The search for a better potato

Americans are about to boil, mash, bake, and butter a whole lot of potatoes. In fact, thanks to meat-avoiding vegetarians and everyone else who just doesn’t like turkey, potatoes are the most commonly eaten Thanksgiving food, according to research group NPD. “During the holidays, potatoes are our biggest seller in fresh produce,” said Molly Blakeman, a spokesperson at Walmart, the country’s largest grocer. In November and December, the discount retailer sells more than 210 million pounds of bagged potatoes and over 1,000 truckloads of sweet potatoes. It’s the type of starchy gorgefest that hits a soft spot for potato nerds like David Holm, a researcher at Colorado State University who has been breeding all manner of spuds since 1978, including colorful potatoes like Purple Majesty and the pink-fleshed Mountain Rose. Another variety dubbed Masquerade bears a trademark purple and gold tie-dye pattern on the skin. “It’s always pleasing to know we have a variety that helps someone, a consumer or a producer,” he said in an interview with BuzzFeed News. Grows faster? Tastes better? Is more purple? As you go in for a second scoop of mash this week, give thanks for the scientists making potatoes even better. More