A New Zealand couple who thought they’d unearthed the world’s largest potato have been dealt a bitter blow. Turns out what they believed was a giant spud isn’t a potato at all.
After Colin and Donna Craig-Brown submitted a sample of their find to the Science & Advice for Scottish Agriculture for DNA testing so that they could claim their spot in the Guinness World Records they were alarmed to discover that what they’d harvested was a hard-shelled fruit or gourd belonging to the pumpkin, squash or zucchini family.
The huge 7,9kg tuber caused a worldwide sensation after Colin and Donna unearthed it while weeding their garden late last year.
“It’s been a real roller coaster of potato-rama,” says a disappointed Colin.
Initially when they found it they thought it was a giant puffball, also known as a fungal growth, but after much prodding they concluded it was a potato.
“We couldn’t believe it,” Donna says. “It was just huge.”
“It was one of nature’s pleasant surprises,” Colin adds.
The couple affectionately named the potato Doug and took it around their town so other residents could admire it.
And after doing their research and discovering the current holder of the world’s largest potato title is a British spud weighing 5kg that was unearthed in 2011, they decided to lodge their own claim for Guinness World Record glory.
But now that their application has been disqualified on the grounds it isn’t a real potato they’re trying to “rationalise” how the mistake occurred. They say they sampled a piece of their find and it tasted like the real deal.
“If it quacks like a duck, swims like a duck and has feathers on it, then it must be a duck,” Colin says. “But nah – this one turned out to be a turkey.”
Although he’s disappointed, there are no hard feelings.
“We hopped on the roller coaster eyes wide open and enjoyed the ride and this was the last real twist.”
Before unearthing Doug, he and Donna were oblivious to the fact they had a massive tuber growing in their garden. Colin believes the plant might’ve self-sown itself and been there for a couple of years.
“I didn’t know what he was till I jammed the garden fork into him and dragged him out of the ground and gave him a bit of a scratch and a poke and tasted him.”
The brown mutant tuber, which Colin describes as a “nasty-looking thing”, weighs roughly the same as a couple of sacks of regular potatoes or one small dog.
After he was discovered, Doug became an overnight sensation in the small community with the couple towing him around in a custom-made cart so their neighbours could get a good look at him.
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“We put a hat on him. We put him on Facebook, taking him for a walk, giving him some sunshine,” Colin says. “It’s all a bit of fun. It’s amazing what entertains people.”
The couple initially planned to use Doug to make vodka, estimating he would yield a bottle or two. Colin is now investigating if the non-potato, which has been stored in the freezer, can be made into some kind of beverage.
Meanwhile he hasn’t given up hope of one day breaking the record for the biggest potato ever harvested.
“I’m really gonna give it my all and have a go at growing the biggest potato in the world,” he says.