Put down that expensive bag of frozen potatoes — the cheap, fresh ones are just steps away! Seriously, potatoes are really easy to prepare, inexpensive and available year-round, which is why the U.S. Potato Board is potato-launching a fleet of decked-out Spud Nation food trucks across America as part of its new mobile marketing program. A potato-centric billboard probably won’t do the trick. See, the potato has developed a bad rap in the past couple of decades as a deep-fried, dairy-smothered, bacon- and salt-studded convenience food (or worse, a carb), when in fact it’s a wholesome starch packed with vitamins that’s just begging to be prepared in the simple ways that made it a staple of the American diet in the first place. The Spud Nation trucks seek to reform potatoes’ wayward image from the crinkle-cut back to the famously reliable tuber.
Debuted at the 2016 Potato Expo in Las Vegas earlier this month with a recipe competition, the Spud Nation trucks will be helmed by chef partners or other culinary entrepreneurs vetted through the U.S. Potato Board. The original truck currently services Denver. While the trucks’ menus aren’t devoid of fried treats (you can’t just not serve curly fries out of a potato-centric food truck), other offerings will showcase the versatility and rib-stickingness of the humble ingredient, like gnocchi and chowder. Need to increase fresh potato sales? A food truck should do the trick.
Also in the works from the board: more real potatoes in public schools! Just because the “fries as fuel” approach is halfway out the door doesn’t mean taters are off the table entirely. It’s the organizers’ hope that as schools transition back to a “from-scratch” menu, they’ll incorporate potatoes into salad bars, Thai-style curries, healthful potato salads (step away from the mayo) and perhaps even the standard baked potato of yore, which needs nothing more than a sprinkle of chives and dollop of sour cream. Or Greek yogurt — hey, it’s 2016, after all.