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Potato History

History and fun facts

Potato History

Get to Know the Potato

Potato Facts - Origin of Potatoes

Today, the potato is America’s favorite vegetable, but the origin of potatoes began far away from the United States. Where did potatoes originate? The Inca Indians in Peru were the first to cultivate potatoes around 8,000 BC to 5,000 B.C. Potato History: The ancient civilizations of the Incas used the time it took to cook a potato as a measurement of time. While they spread throughout the northern colonies in limited quantities, potatoes did not become widely accepted until they received an aristocratic seal of approval from Thomas Jefferson, who served them to guests at the White House. Thereafter, the potato steadily gained in popularity, this popularity being strengthened by a steady stream of Irish immigrants to the new nation.

History of the Potato in Europe

In 1536, Spanish Conquistadors in Peru discovered the flavors of the potato and transported them to Europe. At first, the vegetable was not widely accepted. Sir Walter Raleigh introduced potatoes to Ireland in 1589, but it took nearly four decades for the potato to spread to the rest of Europe. It wasn’t until Prussia’s King Fredrick planted potatoes during wartime hoping that peasants would start eating them. Potatoes arrived in the colonies in the 1620s when the Governor of the Bahamas sent a gift box containing potatoes to the governor of the colony of Virginia.

Potato History in the United States

The potato origin story in the United States is like the history of the potato in Europe in that it was not immediately accepted. While it spread throughout the northern colonies in limited quantities, an important part of potato history is when they received an aristocratic seal of approval from Thomas Jefferson, who served potatoes to guests at the White House. Thereafter, the potato steadily gained in popularity, this popularity being strengthened by a steady stream of Irish immigrants to the new nation.

Potato Life Cycle

Potatoes are grown as annual plants. Depending on the climate, potatoes are planted and harvested at different times of the year. For example, in the northern United States, fields are typically planted in the spring and harvested in the fall. The part called a “potato” grows underground. The potato grows on a specialized underground stem called a stolon. So, although potatoes grow underground, they are stems, not roots, and are known as “tubers.”

MORE POTATO HISTORY

What states grow potatoes?

Nowadays, potatoes are grown in almost every region in the United States ⎼ over 38 states grow potatoes. Since 2000, over one million acres of potatoes have been planted and harvested each year.

Fun Potato History Fact

Did you know- 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, and eventually, feeding future space colonies.

More Fun Potato History Facts

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The biggest potato grown to date from one plant was 370 pounds! This was in 1974 by Englishman Eric Jenkins.

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There are two potato holidays. National Potato Day is on August 19th and another National Potato Day is on October 27th.

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“Potatohead” was one of the first-ever toys advertised on television which was in the year 1952.

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Marie Antoinette, the wife of Louis XV, made potatoes a fashion statement when she started wearing potato blossoms in her hair.

Facts about the Potato Plant

Potatoes belong to the same family as tobacco.

Potatoes and sweet potatoes are not in the same family despite both being tubers that grow underground.

One of the differences is that while potatoes are tubers, sweet potatoes are the enlarged roots of the sweet potato plant, known as root tubers.

Sweet potatoes belong to Convolvulaceae, the same family as morning glory.

A hybrid plant exists called ‘tomtato’ that grows tomatoes and potatoes in one plant.

Potatoes are easy to grow; unlike other crops, they do not require large amounts of fertilizer or chemical additives and use less water than other crops. Potatoes are grown as annual plants. Depending on the climate, potatoes are planted and harvested at different times of the year. For example, in the northern United States, fields are typically planted in the spring and harvested in the fall. The part called a “potato” grows underground. The potato grows on a specialized underground stem called a stolon. So, although potatoes grow underground, they are stems, not roots, and are known as “tubers.” Potato flowers tell you that the plant is starting to produce the tubers we grow them for under the soil. Flowers on the potato plant bloom towards the end of their growing season. A potato plant grows almost 60 centimeters or 24 inches in length. They grow at the height of 4,000 meters above sea level. The plants bloom in different colored flowers like white, blue, purple, red, and pink. The color correlates to the type of potato that is growing. Red flowers mean it is a red potato plant.