Potatoes: This Spud’s for YOU


18 Apr Potatoes: This Spud’s for YOU

With dozens of product pitches landing in my inbox daily, it takes a lot for one to stand out. Yesterday, one jumped off the monitor and poked me in the eyeball. Their selling point. “[It] takes just 2 minutes to prepare in the microwave  — no extra pots or dishes to wash.”

Oh, they had me at “microwave”. But not in the way they intended.

What left me rubbing my eyes in disbelief? Their approach. Was it to promote their product? Not so much. The aim of this campaign is: “To create humorous posts about how potatoes are a boring alternative to Fake Food In a Canister.” (Note: I have changed the name of the product in question to protect The Shameless.)

Too dumb to insult a root vegetable all on your own? Maybe one of these suggestions will get the creative juices flowing:

  • An image and story of talk show host potato that has put its guests to sleep
  • An image and story of a potato totally underdressed in it’s (sic) plain old skin for an event
  • Showcase kids talking about how boring potatoes are and how they love Fake Food In a Canister
  • Showcase how potatoes don’t cut it – they’re so worthless to eat – doorstoppers, brick-fixes (spoof on home entertainment show sponsored by Fake Food in a Canister)

Apparently, it’s even funnier if you drag children into it. Nothing like teaching them how to run a smear campaign early.

As a proponent of real food — and a potato lover — I’m not taking this sitting down. Okay, I am actually sitting down to write this, but I’m going to be a rebel. No one is paying me a cent to do this. I’ve no chance of winning their $100 gift card. Instead, here’s a shout out to all those lovely potato growers who’ve done nothing but provide us with real food — food that tastes good without high fructose corn syrup and enough sodium to make an elephant beg for water. The order of the growers is as Google provided. I know I’m missing lots of you, but at least Fake Food in a Canister isn’t getting any link love — at least not from me.

So go hug a spud and tip your hat to the following organizations:

Here are some of my favourite recipes. Make them soon. From REAL potatoes.

Got a favourite potato recipe? Share it and tell me why you love it. Is it the crispy skin no Fake Food from a Caninster can hope to imitate? Or do you love the butter-melting, fluffy interior achieved only with real potatoes? What kind do you  like best? Russets? Yukon Gold? What do you put on them? Butter? Sour cream? Talk ’em up. Let’s hope the Misguided PR Rep will realize his error in judgement and drop this campaign like a hot potato.

Photo © jermudgeon. Published under a Creative Commons License.


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  • Amy Proulx
    Posted at 08:28h, 18 April Reply

    Easiest snack in the world – post-modernism included. 1 washed potato, poked with a fork, on a microwave safe plate, and covered with the plastic microwave lid-thingy. Into the microwave for 4-6 minutes. Check to make sure it’s soft. If it’s not, put it back in for 2 more minutes. Cut open, add butter, salt and pepper. Eat.

    In that same time that you are waiting, you could also be slicing a tomato, washing a leaf or two of lettuce for a salad, and opening a can of beans to go along side. Pretty good for almost instant food.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 13:28h, 18 April Reply

      Thanks for pointing out that almost instant doesn’t have to mean processed beyond recognition and laced with additives!

      • Kerry Dexter
        Posted at 08:50h, 19 April Reply

        you needn’t even have a microwave, either. I cut up potatoes and boils them up (often add carrots too) and it just takes few minutes to have them ready to enjoy. thanks for the shout out to potato growers/ researchers, Charmian. creative way to reply to that wrongheaded PR campaign

    • altdotanise
      Posted at 19:25h, 18 April Reply

      Ha! This was, in fact, exactly what I was doing when I saw the first #unpotatofest tweet tonight. Microwaving potatoes while fixing plates of spinach salad and rotisserie chicken. IN A HOTEL ROOM. Dude, it just doesn’t get any easier than that. And both of my kids gobbled it up.

  • sarah henry
    Posted at 11:25h, 18 April Reply

    Thanks for bringing this misguided missive to my attention, Charmian. I like mashed potatoes laced with wasabi and studded with green onions. Also partial to boiled little spuds generously covered in butter, pepper, grated parmesan, and green garlic. Or sauteed, thinly sliced fingerlings with olive oil and garlic. Getting hungry now.

  • Nancy
    Posted at 11:36h, 18 April Reply

    My Italian grandmother’s baked potatoes with oil (http://therovinglemon.blogspot.com/2009/06/pushing-boundaries.html). I love them because: 1) they combine all the best parts of baked potatoes and mashed potatoes into one delicious heap; 2) they’re the best way I’ve ever found to get people to devour potato skins; and 3) you could never, ever get them from a can. Take that, processed-food makers!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 13:31h, 18 April Reply

      I don’t need much prompting to devour potato skins. They’re my favourite part. Thanks so much for sharing the link. Your grandmother’s potatoes sound divine.

  • Monica Bhide
    Posted at 12:15h, 18 April Reply

    I love, love, love potatoes. What an idiotic campaign. I am so glad you posted this.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 13:32h, 18 April Reply

      Thanks for the support, Monica. And I bet your potatoes are out of this world.

  • NS Foster
    Posted at 12:44h, 18 April Reply

    I actually have a new found love for mashed potatoes since a) discovering via the Real Food Has Curves guys how mashed potatoes don’t require an hour or six to make (http://www.realfoodhascurves.com/food-blog/2010/10/18/mashed-potatoes-in-minutes.html) Plus you’re almost obligated to include the skin that way, which is a plus IMO. B) discovering some genius on Allrecipes who added chipotle peppers to their mashed potatoes. Oh yes.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 13:34h, 18 April Reply

      Wonderful link. Thanks for reinforcing that real food doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Love that they include the skin. Add chipotle peppers to the mix and I’m very hungry!

  • Kathryn
    Posted at 13:19h, 18 April Reply

    I love potatoes. I blame this addiction on my maternal Irish grandparents. Mashed, roast (my Mom’s were great because they were swimming in beef fat), french fried — if it is potato, I like it … and lots of it. My favourite is probably scalloped potatoes.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 13:36h, 18 April Reply

      My husband is with you on the scalloped potatoes front. Now that I have a food processor, I don’t mind making them. They’re actually a great dish to make ahead when you have a few minutes. I don’t count the baking time since they cook right along with the roast.

  • Ricki
    Posted at 13:42h, 18 April Reply

    I love potatoes! Years ago I read that a potato is the most nearly fully nutritious food on earth–that is, it contains more nutrients in one place than any other food. I have no idea if this is true or not, but who cares? They are a great source of potassium, vitamins, other minerals–even 5 g of protein per decent sized spud! Love them. My favorite is spicy home fries, but a close second is what people call “Twice Baked Potatoes” (and what my mom called “Potato Boats” for some reason)–baked potatoes with the flesh scooped out, mashed, then replaced in the shells and re-baked. I’ve even managed a vegan version now that my diet has changed, and they are equally fabulous. Nothing, nothing compares to real food!!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 14:56h, 18 April Reply

      I don’t have hard figures in front of my either, but I can tell you a real skin-on potato has NO high fructose corn syrup in it. And hardly any sodium.

      I make a similar recipe to the one you’re talking about — smashed potatoes I call them. Olive oil makes them vegan but I like butter.

      And you’re right. Nothing compares to real food!

  • Daily Spud
    Posted at 14:19h, 18 April Reply

    Good on you for spreading the love for potato growers rather than for those who would have us bash the spud. I received the same PR email – and me with an Irish spud-lovin’ blog – so I blogged about it naturally. As for a favourite way with potatoes – there are so many, that I find it hard to choose, but I do love new potatoes, straight out of the ground, steamed and served with plenty of Irish butter and salt. Nothing better!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 14:58h, 18 April Reply

      Oh, new potatoes with butter and fresh cracked pepper is a great dish.

      I popped by your blog and was impressed by the scope of your potato recipes. Sweet as well as savoury, for those who are curious.

      Here’s to the spud! Thanks for defending this real food.

  • Sally - My Custard Pie
    Posted at 14:36h, 18 April Reply

    I think you should name and shame! Large potatoes baked in the oven after rubbing in olive oil and salt and slathered with creme fraiche or halved, flesh mashed with creme fraiche and chedder and seasoning and popped back into the oven – sprinkled with crispy bacon. ….or pommes dauphenoise, or proper chips (fries), potato pancakes, creamy mashed potato… the list is endless and so tasty. I yearn for Jersey Royals with a bit of butter.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 15:00h, 18 April Reply

      I really debated naming the company but didn’t want to give them any more traffic. Their product is for a stuffing mix that doesn’t require a bird. I think you can figure it out from there.

      Love your potato list. I’m thinking latkes for dinner tonight…

  • Isabelle
    Posted at 14:48h, 18 April Reply

    I was actually approached to participate in this particular campaign, though at the time I only knew it involved writing a tongue-in-cheek post promoting some kind of prepared convenience food. I didn’t respond, because the PR flak clearly hadn’t read my blog… in which I clearly state that I’m proud to be a cook-from-scratch, no-processed-foods kind of gal.
    Man, am I ever glad I decided to take a pass. Potatoes are awesome! Without them, we wouldn’t have mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, french fries, home fries, roasted potatoes, shepherd’s pie, potato bread, latkes, pommes anna, aloo gobi…. and, y’know, plain baked potatoes. There are few foods out there that are as perfect and as versatile as a potato. Hmph.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 15:02h, 18 April Reply

      Versatile, indeed! You’re the first to mention shepherd’s pie and potato bread. Bonus points for that.

      Sounds like we are on the same page with the real food issue, although I recently confessed to a few shameful items in my pantry.

      Thanks for dropping by and leaving such a great list of potato ideas!

  • Lana
    Posted at 16:36h, 18 April Reply

    I received the same pitch, and deleted the e-mail while laughing to tears. But you are right, it is pretty horrific. Are we so far removed from reality to forget that there are tons of people who would use this stuff? I don’t know, but the idea of ridiculing one of the best foods that sustained millions for ages is idiotic.
    With favorite recipes, I have to go back to my mother’s cooking: new potatoes, fresh from the market, just scrubbed, par-boiled and pan-fried in some lard until golden brown and crispy, served with coarse salt and a simple bibb lettuce salad – the epitome of spring (that dish is definitely making it to my Easter table.)

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 20:09h, 18 April Reply

      On the upside, potatoes are having a great day. Enjoy your Easter potatoes. The par-boiled, pan-fried technique makes an amazing dish! Thanks for the reminder.

  • Scott Lyon
    Posted at 18:18h, 18 April Reply

    Hi Charmian,

    Scott here, the offending emailer. I saw your response on Lisa Snyder’s blog and wanted to apologize for any offense with the Un-potato contest promotion. We intended it to be a fun, tongue-in-cheek way to help Kraft promote Stove Top Stuffing and their humorous ad campaign.

    We contest wasn’t about making nutritional claims, but to to post something light and funny in nature and not malign potatoes of their food value in any way.

    I’ll remove you from future blogger outreach around packaged foods, but would welcome working with you on a program that’s better aligned to the editorial content of your blog and reader’s interests.

    Once again, my apologies and lesson learned!


    Scott Lyon
    Blogger Outreach Manager
    Technorati Media

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 20:32h, 18 April Reply

      Hi Scott,

      Thank you VERY much for your considered response. I appreciate you taking the time and being up front enough to post your name and company affiliation. Kudos for this.

      While I don’t promote highly processed, pre-packaged foods, I defend the manufacturer’s right to market their product. Normally I delete emails promoting products outside my food philosophy. What got me was the un-potato slant. I just don’t like to see one product slag another. I’ve also nothing against humour. But if Stove Top wants funny blog posts, can’t they find a way to turn themselves into the Old Spice of boxed stuffing rather than the Don Rickles of pre-fab food? (Hmmm. I think I just showed my age there.)

      Thanks also for removing me from the packaged food pitches. I am more than happy to consider future ideas that align with my food philosophy and pitch policy (http://christiescorner.com/pitch-policy/).

      Again, I appreciate the apology and openness. It means a lot.

      All the best,

  • Robin Smart
    Posted at 18:54h, 18 April Reply

    Even I, the ‘hardly cooks sister” have too many potato recipes to mention. I love them anyway except raw, but even raw they have a place in a child’s craft life as easy stampers. Up with potatoes!!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 20:34h, 18 April Reply

      Come over for the latkes I just made.

      And thanks for pointing out that even raw, potatoes are a hard working vegetable.

  • Sarpreet Gakhal
    Posted at 19:05h, 18 April Reply

    I just made a deelish potato and leek soup last night…soups wouldn’t be the same without potatoes in my opinion. http://wp.me/p1sL7E-3q

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 20:35h, 18 April Reply

      Potato and leek soup? A classic if ever there was one. Such a lovely way to stay warm on a cold day. Thanks for sharing your recipe and link!

  • ari
    Posted at 00:59h, 19 April Reply

    potatoes it’s basic for every day .. love your article

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 20:58h, 19 April Reply

      Thanks. I’m very pleased with the response and didn’t know so many people loved potatoes!

  • Kris @ Attainable Sustainable
    Posted at 02:02h, 19 April Reply

    “Food” does not come from a box. Period. This is a ridiculous campaign that unfortunately, will probably convince more over-busy Americans that pre-fab food is the solution to life’s kitchen problems. Sigh.

  • Rebecca
    Posted at 10:05h, 19 April Reply

    Yesterday, as I prepared my response to the PR pitch (which I also received) in the form of a round-up of my favorite potato recipes, I got so hungry that I had to stop and go make something potato-y. If that doesn’t attest to the power of the potato, I don’t know what does. I can’t think of a less boring food. And such is the power of suggestion that tonight’s dinner will revolve around potatoes, too. In fact, I think I’ll sign off and whip up a roesti right now… :-)

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 21:00h, 19 April Reply

      Oh, I love rosti! I ended up making latkes. Read all about it tomorrow!

      And you’re right. Potatoes are far from boring. They’re so incredibly versatile it would take me a month to work through all the suggestions people have left.

  • The Writer's [Inner] Journey
    Posted at 10:40h, 19 April Reply

    I am not a food writer, but when I heard about this I was speechless! I just made a wonderful potato and red, yellow, orange pepper salad with a Mediterranean twist for a seder last night. I am most def a fan of the potato!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 21:01h, 19 April Reply

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Meredith. Your salad sounds amazing. But then, I’m a sucker for anything Mediterranean.

  • Alex
    Posted at 11:30h, 19 April Reply

    Hilarious and sad! Thanks for sharing.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 21:02h, 19 April Reply

      Thanks for reading. I know Technorati is rethinking their approach. Let’s just hope the Fake Food in a Canister people change their mind.

  • Jill Silverman Hough
    Posted at 20:38h, 21 April Reply

    A little late to the party but, just, yay you for posting this post!

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