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The Great Potato Debate of America

The Great Potato Debate of America

Boil them, mash them, fry them, stick them in a stew – there are many ways to enjoy potatoes. This popular starch has become a staple in kitchens across the U.S., but what is the best way to enjoy this delicious vegetable? The team at Verdesian set out to discover America’s preferred method of preparing and enjoying their spuds.

Methodology 

For this study (or spudy, if you will), our team asked Americans across the country about their potato preferences. To accomplish this task, we surveyed 2,208 participants throughout August of 2022 about what types of tater temptations they craved and what starchy setbacks to avoid. We also analyzed Google Trends search interest data by state for the most popular potato dishes, like french fries, potato salad, and potato casserole.

Calling All Potato Lovers

Heat map showing which states love potatoes the most.

Firstly, it felt appropriate to gauge the participants’ inclination towards potatoes. We did this by asking our participants to rate their love for potatoes on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 meaning “I could eat potatoes every day.” Afterward, we added everyone’s ratings and organized the totals by state, and some of the findings may surprise you.

Believe it or not, not everyone has an affinity for our spud-buddies. Idaho, the state that produces nearly ⅓ of America’s potato crops, felt largely indifferent about their coveted creations. The Gem State only ranked 28 out of 44 on the spud love scale. Out of all the states we surveyed, Colorado, Texas, and Hawaii were filled to the brim with bonafide tater-haters. Hawaii scored the lowest, but we can forgive them since they came up with Uala chips, or delicious chips made from a sweet potato native to the island.

Louisiana, Kentucky, and Maine came out on top when it came time to show potatoes some love. Louisiana came in first, likely because many dishes the state is known for incorporate potatoes in some way. The Pelican State is famous for its crawfish boils, jambalayas, and gumbos – all of which include beloved spuds. Similarly, many people in Maine enjoy sides like potato salad with their renowned lobster dishes.

The Best Ways to Eat Spuds

A map of the U.S. displaying the top-searched potato dish in each state.

Next, we inquired about how Americans preferred to prepare their potatoes. Using data from Google Trends, we looked at what potato dishes people across the country were searching for. When it boiled down to which dish claimed spud supremacy, potato chips deservedly won the majority of the vote with 20 states nationwide. These results shouldn’t come as a surprise, as potato chips are a tasty snack that can be enjoyed on their own or as a side to a sub or sandwich.

Mashed potatoes came in second place, claiming 13 states across the U.S. Many would argue that no Thanksgiving spread is complete without mountainous mounds of mashed potatoes on the table. Mashed potatoes are also convenient and easy to make for any other day of the year, especially if you choose to use a mix or a similarly prepared version of the popular potato dish. While less glamorous, many mashed potato mixes made from dehydrated potatoes only require a pot of boiling water to cook.

Tater tots came in last place, only winning over North Dakota. Tater tots are a crucial component of one of North Dakota and the midwest’s most beloved dishes: the Hotdish. Hotdish is a simple casserole that is popular in the upper-midwestern region of the U.S. It consists of starch (usually tater tots), meat, and gravy. This casserole is inexpensive and simple to bake, making it easy to see why this potato dish is so beloved in the region.

What Kind of Sauce Would You Like With That?

Graphic showing the top dipping sauces for french fries in every state.

When it came to pairing crispy french fries with an equally delicious dipping sauce, ketchup came up on top among more than 50% of Americans. The delicate interplay between sweet and salty have made french fries and ketchup a diner staple since the 1940s. According to many fry consumers across the U.S., potatoes and tomatoes are a match made in culinary heaven!

The sauce contender that comes close to claiming ketchup’s crown is none other than ranch. Many states across the country agree that ranch is a close second to even the fanciest of ketchups. This sensational salad dressing has many applications outside french fries, such as pizza, sandwiches, and raw vegetables. Although ketchup and french fries have proven themselves as a match made in heaven, ranch dressing deserves an honorable mention.

What do you prefer to dip your french fries in?

Closing Thoughts

Potatoes are versatile vegetables that you can prepare in a variety of ways. Whether you mash them or bake them into a casserole, chances are they have found a way into your regular rotation of homemade dishes. Regardless of what your preferred method of potato preparation is, we can all agree that this starchy staple is a key ingredient in kitchens nationwide.

That’s why our team at Verdesian is on a mission to ensure that all crops, including potatoes, are getting everything they need to grow through our nutrient use efficiency solutions.

 

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