Okay, so I realize that this is probably the most annoying question Idahoans must face on the regular. But seriously, what is in Idaho? What’s the weather like? Are they cloudy and rainy like Seattle? What is their primary source of commerce? Here’s a quick list of what Idaho is best known for below (We can talk more about potatoes later):
- Scenic mountain landscapes
- Miles of protected wilderness
- Outdoor recreation areas
- Hot springs
Some more interesting facts about Idaho are: (source TravelDrafts.com)
Idaho is called the “Gem State” because nearly every known type of gemstone has been found in the state of Idaho. More than 72 different precious and semi-precious gemstones are mined from Idaho. Furthermore, it is one of only two places in the world where star garnets can be found in significant quantities (India is the other).
Idaho is a made-up word. When Congress was considering a name for present-day Colorado, lobbyist George Willing suggested the name “Idaho,” claiming it was an Indian word that means “gem of the mountains.” This name was not chosen for Colorado, but two years later, it was used when the Idaho Territory was created in 1863.
One thing Idaho is famous for, but it is so unfortunate, is wildfires, as the state suffers from a high risk of wildfires because of its hot, dry summers and early falls. Lightning strikes, and humans typically spark many fires during this season.
Wildfires are a natural occurrence out West in the U.S., and although they can be beneficial to nature, they are also notoriously dangerous to public safety and the environment. Unfortunately, Idaho has suffered many large and destructive wildfires in the last decades, causing significant destruction and damage.
Okay, back to the potatoes.
Why is Idaho known for potatoes?
In Michigan, we have a host of apples to choose from, to export, and to sell, making our state known for its thriving apple industry. Michigan ranks third in apple production in the United States, with over 9.2 million apple trees spread across thousands of acres of orchards. But we are not known as the apple state? Why is Idaho so intrinsically intertwined with potatoes?
In trying to find the answer, I found that because Idaho and potatoes have such a close relationship, there’s even an Idaho Potato Museum! Their answer is this: “Idaho’s rich volcanic soil is ideally suited for potatoes. Potatoes seem to grow better in a light soil, like volcanic ash which has a rich supply of trace minerals and appears to be necessary for successful potato production. Idaho’s scenic mountains collect snow throughout the winter months”.
I found a few more interesting nuggets of knowledge regarding potatoes, such as:
- Thomas Jefferson is credited for introducing “French fries” to The States when he served them at a White House dinner.
- In October 1995, the potato became the first vegetable to be grown in space. NASA and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, created the technology with the goal of feeding astronauts on long space voyages and, eventually, feeding future space colonies.
- The average American eats about 124 pounds of potatoes per year, while Germans eat about twice as much.
Number three is definitely relatable for me. I love potatoes; any way you can make them! Here’s my “Bubba Gump Shrimp” list of my favorite ways to eat potatoes:
- French fries
- Mashed with gravy
- Sauteed to a crisp with garlic and onion
- Sauteed to a crisp with onion and hot dogs
- Cold boiled potatoes
- Baked potatoes topped with sour cream, chives, and cheese
- Potato chips (Being from Michigan, we love the Better Made brand, of course)
- Potato salad with a creamy dressing, herbs, and crunchy vegetables (my Aunt Pat makes the best at family picnics!)
- Roasted potatoes with rosemary, garlic, and olive oil
- Hash browns – crispy and golden brown on the outside, soft on the inside
- Potato wedges with a spicy seasoning, baked until crispy
- Scalloped potatoes layered with cheese, cream, and herbs
- Potato pancakes (latkes) served with applesauce or sour cream
- Potato soup – creamy and comforting, especially on a chilly day
- Smashed potatoes – boiled potatoes lightly mashed with butter and herbs
Part of the reason why I love potatoes so much is that they are generally easy on the stomach. Since I was a baby, I have had a sensitive stomach. Cooked potatoes of all varieties are examples of easy-to-digest foods. Sweet potatoes are exceptionally gentle on the digestive tract because they are mostly made up of insoluble fiber, which speeds up digestion and promotes regularity.
The possibilities are truly endless when it comes to cooking with potatoes. No wonder they are such a versatile and beloved ingredient in many cuisines around the world, but especially, in my home!
What chips are made in Detroit Michigan?
Speaking of potato chips, specifically my state’s brand, Better Made. Idaho might be known for its potatoes, but Michigan is known for its potato chips. The Better Made Snack Food Company has been a Detroit institution since 1930. It is the lone survivor of the potato chip companies that sprang up in the early decades of the twentieth century in a city that devours the snack.
The Detroit Historical Society cited that at one time there were over twenty potato chip manufacturers in the City. The New Era company merged with Frito in 1958, who merged with Lay in 1961. To compete with national brands, Better Made produced its first flavored chip, barbecue, in 1973, with a sour cream chip & onion chip following. Over time, Better Made has diversified its products, offering different cuts in numerous flavors.
According to history, the potato chip, invented in 1853, took some time to gain popularity as a snack. However, after World War I, it began to capture people’s attention. In 1930, two ambitious Sicilian immigrants from Detroit, MI, Cross Moceri, and Peter Cipriano, joined forces and founded the Cross & Peters Company, which would later evolve into the well-known Better Made chip brand in 1934.
What is Idaho known for besides potatoes?
In conclusion, Idaho is known for more than just potatoes. It is famous for its scenic landscapes, gemstones, outdoor recreation areas, huckleberries, mining, hot springs, and unfortunate wildfires. However, its close relationship with potatoes is undeniable, with Idaho’s volcanic soil providing the ideal conditions for successful potato production.