By Matt Wiley
Giving a whole new meaning to the term “hot potato,” a 28-foot long, 12,000-pound “Great Big Idaho Potato” sat outside of the Walmart Supercenter on Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. in New Tampa (acrross from Regents Park Dr. in Pebble Creek) on June 30.
Sitting atop a fire-engine red, 48-foot flatbed trailer, the huge spud has been putting on some serious miles as it makes its way across the country in celebration of the 75th year of the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC).
“We’re on a seven-month tour,” said 23-year-old Ellis Nanney, who has been traveling with the potato since it left Idaho in April. “We’re making stops at local supermarkets to spread the word that potatoes can be very healthy, if they’re made correctly.”
Nanney says that he is used to the wide-eyed reactions that he gets from most people when they first see the six-ton spud.
“It’s big,” said Jason Grady, as he and his wife Doris admired the potato. “It’s definitely the biggest potato in New Tampa.”
The giant potato truly is a marvel. If it were real, it would have been more than 10,000 years in the making and would take two years and nine months to bake. It also would make more than 1.4 million French fries or 30,325 servings of mashed potatoes.
The giant potato’s ongoing tour also is helping to raise awareness for the Meals On Wheels Association of America (MOWAA), to which the IPC recently donated $100,000 to help more than 5,000 MOWAA programs around the country keep America’s elderly nourished, including here in Tampa. According to the website MOWTampa.org, the group delivers more than 650 meals each day to households around the city.