We are on the road again.  Each year we drive across the country from Las Cruces, NM, to Maine and back.  Ten years ago we would have made no reservations and looked for a place to stop as we went.  We’ve minimized the adventure since then.  We’ve chosen one hotel chain which gives us what we want: nice towels, a box, not a pocket pack, of tissues, continental breakfast and internet connection―and every so often we get a free night.  But there are still unexpected experiences.

I was staring out the window of our hotel in Quincy, Massachusetts, when a very long red trailer truck appeared.  I watched as it was maneuvered, with the help of several people around it, into parking along the back edge of the lot.  All I could read from my window were the words “75th Anniversary” at the front and “Meals on Wheels” at the back.  What appeared to be an enormous granite rock was strapped in between them.

75th Anniversary of Meals on Wheels?  This did not seem likely.  I went over to investigate.

The truck is the 72 foot long project of the Idaho Potato Commission, called The Famous Idaho Potato Tour.  It’s the Commission’s 75th anniversary.  The “rock” represents a giant potato: one that would take 10,000 years to grow, were nature capable of doing that.

Famous Idaho Potato Tour Truck

Famous Idaho Potato Tour? I conclude that it is the potato, not the tour that is famous.  But if Idaho potatoes are already famous, why all the publicity?

An Idaho potato in the hand gives pleasure: solid, attractive in its usefulness, it is a good base for a healthy meal.  The Idaho Potato Commission seems to have caught a serious case of the “more is always better” syndrome and gone over the top.  It’s marketing supersized.  I found the Famous Idaho Potato Tour Truck at once charming and disturbing.  Why pretend a potato could grow so long, so large?  Why not demonstrate how real potatoes grow?  That “giant spud” still looks like imitation granite to me.

The four crew members must be having a great time traveling the country, though it’s a mighty long rig to handle.  Wouldn’t it have been enough, and saved a little gas, if it were 60 feet long instead of 72?    In the month since I saw it the truck has moved south into Georgia and Alabama.  Then it will be heading west.  For more information check their website: http://www.bigidahopotato.com.  They may be coming to a parking lot near you.

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