What’s your favorite way to eat potatoes? Mashed, baked, french-fried… there’s no end to the ways potatoes can be cooked.

Many traditional holiday meals feature potato dishes made from recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation.

The English word “potato” comes from the Spanish word patata. Patata, in turn, comes from batata, which was a South American Indian word that originally referred to the sweet potato.

Oddly enough, the sweet potato plant and “regular” potato plants are completely different plants that are not closely related. Instead, the potato plant is more closely related to the eggplant and tomato.

Potato plants are perennials that grow low to the ground like vines. They have heart-shaped or oval leaves and small purple or white flowers. Wild potato plants also produce small, inedible green berries as fruit.

The part we know as the potato, though, grows underground. It’s called a “tuber,” and it grows from the end of underground stems below the roots of the plant.

Each tuber or potato has several buds. These are the small sprouts we call potato “eyes.”

It’s from these buds that new potato plants can grow. So even though a potato’s eyes can’t help it see underground, they can help grow more potatoes!

Potatoes were first grown more than 10,000 years ago in the Andes region of Peru in South America. Spanish explorers brought the potato to Europe in the 1500s.

Europeans brought potatoes to North America in the 1600s. Today, potatoes are the world’s fourth-largest food crop, behind rice, wheat and corn.

There are now more than 1,000 different types of potatoes around the world. China produces the most potatoes of any country in the world.

In the United States, Idaho and Washington produce the most potatoes each year. Other states with major potato crops include North Dakota, Wisconsin, Colorado, Oregon and Maine.

Fun potato facts:

  • A potato is about 80 percent water, 15 percent carbohydrates and 4 percent protein. Potatoes are good sources of vitamin C, niacin, thiamine and fiber.
  • The potato nickname “spud” comes from the act of digging a hole before planting and is probably related to the English word “spade.”
  • The green parts of a potato’s skin, as well as the leaves of the potato plant, contain a toxic compound. Although poisoning from potatoes is very rare, it’s always best to cut out green areas when peeling potatoes before cooking.
  • The average American eats more than 125 pounds of potatoes each year.
  • The first vegetable to be grown in space was… you guessed it… the potato!

 

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  1. We really enjoyed the potato video today! We thought it was hilarious and educational. Also, we learned a lot about potatoes.

    • We’re so happy to hear from you today and also to learn that you discovered some new facts about potatoes by exploring this Wonder together, Mrs. Alaniz’s Class! Thank you for visiting Wonderopolis and for sharing this awesome comment with us! Have a WONDERful day! :-)

    • Mashed potatoes ARE super yummy, Josh! We can see why the terrific tubers are a favorite of many Wonder Friends…just like you! :-)

  2. Dear Wonderopolis,
    Today’s wonder was very interesting. I did not know potatoes were the bottom of a plant.
    My favorite way to cook potatoes is to bake them, because when I peel and eat them, they are amazing and taste like magic.
    P.S. Wonderopolis is the coolest website on the earth! :D

    • We’re so happy that you think Wonderopolis is the coolest website on earth, David! Thank you so much for letting us know that! We really like how you described baked potatoes as tasting like “magic.” Very creative…way to go! :-)

    • We think it’s AWESOME that you learned something new about potatoes by exploring this Wonder, Eldwin! There are lots of vegetables that grow underground…carrots, turnips, potatoes…they’re all delicious! :-)

  3. Thank you for the information about potatoes. It made us all hungry for potatoes. We really enjoyed the video, and now we know about the potato and its eyes.

    • Thank YOU for stopping by today’s Wonder and letting us know what you learned about potatoes, Mrs. Gottlob’s 1st Hour! We must admit, we’re hungry after visiting today’s Wonder, too! Bring on the potatoes! :-)

  4. We LOVED the video! It was both funny and weird and we are going to devote our day to learning the words instead of doing work.

    Mr. Potato Head is our idol, and he needs a monkey suit.

    Have a potato-rific day!!! :)

    • We are super glad you liked today’s Wonder about “spuds,” 5A in Gibbons! We think Mr. Potato Head is really neat, too. We WONDER what he would look like all dressed up in a fancy suit! :-)

  5. I never knew potatoes could be funny, and we loved the video. We learned a lot about potatoes, and didn’t know they could be cooked in so many ways. We also didn’t know potatoes could be blue.
    Thank you!

    • We really appreciate your comment, Mrs. Gottlob’s 2nd hour! Thank you so much for sharing the neat things you learned about potatoes today! :-)

  6. Dear Wonderopolis,

    I didn’t know there were THAT many different kinds of potatoes. Amazing fact! I wonder a couple things, how many different ways can you say ‘potato’? Also, What is the most common way to eat potatoes? I think tomorrow’s Wonderopolis will be about money and where it came from, ect. I liked everything about this one! Really made me laugh! :)

    –Hannah From Team Turner

    • Hello, Hannah! We’re so glad you liked today’s Wonder about potatoes! We thought the video was funny…we’ve been singing that song all day! Thanks for trying to guess what tomorrow’s Wonder might be about, too! We’ll have to see if you are right! :-)

  7. Dear Wonderopolis,

    Wow, 1,000 different types of potatoes! We’ve only eaten 4 different kinds, so we WONDER what are the 996 other kinds and where are they found in the world? What is the most expensive type of potato? How much did the biggest potato weigh? This WONDER makes us want to eat potatoes for supper tonight and try out the yummy recipes!

    Our prediction for tomorrow’s WONDER will be about cars.

    Happy Day,

    TEAM CAISSE 5th Grade Reading Class:)

    • We DID have a happy day, TEAM CAISSE, because got to read awesome comments from Wonder Friends like YOU! Those are all WONDERful questions you asked about potatoes! We’ll all have to do some more WONDERing to see if we can find out the answers! Thanks so much for being AWESOME Wonder Friends! :-)

    • That’s a LOT of different types of potatoes, isn’t it, Ainoha? Thank you so much for letting us know you liked the movie that went along with today’s Wonder! :-)

  8. No, they don’t see with their eyes, because they don’t have eyes, they just say that because they have little buds on it. The video was really funny and they are from Spain.

    • Thank you for sharing what you learned from this Wonder of the Day® about potatoes, Riley! We appreciate your comment very much! :-)

  9. Potatoes can’t see out of their eyes because they don’t move. They come from Spain. I like mashed potatoes with gravy.

    • We love mashed potatoes with gravy, too, Cam! Yum! Thank you for letting us know some of the awesome facts you learned by visiting today’s Wonder! :-)

  10. We LOVED your video! We learned that a potato is 80% water. Our favorite way to eat potatoes is mashed, french fries, and home fries. Yum!

    • You guys are making us hungry with your comment about potatoes, Mrs. Rosenthal’s Class! Now it’s dinner time here in Wonderopolis, and we think we might try making some home fries! Maybe we can find a blue potato or two to use in the recipe! :-)

    • Hi, Bendary! Thank you so much for your nice comment! We’re SO HAPPY to hear that you look forward to visiting Wonderopolis! :-)

    • Nour is a GREAT Wonder Friend! We like getting comments from him! It makes our day to know that you and your brother are sharing Wonderopolis and learning together as a family each day! :-)

  11. This was fun too learn about. It was great to learn more about the ways potatoes could be cooked and used. And wow! Blue potatoes?? I did not know they could be that color. This was cool. Thanks.

    • Thanks for letting us know the interesting things you learned by exploring this Wonder about potatoes, kickingitBI6! We think it is AWESOME that you visit Wonderopolis! :-)

  12. Hey!
    You know that is so cool?
    How do you grow vegetabels in space?
    Man, that just does not make any sense at all!
    Well, I did not know that the potato eyes give more seeds to produce more potatos!
    Well, I thought you had to plant multiple seeds for one potato!
    Well, that is a very interesting fact!
    Give me something cold and interesting for tomorrow!
    Hey, my teacher is having a baby on the 18th as a favor could you do a baby one for me, then?
    Then, I will make sure my teacher does that one!
    That would be sooooo super if you could do that for me!
    But don’t worry if you can’t, it’s all right, I usually don’t get what I want, but life isn’t fair, right?
    Bye, see you tomorrow!
    mak – makayla

    • Thanks for this GREAT comment, Mak! We’re glad you learned so much about potatoes by exploring this Wonder today! Did you know there is a Wonder that might help explain how vegetables might be grown in space? It’s past Wonder of the Day® #262 – Can Plants Grow Without Soil? Here’s a link to it: http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/can-plants-grow-without-soil/.

      We’ll see what we can do about a future Wonder of the Day® about babies. They sure are cute aren’t they? Thanks so much for being a GREAT Wonder Friend! :-)

  13. I had potatoes for supper today. What was with the potato singing about itself!? It needs a banana suit. LOL!

    When can you do a wonder about bunnies or guinea pigs??

  14. Dear Wonderopolis,
    :) Today’s wonder of the day was great, I didn’t know there were THAT MANY potatoes, 1,000, wow. Also, I have learned a lot by reading the wonder of the day. I really didn’t know that there where that many potatoes that existed, I only knew 4. By the way, I love potatoes, now I want to eat. I have a question! How big can potatoes get and how tall?
    Potatoes are yummy -Valentena Sheremeta:)

  15. That’s soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo funny, the potatoes are singing. It made me laugh a lot and made me fall out of the chair. Bye. :)

    • Hello, Natalia! Thank you so much for letting us know how much you enjoyed the video for this Wonder! We’re glad you thought it was funny! :-)

  16. “Who doesn’t like potatoes!!! Tater haters, they must be out of their minds, tater hater you know it’s just not right, tater haters!” I love potatoes and the song “Tater Haters” by Fred Figglehorn is so funny. You guys should check it out!!!! :D

    • We’ll have to do that, Lizzy! Thank you for suggesting we check out that song. We think there can never be too many funny potato songs! :-)

  17. Cool. I liked the video. HOW DO YOU DO THOSE HAPPY FACES?!?!?!

    P.S. I didn’t know potatoes had eyes…

    P.S.S. That song is stuck in my head…potato…potato…potato…

    • We’re so happy to hear that you liked the video for this Wonder, Wonder Friend! We’re also happy that you learned some new things about potatoes today!

      To make the smiley faces, you put a “:” (colon), a “-” (small dash) and a “)” (ending parenthesis) together without any spaces. So, : + – + ) = :-)!

    • We really liked the video for this Wonder, too, Audrey! It looks like it was super fun to make (we know it was super fun to sing along with)! :-)

  18. OMG! That video was SO funny! It made me lol! I also liked the article! It was very interesting! But, then again, about every article on wonderopolis is interesting!!! I am going to tell ALL my bff’s about this breathtaking website!!!
    From : Abby M. a.k.a. your biggest fan!

    • What a SUPER comment you left for us, Abby! We appreciate all the nice things you said about Wonderopolis and hope your best friends like learning here as much as you do! We’re glad you’re our biggest fan! :-)

  19. Dear wonderopolis,
    I really liked the video with the potatoes, it was funny. I did not know that there is 1,000 different types of potatoes. Or that there were so many different colors of them. Two new words I learned are perennials and tuber. Thank you for having all this great information about potatoes and other cool things.

    Team unger #23

    • It makes us super happy that you chose to explore this Wonder about potatoes today, Team Unger! You learned a lot! We WONDER if all those different types of potatoes taste similar? Does the color of the potato make it taste differently? Thanks for making us WONDER today, too! :-)

  20. i love the clip and for me the best way to eat potatoes is to eat them in the form of fries (I just came over from London so I hope I said fries right!!)

    • Hey there Christine, we like your choice of potatoes! We hope to have some soon– but we might bake them instead of frying them (for fun!) :)

    • YUM, Jack, we LOVE potatoes too! We love to slice them up and bake them, with the help of an adult! Have a great Friday! :)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Chris! We learned that potatoes have buds and can produce eyes, but not the ones that we have! We think potatoes would look funny with eyelashes! :)

      The buds that sprout, or eyes, help to grow even MORE potatoes! We sure do love potatoes here at Wonderopolis, how about you? :)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend B! We’re glad you liked our Wonder– especially if the video made you Wonder even more! Thanks for visiting us today! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Do potatoes see with their eyes?
  • Where did potatoes come from?
  • What country produces the most potatoes?

Wonder Gallery

Try It Out

Ready for some hands-on experience with potatoes? Grab a friend or an adult, and head to the store to get a couple of different types of potatoes for the activities below.

You know how good potatoes taste, but did you realize they can also power a simple clock? Check it out for yourself by making a potato battery! Just follow the instructions to learn how powerful potatoes can be!

And speaking of how good potatoes taste, a potato Wonder of the Day wouldn’t be complete without a few tasty potato recipes to try at home:

 

Still Wondering

Check out The Electric Company’s Electric Potato activity to learn all about rhyming patterns!

 

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bud  eye  potato  sprout  tuber 

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