After months of much anticipation and fanfare, the Great Big Idaho Potato Truck officially set off on its seven-month cross-country journey following a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Idaho Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter in front of the Idaho Capitol Building.
In celebration of its Diamond Anniversary, the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC) built a larger-than-life version of the vintage Idaho potato postcard. Weighing in at 6 tons (the equivalent of 32,346 medium-sized Idaho potatoes), the Great Big Idaho Potato is traversing the country to greet fans and to help raise funds and awareness for Meals On Wheels Association of America (MOWAA), the oldest and largest national organization dedicated to helping end senior hunger.
“Potatoes are very important to Idaho and I’m proud of the work the entire industry has done for the past 75 years to develop a first-class brand that is recognized around the world,” says Governor Otter. “The Great Big Idaho Potato Truck serves as a traveling ambassador for the great state of Idaho, the number one producer of potatoes in the country.”
“This is a very special year for us as we recognize an industry that has worked tirelessly to grow the finest potatoes available. We know that our potatoes provide nourishment to millions of folks every day of the year but many don’t realize how important the potato industry is to Idaho,” says Frank Muir, president and CEO, IPC. “Idaho potatoes generate more than $4 billion dollars in revenue annually and employee more than 30,000 people. Agriculture and potatoes in particular are the primary reasons Idaho is among the most fiscally sound states in the nation.”
The Great Big Idaho Potato Truck made its national debut at the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho, last December when ESPN prominently featured it several times during the Game. Since then, the Truck has made several public appearances and at every venue, the most frequently asked question is, “Is it real?” We’ll never tell, but in the event it is, the Great Big Idaho Potato…
- Would take more than 10,000 years to grow.
- Is 1,102 times heavier than the largest potato ever grown, which weighed 11 pounds.
- Would take 2 years and 9 months to bake.
- Could make 30,325 servings of mashed potatoes and more than 1.4 million (1,455,570) average-sized fries.
- The Great Big Idaho Potato Truck was created and built by Chris Schofield and Sharolyn Spruce of Weiser, Idaho. With the help of a few specialized contractors, they spent an entire year designing and building this incredible vehicle. The Kenworth Sales Company and Western Trailer, both based in Boise, Idaho, also aided with the construction.
After the Truck’s cross-country tour, it will be back on its home turf in Idaho to celebrate the 2012 harvest at Shelley Spud Days as well as participate in other events around the state.
In recognition of its milestone anniversary, the IPC made a $100,000 donation to MOWAA. This national organization represents more than 5,000 MOWAA programs across the country that, in total, prepare and deliver more than one million meals each day to homebound seniors. It is estimated that on any given day, there are between 800,000 and 1.7 million volunteers donating their time and often their own resources to make sure the elderly in their communities are nourished. Potatoes are an important food for these programs, because they are nutrient-dense, affordable and extremely versatile. And maybe most importantly, they are a food that many seniors enjoy eating.