Archive for September, 2009

How can anyone resist a beautiful potato?

How can anyone resist a beautiful potato?

When I saw that the U.S. Potato Board (USPB) had launched a campaign trying to reposition the potato to consumers, I was shocked. When you think of vegetables with the worst reputations, it’s always “yucky” produce like broccoli or brussels sprouts or beets— never potatoes!

Potatoes are warm, fluffy, soft, delicious and buttery. Oh. I suppose that buttery taste comes from all the butter I put on them, which maybe isn’t the healthiest thing to add to a vegetable side dish (especially when I also add sour cream, a ton of salt and possibly cheese or bacon bits).

Once I really started evaluating the potato, I came up with all the flaws I was letting slip due to my blind love. In addition to usually being fried or teamed up with high-fat ingredients, potatoes aren’t the fastest-cooking item in the pantry either. The USPB was able to identify these imperfections and come up with a creative way to present the potato in a healthier and more convenient light.

The campaign

On September 10, the USPB unveiled its plan to showcase the potato as healthy, affordable and inexpensive. The USPB revamped the top six Internet-searched-for potato recipes using low-fat ingredients like skim milk and light yogurt in place of items like whole milk and sour cream. They are:

For each recipe, there are ideas of how to change up the dish, like adding corn and ham to potato soup to create a chowder. The recipes also feature shortcuts like microwave cooking to speed up the dinner-making process for busy families.

In addition to giving consumers faster and more interesting ways of enjoying potatoes, the USPB is working on repositioning the potato as America’s go-to food in this economy. When you go to the USPB’s Potato Goodness campaign site, you are greeted by Robyn Flipse, registered dietician. In her 30-second video, she explains that a medium-sized potato is just 25 cents on average and contains more potassium than a banana. Did you know that?

A nod to the Food Network

In addition to providing written recipes including the cook time, cost-per-serving and nutritional value of each dish, the USPB has created educational videos featuring tips, techniques and demonstrations. The videos star Potato Expert Patty Mastracco, (how cool is her official title, by the way?), who shows viewers how she creates the featured recipes with ease.

While she shows off her potato-preparing skills, the recipe pops up on the screen beside her so the viewer can see the ingredient amounts she uses. Though the videos aren’t quite Food Network quality, I think this was a good way to draw in consumers who love to see how someone else makes a dish before attempting it in their own kitchens.

A twice-baked idea?

I think the USPB came up with some really great ideas while developing this campaign. It acknowledges its target audience’s needs (fast, affordable, low-fat meals) and takes creative measures in presenting itself as the solution.

With the aid of the USPB’s new recipes, the potato’s image will be squeaky-clean once more. Now if only the same thing could be said for the brussels sprout…


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