Welcome to our special Spuds and Spurs week! Spuds, you say? Yes, indeed. Potatoes were a staple on the westward trails. They were nutritious and stored well, so pioneers depended on them, and as such they should be celebrated. They are also one of my favorite foods.
I’m from Idaho originally and the license plate of my first car proudly read “Famous Potatoes”. As a teen that was a mortifying thing to have on one’s car. I survived, but I thought it was kind of embarrassing to be from a potato state when other kids got to be from states famous for wild horses or aliens. When I traveled out of state and let it be known that I was from Idaho, people invariably said, “Potatoes, right?”
Right–except that I never ate an Idaho potato until I moved to Colorado in 1982, where there were special bins marked “Idaho Potatoes”. At the time they didn’t sell Idaho spuds in the northern part of Idaho–they sold potatoes from Washington, Oregon, California and North Dakota. I love all potatoes, so I didn’t care.
And now to Mr. Potato Head…
Shortly after I married, my husband and I moved to northern Nevada, where we lived near the largest spud farm in the nation. (Yes, Nevada, not Idaho.) I took a job teaching junior high school, and since I’m a big fan of whimsy, I used my kids’ Mr. Potato Heads as room decorations. The students, would ask why I had so many Mr. Potato Heads, and I would explain that I was from Idaho and Mr. Potato Head was my favorite animal.
That stopped them in their tracks. “But…he’s a potato, not an animal.”
“Does he have legs and eyes and a nose and a mouth?”
“Then he’s my favorite animal.”
Soon the kids were bringing me their old Potato Heads, and I started getting new ones as gifts. One student negotiated a trade–he’d give me his prince and princess Potato Heads in exchange for my Darth Tater. I liked the kid, so I agreed. I kind of miss Darth, though.
The original Mr. Potato Head was invented in 1949 and made with actual potatoes. The Mr. Potato Head kit supplied the face and body components, which were on nails, and the child had to come up with his own potato to put them on. Toys were slightly more deadly back then. You don’t find points sharp enough to skewer a potato on kids’s toys nowadays. The plastic potato body was included in the kit in 1964 and in 1975, the spud body became much larger.
Some fun Mr. Potato Head facts–he received four votes to be mayor of Boise, Idaho in 1985. He was the official Spokes Spud for the Great American Smoke Out in 197 and surrendered his pipe. He was the first toy ever advertised on television in 1952.
Mr, Potato Head has starred in films, been featured in McDonald Happy Meals, floated high as a balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and even dresses up as a cowboy. In fact…Cowboy Mr. Potato Head will be one of the prizes given away in our special event. So exciting!
And Now…The Spurs and Spuds Contest
Here’s how the contest works–it’s simple, but a little different from our past contests. Every day two blog commentors will be chosen as semi-finalists. On Sunday, September 29, two winners will be chosen from the semi-finalists. The grand prizes are a great big Lays Potato Variety Pack, and Mr. And Mrs. Potato Head!
To enter to be one of my semi-finalists, please tell me if you had a Mr. Potato Head. If you are lucky enough to be randomly chosen as my semi-finalists, you will also receive an autographed copy of my soon-to-be-released book, A Ranch Between Them.
- Two semi-finalists chosen each day.
- Two grand prize winners chosen from all semi-finalists and announced on Sunday.
- To enter my contest, tell me if you had a Mr. Potato Head.
- My semi-finalists will receive autographed copies of my latest book.