For God’s Sake, Stay Away From European Potato Fields

A potato chip factory worker found a grenade in the tater line. That kind of discovery is more common than you think.

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Photo: LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP (Getty Images)

Potatoes and grenades have much in common. Both are vaguely ovular. Both can be deep-fried. Both can be thrown at the enemy. And both wound up in a New Zealand chip factory production line earlier this week, when a worker initially mistook a rusty grenade for a large, dirty potato. Turns out, grenades pop up in potato fields on a fairly regular basis—especially in Europe.

What’s a grenade like you doing in a chip factory like this?

The Guardian reports that New Zealand’s bomb squad was called into a chip factory Tuesday “after a suspicious-looking potato trundling down the production line turned out to be a grenade.” The weapon showed up in a Mr. Chips factory in Auckland but was initially dug up at a potato farm in New Zealand’s Matamata region.

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Night shift worker Richard Teurukura reportedly pulled the device from a “potato reception area,” where he was sorting through a shipment of about 100,000 potatoes. At first, he thought the grenade was a muddy stone—but upon inspecting it further and consulting with a colleague who had “seen a lot of war movies,” Teurukura stopped the conveyer belt and removed the object from the production line. He then placed it in a cordoned-off area until a bomb disposal team could arrive on the scene. Teurukura’s manager is now hoping to reclaim the bomb and place it in the factory’s “trophy room.” (What else... is in there?)

Per The Guardian, the grenade in question was a roughly 80-year-old British-made “Mills bomb” hand grenade. Apparently, that type of grenade was widely used in the first and second world wars, and they pop up frequently in potato fields in Europe. A few years ago, a similar grenade was found in a French potato shipment. It makes sense; as Winston Churchill said, World War II was fought “in the fields and in the streets.” The weapons left behind in the conflict have likely burrowed a few feet under the ground by now—down to potato level, if I’m not mistaken.

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Let this be a lesson to you: If you’re messing around in international potato fields, make sure you’ve got the bomb squad on speed dial.