18 Times potatoes invaded pop culture

By Aditya Madanapalle | Published on Jun 05 2019
18 Times potatoes invaded pop culture

Potatoes, you got to love them for the sheer versatility of dishes, from mashed potatoes to french fries. In technology, they are used to refer to dud pieces of hardware. If a game is not running well, for example, people point out that the server is probably a potato. Here are some instances where the humble plant invaded pop culture. 

Death Note 

In an episode of the popular Anime series Death Note, Yagami Light fools a room full of hidden cameras by hiding a piece of the Death Note book inside a packet of potato chips and writing down the names of the people he wants to kill. He then thinks “I'll Take a Potato Chip and EAT IT!” The scene became a trend on YouTube with people replicating it. 

I can count to potato

In the movie, The Ringer, Johnny Knoxville plays the role of Steve Barker, who finds a way to get rid of his debt by participating in the Special Olympics. Only thing is, there is nothing special about Barker, who has to pretend to be special and comes up with convincing phrases such as “I can count to potato”. This is a catchphrase for Barker, similar to “Life is like a box of chocolates”, and has become a meme

The Lord of the Rings

In The Two Towers, Sam explains to an incredulous Gollum the versatility of Potatoes. “Po-tay-toes! Boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew... Lovely big golden chips with a nice piece of fried fish,” Sam says. Gollum is not convinced though and continues to insist that good food is best devoured raw. 

Mr Potato Head

Mr Potato Head is an iconic American toy with removable parts, including eyes, ears, shoes, noses and mouths. The resulting combinations can end up becoming memes in their own right. There are also variations for superheroes and characters from the Star Wars universe. Mr Potato Head has also appeared in the Toy Story movies. 

Peeled: The Potato Resurrection

This is a parody of a horror movie called Peeled, with Potatoes doing all kinds of scary things from replacing pets to spurting out blood. The trailer was perhaps inspired by the 1978 film, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Don’t go looking around for the movie though, there isn’t one, all we have is the kickass trailer. 

Plants vs Zombies

Plants vs Zombies used the potato as a weapon that exploded onto zombies when they walked over it. The Potato Mine has to be planted in the path of the zombies and takes a bit of time to rearm after it has been used. George Fan, a senior game designer at PopCap, says he was inspired by the movie Swiss Family Robinson while creating the Potato Mine. 

Portal 2

In Portal 2, the personality of GLaDOS is put into a potato battery. GLaDOS then uses this to put the problems of the protagonist in perspective, saying, “Oh hi, how are you holding up? BECAUSE I'M A POTATO” in her typical dry, sarcastic tone. Also, Portal 2 was promoted through an ARG title known as “Potato Sack”. 

Potato Parcel

Potatoparcel is a website that lets you mail potatoes to people, with the stamps attached directly to the potato. The website also lets you add a custom message on top of the potato, or even a printed photo. Considering the ink used and the bacteria accumulated over the journey, the site recommends that you do not consume the potatoes. 

Potato Salad Kickstarter

One of the most successful Kickstarters of all time started off as a joke, with a guy just wanting to make a potato salad. The stretch goal was for $110, which included a recipe book, a t-shirt and a hat, along with a photo of the creator, Zack Danger Brown making the potato salad. The Potato Salad Kickstarter managed to raise over $55,000. 

Recorded on a Potato

Potatoes have become a stand-in for low-performance hardware of all kind and are not just restricted to computers or servers. The comments sections of YouTube videos of low quality may have comments that note that the video was “recorded on a potato”. Shown above is an illustration of what the recording device could look like. 

Shakespeare

In the comedy titled “The Merry Wives of Windsor”, the bard immortalised potatoes, which were then just finding their way into Europe. Falstaff, a cowardly knight who appears in several Shakespeare plays, while wearing a deer’s head, proclaims, “Let the sky rain potatoes”. 

Sir Francis Drake

Sir Francis Drake was allegedly the man who introduced the potato to Europe, bringing in the crop from South America. In 1853, Andreas Friedrich erected a monument in the town of Offenburg in Germany, depicting Drake with a handful of potatoes. Unfortunately, the statue was torn down during World War II. 

Spudnik

Ross goes for a Halloween Costume based on a really obscure pun combining a potato and Sputnik, the Russian satellite, to become “Spudnik”. Of course, Joey thinks he just dressed up as poop, Monica corrects him saying its space poop, and Chandler is glad that he does not have the worst costume in the room any more. 

Steamboat Willie

In the Mickey Mouse debut animation, Steamboat Willie, the captain of the boat punishes Mickey Mouse for all his antics by throwing him into a room with a potato bin and tasks him with peeling all the potatoes. Mickey Mouse is rather unenthusiastic about this, and “peels” the potatoes by cutting away most of them. 

The Martian

In The Martian, Mark Watney is separated from his crew and stranded on Mars because of a dust storm. In isolation, Watney finds a way to grow potatoes on Mars, finding ingenious ways to water the plant. He develops a love-hate relationship with the crop. NASA has actually grown potatoes in space, calling them Quantum Tubers

The Potato Eaters

One of the masterpieces of Vincent Van Gough, “The Potato Eaters” shows a scene of ugly peasants enjoying a hearty meal consisting of potatoes. He wanted to depict the harsh realities of life in the countryside and used earthy colours only. The scene was chosen by Van Gough because of how complex it was to depict. 

Uncyclopedia

Uncyclopedia is a crowdsourced parody encyclopedia, with the parody extending deep into how the website is structured and edited. There are five pillars for editorials and a “pee review” instead of a peer review. The logo of the website is the Wikipedia globe, but with a potato instead. Apparently, the logo symbolises “mental softness and dead Irishmen.” 

Warframe

Warframe has items for increasing the mod capacity of frames or weapons, called Orokin Reactors and Orokin Catalysts. The designs of these items have some superficial resemblance to potatoes, which made the community start referring to them as Golden Potatoes and Blue Potatoes. The official merch store has a Golden Potato t-shirt

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Aditya Madanapalle

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