There’s gold in them hills

It may have escaped your notice that we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the invention of the Yukon Gold potato this year, so I feel it is my duty to bring it to your attention. You might think the Yukon Gold is just another piece of produce that finds its way into your kitchen on a regular basis. You would be wrong. There are many things about this variety of potato that distinguish it above its spud peers. Here are some of them, as well as some random facts that will improve your potato IQ.

1. When it was born, via a cross between a Peruvian variety and a potato commonly grown in North Dakota, the Yukon Gold was called the G6666. This represents its place of birth (Guelph), number on the list of potato creations for the year (66) and year of its inception (1966). We can perhaps be thankful that it wasn’t the sixth attempt at potato cloning, but even more illuminating is the fact it was the 66th. Who knew that much scientific effort goes into finding the Holy Grail of potato? Which raises all kinds of questions about how we choose to allocate our brain power. But I digress.

2. Your first clue might be the name, but the Yukon Gold is a Canadian invention. However, it is grown throughout North America, which may be why Hillary Clinton sparked an international incident by announcing that the entire menu at a White House dinner was American when the star starch was Yukon Golds. Despite its alien status, the potato variety is apparently a mainstay in the White House kitchen and was served to our own Prime Minister at a recent State Dinner hosted by the Obamas. In fact, it has a broad celebrity pedigree via being served at Academy Awards dinners (Wolfgang Puck is a big Yukon Gold proponent), although maybe it was more admired than consumed by the paleo diet aficionados that frequent those events.

3. And speaking of diets, according to the PEI Potato Board (and they should know these things), sales of potatoes fell 30% between 2004 and 2014. The PPB also reports there are 150 potato varieties floating around in Canada but clearly the Yukon Gold is taking an unfair plate-share because of its pleasingly yellow hued flesh and versatility. This has given rise to Yukon Gold fraud, where grocery stores try to pass off imitators as real G6666s. So don’t just fling those potatoes in your shopping cart without inquiring about true provenance. And I thought fake parmesan cheese was the height of deception!

4. Although it was born in 1966, the Yukon Gold only hit the market in 1980. At first I found this surprising but on second thought the Yukon Gold is a very 1980s product. I quote from Wikipedia: “1980s fashion had heavy emphasis on expensive clothes and fashion accessories. Apparel tended to be very bright and vivid in appearance. Women expressed an image of wealth and success through shiny costume jewelry, such as large faux-gold earrings.” I rest my case.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *