BLACKFOOT — There was a directive — more unofficial than anything — given on Facebook early Monday morning by Idaho Gov. Brad Little.
“Whether you choose to mash, fry, or bake ‘em, enjoy an Idaho potato today!” Little said.
It went along with a photo of the Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot, with wording over it noting that Monday was National Potato Day.
No place around here takes the potato any seriously than does Bingham County, or Blackfoot in particular, seeing as how the town is home to the potato museum.
I’ve been inside the museum itself and looked around before, but never before have I been inside the Potato Station Cafe at the south end of the building to see what’s offered there. So I decided to check it out and see how many other people were taking part in the celebration of National Potato Day.
The potato museum gets a good flow of traffic. Drivers can pass by the building at 130 NW Main St., and often see tourists setting up a camera on a special stand in front of the giant spud to show friends and relatives that they’ve been to the museum. It’s one of the biggest attractions Blackfoot has in drawing travelers off of I-15 and getting them to check out the town.
The flow of visitors inside the cafe Monday was proof of that. I parked next to a minivan with a Wisconsin license plate, wondering if they’d ever tasted fry sauce before in their lives. And whether they knew it or not, they were celebrating National Potato Day.
If they didn’t know, they thought it was a pretty neat thing when they found out.
Three Brigham Young University students — Ashley Pettit from Seattle, Corbin Morgan from Salt Lake City, and Whitney Crandall from Kaysville, Utah (which also happens to be the place where the popular Clover Club potato chips were launched in 1938, by Hod and Clover Sanders) — were among the customers scanning the menu at the cafe who didn’t know they were in the museum on a special day for the potato industry.
They seemed excited when they found out.
From the selection of items such as a basic baked potato with butter, a baked potato bar, a baked potato with the topping of the day (sausage gravy was the topping for Monday), potato bread, home-style cut french fries, potato salad, and a potato cupcake from Paisley Cakes, the BYU travelers selected potato ice cream and the home-style fries, commenting on how much different and better they were than most fast food fries.
They got a chance to see what “real” french fries are like.
The potato ice cream was a hit with them too.
”It’s really good. It tastes the same as regular ice cream,” Morgan said as he dipped into the huckleberry flavored treat with a plastic spoon.
”We’ve passed the (potato museum) sign on the freeway so many times and never stopped,” Pettit said. “I guess we chose the right day to stop.”
And, having come from Utah, they have been exposed to fry sauce, so nothing new there.
National Potato Day is the best time of all to celebrate Idaho’s world famous potato. And there’s no better place to celebrate it than the potato museum. They do it up right there.