A Brief History of the Potato

By FWx Editors |

By a nearly 2-to-1 margin the potato is the most popular vegetable in the United States—and not just for eating. Now, the number of those potatoes actually consumed as French fries or potato chips cuts into that number a bit (do potato chips really count as a vegetable?). But regardless, the potato reigns supreme and the inquisitive minds from Ted-Ed looked into the history of everyone’s favorite tuber and drew some rather surprising conclusions. Is it possible that the industrial revolution would never have occurred without the potato? Would the allies have lost World War II if it weren’t for the spud? Those questions sound like they’re pushing the boundaries of believability, but Ted speculates that both those events could be traced to the great Irish migration brought about by, you guessed it, the great potato famine of the 19th century. Check out the video above for a more complete crash course in the history of the potato, including its use as a home decoration in Europe. Apparently when explorers returned with potatoes from the New World, cautious Spaniards thought the vegetable was too closely related to the more deadly nightshade and would only use it as a decorative plant.

Come to think of it, potato home décor sounds like it could really take off. We can call it a throwback style. Who wants to start an Etsy store?

Related: The History Behind the Most Classic Food Pairings
Sweet Potato Casserole Was Invented as a Way to Sell Marhmallows
5 Shocking Secrets About Yams

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