Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Seven Days of Thanksgiving, Day 2: Put in Your Potatoes

Potatoes are approximately 80% water and 20% solid.

Potatoes are one of the two most popular fresh vegetables in the United States. (Lettuce is the other.)

The potato is the fourth most important crop in the world, following wheat, rice and corn.

The average American eats almost 140 pounds of potatoes annually. Of this, approximately one hundred pounds are made up of fresh or frozen potatoes in such dishes as mashed potatoes, baked potatoes and french fries.

McDonalds uses about 7% of all the potatoes grown in the United States for its french fries. They sell more than 1/3 of all french fries sold in restaurants in the U.S. each year.

1.8 billion pounds of sweet potatoes were produced in the United States in 2008. North Carolina led production at 874 million pounds, followed by California at 437 million pounds, and Mississippi at 335 million pounds.

Marie Antoinette was known to wear potato blossoms in her hair.

The ‘french’ in french fries refers solely to the method of cutting the potatoes, defined in Merriam-Webster’s Colelgiate Dictionary as, “to cut in thin lengthwise strips before cooking.” Despite the rebranding of this popular side as "Freedom Fries" in 2003, the term does not in any way refer to the country of France.

In 1990, Pringles produced the world’s largest potato chip, measuring 23 inches by 14.5 inches.

While mashed potato can be enjoyed as a side dish, it is also an instrumental part of shepherd’s pie, potato croquettes, gnocchi and other dishes.

The depression made in mashed potatoes for the purpose of pouring gravy is sometimes known as a “tater crater”.

Instant mashed potatoes are thought to have existed as far back as the Inca Empire.

One of the earliest references to ‘chips’ (known as French fries in the United states) can be found in Charles Dickens’ ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ (1859): “husky chips of potatoes, fried with some reluctant drops of oil.”

In 1952, Mr. Potato Head became the first toy advertised on television.

Sweet Potatoes: A Family Recipe

This dish, made by my mom at Thanksgiving, served as my introduction to sweet potatoes.

2 large cans sweet potatoes
1 cube butter
1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans

Spray round casserole dish (5" long by 8 1/2" wide) with nonstick spray
Layer ingredients from bottom to top as follows:

sweet potatoes
chopped pecans
brown sugar

Repeat until ingredients are exhausted, as you would a lasagna, ending up with pats of butter on top
Bake at 375 degrees until butter is melted and pecans are golden brown, approximately 20-30 minutes


  1. Great start to the "Seven Days of Thanksgiving". I look forward to getting together with family and friends every Thanksgiving! My favorite holiday!!

  2. Pretty interesting. I have heard how many potato products we actually eat each year before, but I am amazed every time I hear/read it. How much lighter could I be without them!?!