Sweet potatoes are nature’s orange-hued, starchy candy. They’re like the ideal mate – rough and tumble on the outside, willing to get dirty, but sweet within.
Uber-healthy compared to your standard spud, you can put them in pie, dunk some in ketchup, or top with mini marshmallows. Ultimately, you can create a lot of deliciousness with these guys.
They’ve also got a lot of quirky stories to share. Here are seven you may never have heard.
1. Their Aroma Took An Entire Town Hostage
In November of last year, the community of Farmville, North Carolina (no relation to the game) experienced an emergency when an entire silo of dried sweet potato became engulfed in flames.
Natural Blend Vegetable Dehydration had firefighters pumping upwards of 26 million gallons of water into the structure to extinguish the fire. The resulting smoke wafted throughout Farmville for over three weeks. This accident demonstrated that there is, in fact, too much of a good thing.
2. A Sweet Potato Was The Lead Singer In A Band
Well, at least on the silver screen. Former American Idol contestant and Dancing with the Stars champ Kellie Pickler portrayed a tuber in the full-length film, VeggieTales: Beauty and the Beet in 2014. Her character’s name was Mirabelle.
As the lead singer of her family’s band, Mirabelle, we mean Pickler, belted out eight of the ten featured songs. Wonder if she got any produce perks at her local supermarket?
3. Sweet Potato Diets Were A Thing
Diets are nothing new. The one’s celebrities follow seem to get the most attention, though. And Korean celebs have got potatoes on their mind, as one of these weight loss plans involves copious amounts of them.
K-pop girl group Secret shared their diet that involved consuming five sweet potatoes in a week. The reasoning: low-calorie count + high in fiber and water = more frequent bathroom trips. Heck, if it works…
4. Sweet Potato Variations Are Saving The Malnourished
Researcher Sunette Laurie was on a mission to find the perfect sweet potato for farmers to harvest in South Africa. The requirements – higher dry matter content, firm texture, and sweet taste.
After testing a dozen varieties in various climates for adaptability, she narrowed it down to Purple Sunset and Implio varieties. Her efforts nourish natives with crops that counter the prevalent Vitamin A deficiency. You go, girl!
5. Musicians Make Excellent Sweet Potato Sales Reps
Ms. Patti LaBelle currently sells a line of sweet potato pies exclusively at Walmart. Thanks to a superfan, a video praising the dessert went viral with over 10 million views. It also made Patti’s pies in such high demand that the chain is in the weeds trying to keep up with orders.
However, she is not the first crooner to make a profit off the orange vegetable. Singer Lloyd Price manages Icon Food Brands, which includes Lawdy Miss Clawdy sweet potato cookies, named after his first hit.
6. Vardaman, Mississippi is the self-proclaimed “Sweet Potato Capital of the World”
The town celebrates their devotion with a week-long festival in early November. It’s been going on for 42 years and counting in the area named after James Kimble Vardaman, former Mississippi governor and senator.
Festival highlights include tractor judging, pageantry, and (of course) pie-eating contests. If you can’t wait til November, then head to Benton, Kentucky in April, where they hold a Tater Day Festival that includes a carnival, baking and canning competitions. Time for a road trip, people!
7. Sweet Potato Leaves Are Just As Nutritious As The Tuber
If sweet potatoes aren’t your thing, you may want to consider the greens (they have leaves?). Full of antioxidants, they contain over a dozen compounds that combat diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer.
Asian and Pacific Islander countries have been stir frying and putting them in salads for years. Seasonally found between May and October, their taste is less bitter than kale and chard. Toss some in your next smoothie, and reap the Vitamin C and riboflavin benefits.