The Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot is one of those places we’ve missed because we didn’t have time or it wasn’t open that day. This time we stopped.
We didn’t know there was so much to know about potatoes!
The museum is housed in an old railroad depot. Those empty depots, remnants of the cross-country train travel, make excellent spaces for museums and often include architecture with embellishments worth seeing for their own sake. There aren’t such architectural details remaining in this one. If they existed, they have been camouflaged by partitions and remodeling for the potato artifacts, and in fact the building is currently undergoing renovation and because of the disruption there is no admission charged.
When we don’t pay admission, we spend more on souvenirs. One item this time was a tube of potato hand lotion, which turned out to be a good joke because the last ingredient on the list of fairly standard, but organic, lotion ingredients, was “potato starch,” probably just enough so the term “potato” could be applied. But the lotion has a good feel and mild scent. It’s neither watery nor greasy.
I was most intrigued by the collection of potato peelers, something like fifty of them (I estimated the number). How I’d like to try then out! I’m sure some work as well as or better than any available now.
Our grandchildren would have spent most time at the case of Mr. Potato and other toys.
Skus found the harvesting exhibit most intriguing: photos of hand picking, grower-devised machinery, and now the multi-row dig-and-clean machine.
And then there’s the time-consuming (15 years!) and complicated process of developing new strains, with the combination of potato seeds from the flowers, plants from cut potatoes, disease resistance and rot resistance to be tested, chemical analysis at various points, marketability, and of course the time to produce enough of the new strain for commercial production.
NEXT: Stamps and the trans-Atlantic potato beetle.