Courtesy Idaho Potato CommissionThe Idaho Potato Commission’s potato truck has enough invitations to keep going for a third year, commission chairman and chief executive officer Frank Muir says. As the big red Idaho potato truck gears down for the winter after traveling more than 25,000 miles in seven months, Frank Muir is looking for ways to keep the promotional truck rolling for a third year.
“It’s been such a huge success, and we’ve had so many requests for stops, I do want to find a way to keep it on the road,” said Muir, chairman and chief executive officer of the Eagle-based Idaho Potato Commission.
Muir said he thought the giant spud, built to commemorate the commission’s 75th anniversary, would be a one-year wonder, but it’s exceeded his expectations.
“Everywhere it goes, people just want it to stay another day,” he said, adding that the commission already has received enough invitations to keep the truck on the road for another season.
This year, the truck appeared in the Kentucky Derby parade; at Hasbro’s Mr. Potatohead headquarters in Pawtucket, Rhode Island; the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio; and at New York state’s biggest pumpkin contest, among many other events.
The Commission’s new commercial featuring the truck and potato grower Mark Coombs launched Oct. 21 on national cable television, Muir said.
Last year’s commercial brought a slew of letters and online comments praising it as “the best commercial ever,” and “one of the cutest and cleanest advertisements on TV.”
Muir said people who saw the truck on the highway would pull off to the side of the road to take photos or follow it to its destination.
Even the truck’s driver was treated like a rock star, he said.
At a Nascar race in Tennessee, people lined up around the block for the driver’s autograph.
“Everywhere we go, reporters and TV camera show up and it doesn’t cost us anything,” Muir said. “It’s free public relations.”
The truck also has been a moving billboard for the Idaho potato’s HeartCheck certification and the commission’s support of Meals on Wheels.
Muir said the only sad thing about the promotion is that everyone wants the 28-foot-long potato to be real.
“It’s the first question everybody asks,” he said. “They go up and touch it, and they’re still not sure.”
Muir said a news crew was showing footage of the truck when one broadcaster asked if it was real.
“Of course it’s real,” said his colleague, before getting a message in his earpiece.
“Oh,” he said, “they’re telling me it’s not real.”
The truck will make its final appearance of the year at the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl game on Dec. 21, to be covered nationwide on ESPN.
“After the bowl, we’ll be brainstorming about next year,” Muir said.