What could be more Idaho than a museum about potatoes? A state that produces about 13 billion pounds of potatoes per year needs a museum dedicated to that delightful tuber. That’s what the good folks in Blackfoot, Idaho decided when they opened the Idaho Potato Museum.
Blackfoot is in the heart of Idaho potato-producing country. The museum tells why potatoes were able to come to Idaho, why potatoes were eaten, and how they got so popular. You’ll learn all about the production of spuds, how they farm them and where they go after they are harvested.
It’s a small museum dedicated to all things “potato.” Highlights of the museum include antique farming and sorting equipment, a massive potato masher collection, a 1,600-year-old tuber-storing vessel from Peru, and “free taters for out-of-staters.” There is also the world’s largest potato chip—a 24 x 14 inch Pringle listed in the Guinness World Records and an interesting video on the McDonald’s French fries.
My favorite part of the museum has to be the “potato family” presentation in the “potato cellar.” This consists of a cartoon-like father, mother, and baby potato family projected onto pillows in a makeshift potato cellar. While most of the exhibit involves the father potato explaining how potatoes are grown, harvested, and stored the most memorable portion of the area is the mother potato singing the potato song. It’s crazy, memorable, and incredibly catchy. Once you hear the song you’ll sing the chorus for days….potato, potato, potato!
The museum itself is hard to miss: just look for the giant baked potato sculpture out front. (It makes a great vacation photo op.) The gift shop in the front had funny t-shirts, gunnysack clothing, and potato-related items.
The museum was not our destination but a stop on our way to Yellowstone National Park. We were looking for lunch but found the museum (who can miss the giant baked potato.) There is a cafe at the museum. You could build your own baked potato, get potato chocolate milk and get an ice cream baked potato! We opted not to eat at the museum cafe but we asked the museum staff for another recommendation for lunch. They suggested Rupe’s Burger which was almost right next door.
Rupe’s is both a drive-in as well as a sit-down restaurant. This place is quintessential Idaho—a small town burger joint displaying lots of local memorabilia collected for years. (The family-owned restaurant has been around since the 50’s.) On our visit it looked like the whole town had shown up to eat lunch there.
I ordered their specialty—the All-American Burger—with tater tots, and a chocolate milkshake. (Surprisingly, the All-American Burger had Canadian bacon on it. It was tasty but I just thought it was ironic.) The tater tots were the frozen variety. The chocolate shake was yummy and was the star of my meal.
The Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot is definitely a great stop in Idaho!