KANSAS CITY, Mo. — About 1,800 miles into its cross country journey, the Idaho Potato commission’s great big Idaho potato rolled into the Kansas City metro area.
Accompanying the potato is the commission’s Tater Team, driver Paul Humbracht and “potato ambassadors” Kaiti Frickey and Ellis Nanney. Humbracht said he’s been driving trucks for about 8 years and the big baker is the most fun load he’s ever hauled.
“We get lots of honks on the road,” Humbracht said April 16 as he polished the commission’s logo on the side of the rig. “But what I like is the way everybody smiles so big and waves. It’s really been a fun drive so far.”
Humbracht revved up the Kenworth semi tractor and custom-built trailer in late March, leaving Idaho for a seven-month road trip that will see the over-sized russet travel to Washington D.C. and back.
Nanney said the most common question has been: “Is it real?”
The Tater Team’s response is always the same: “Feel it and see what you think.”
The polymer skin of the 12-foot-wide potato does feel a bit like a real russet. Nanney said the skin was sprayed on after the final shape of the spud was formed with foam. Inside it has steel beams welded in place for stability. It took almost a year to build.
Frickey said some of her favorite moments from the early days of the tater tour were in Texas.
“We had some guys tell us that this wasn’t all that big,” she said. “They told us they grow peanuts this size in Texas.”
The Idaho Potato Commission had the 28-foot-long, 12,130-pound potato built in honor of the commission’s 75th anniversary year. The mission: raise awareness about the affordable nutrition of Idaho potatoes.
The super spud is also spreading the word about the Meals on Wheels Association of America program as it rolls across the nation. Meals on Wheels programs serve more than a million meals daily to senior citizens. The IPC donated $100,000 to the program in addition to promoting it during the giant tater's trip.