fair to say our veggie garden can get a bit feral. There are some parts of the garden you need to pack a lunch and advise your next of kin before heading to.”
Colin reports they had not planted potatoes for two or three years deepening the mystery of Doug’s origin. Could Doug have been seeded by aliens like the pods in Invasion of the Body Snatchers? Was Doug part of an interstellar plot to take over the Earth one French Fry at the time? The potato soup thickens. Might Doug be the vanguard of an army of giant intelligent tubers bent on seeking revenge against humanity for the transmogrification of millions of their Earthly relatives into potato chips, hash browns, mashed potatoes, twice-baked potatoes, boiled potatoes, potato casserole, baked gnocchi, tater tots, Shepherd’s pie, or potatoes au gratin?
Ponder the facts about potato consumption and beware. If there are intelligent Space Alien Potatoes across the universe it’s easy to see why they would consider the Earth to be the archenemy of potatoes. Mr. Google reports that the average person eats about 110 pounds of potatoes a year. The National Potato Council reports that in 2020 about 42.7 billion pounds of potatoes were produced and eaten each year. That is no small potatoes. If Intelligent Space Potatoes are able to get those potatoes to unite and throw off their chains, no human is safe. We are all doomed to fall to an attack of Killer Potatoes.
But there is hope. The Guinness Book of World Records reports that the largest Pre-Doug potato was found in England in 2011 weighing about 10 pounds. Doug is clearly the King of Potatoes. Fortunately, Doug at this point seems content to amuse New Zealanders and not take over the world. Humanity’s best bet to stave off Killer Potatoes is appeasement by recognizing their accomplishments to show we can be their friends. Consider some of the great potatoes of history: Mr. Potato Head reigned supreme as a toy in the 1950s. The most famous dog in beer ad history was the late great Spuds MacKenzie. Every August 19th is National Potato Day. Great days in Potato History include 2000 BC when the Incas first planted potatoes as a crop. In 1536 the Spanish Conquistadores invaded Peru and took back the first potatoes to Europe. Thomas Jefferson first served French fried potatoes in the White House in 1802. In 1885 Van Gogh painted his famous picture The Potato Eaters immortalizing the role that potatoes play in nutrition. In 1995 NASA launched potatoes into orbit making them the first veggies grown in space. The list goes on and on.
The greatest episode of the Andy Griffith show combines Aunt Bea’s pickles, kindness, and potatoes. Clara has won the best pickles at the county fair for eleven years. It’s a big deal for Clara. Barney and Andy make a fuss over Aunt Bea’s pickles even though her pickles are terrible. The guys switch out her pickles for store-bought dills not knowing Aunt Bea has decided to enter them in the county fair. At first, they think it would be funny for Aunt Bea to win with store-bought pickles. Then Clara talks about how much winning the best pickles means to her since her husband passed away. Andy and Barney then have to eat all store-bought pickles so Aunt Bea will enter her own terrible pickles and lose to Clara. Clara wins the contest. Andy closes by saying: “What’s small potatoes to some folks can be mighty important to others.”
But if flattering potatoes doesn’t work, Doug and Donna have saved the Earth. They wrapped Doug in plastic to preserve him and plan on making him into vodka.