When is a potato more than just a potato? When it’s an Idaho potato. Just ask Frank Muir, president and CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission for the past 15 years. As the commission’s top executive, his job is to convince consumers from Savannah, Ga., to Seattle, Wash., and beyond that the Idaho potato is special.
“Were these potatoes grown in Idaho? That is what we want people to ask,” he said. Idaho grows excellent potatoes for reasons that include warm days and cool nights; volcanic, mineral-rich soil; and mountain-fed streams that tumble into a sophisticated reservoir system, Muir said. “Our marketing that makes a mystical place of Idaho, across the world, for growing potatoes.”
Potato organizations in the state say the brand-building is a success worth maintaining. “There is more brand recognition for Idaho potatoes than for almost anything in the country,” said Potato Growers of Idaho Executive Director Keith Esplin. “If they would quit that, in a few years potatoes would be a generic product.”