Fact checked: The Potatoes became the first vegetable to be grown in space in 1995.
The potato is from the perennial *Solanum tuberosum.* It is the world’s fourth largest food crop, following rice, wheat, and maize.
History has it that the *Inca Indians* in Peru were the first to cultivate potatoes around 8,000 BC to 5,000 B.C. However, following their conquest of Peru in 1536, the Spanish Conquistadors discovered the flavors of the potato, and carried them to Europe.
Sir Walter Raleigh, English voyager and writer, introduced potatoes to Ireland in 1589 on the 40,000 acres of land near Cork. It took nearly four decades for the potato to spread to the rest of Europe.
Eventually, agriculturalists in Europe found potatoes easier to grow and cultivate than other staple crops, such as wheat and oats. Most importantly, it became known that potatoes contained most of the vitamins needed for sustenance, and they could be provided to nearly 10 people for each acre of land cultivated.
The Boom’s Period
Idaho is the present-day largest producer of potatoes. It actually did not begin growing potatoes until 1836, when the missionaries moved west in an effort to teach the native tribes to grow crops instead of relying upon hunting and gathering methods.
However, it wasn’t until 1872 when the Russet Burbank variety was developed, that the Idaho potato industry began to flourish.
In October 1995, the potato became the first vegetable to be grown in space. NASA and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, created the technology with the goal of feeding astronauts on long space voyages, and eventually, feeding future space colonies.
Discovery of the French Fries
The French King Louis Phillipe who reigned between 1830 and 1848 had a Chef named, Collinet. With all intent to serve his master, Collinet accidentally created soufflés (or puffed) potatoes by plunging already fried potatoes into extremely hot oil to reheat them when the King arrived late for dinner one night. To the chef’s surprise and the king’s delight, the potatoes puffed up like balloons.
In 1853 railroad magnate Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt complained that his potatoes were cut too thick and sent them back to the kitchen at a fashionable resort in Saratoga Springs, NY. To spite his haughty guest, Chef George Crum sliced some potatoes paper thin, fried them in hot oil, salted and served them. To everyone’s surprise, Vanderbilt loved his “Saratoga Crunch Chips,” and potato chips have been popular ever since.