World’s largest potato may not be a tater at all [Updated]

A New Zealand couple was asked to submit proof of their giant spud's unmodified DNA.

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potatoes in box
Photo: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images (Getty Images)

Update, January 24, 2021: Remember Doug the Spud? New Zealanders Colin and Donna Craig-Brown unearthed the massive potato in their garden last year, and they were sure they had a winner on their hands. The tater weighed in at 17.4 pounds, more than six pounds heavier than the current Guinness World Record holder for heaviest potato. Doug was a star—but now, Guinness officials aren’t convinced that Dough is a tater at all.

Colin Craig-Brown told The Times that, despite their careful work consulting “experts and agronomists and field scientists,” he and Donna have been asked to send a chunk of Doug to researchers at Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA). There, Doug will undergo DNA testing and genetic analysis to prove that the potato is, in fact, a potato.

“It’s been a rollercoaster of emotion,” Colin told The Times, referring to officials’ suspicion that he genetically modified the tuber. “While it’s extremely deflating, I want to prove them wrong. We will do everything they ask of us.”

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In the meantime, the potato lives in the Craig-Browns’ freezer. The Times notes that the tater has, unfortunately, started to mold, and it’s also lost a small amount of weight. Justice for Doug!

Original post, November 5, 2021: Owning something that can be described as the “world’s largest” anything is probably pretty awesome. Which is why learning that a couple in New Zealand is a likely owner of the world’s largest potato, is a delightful thing to read about. AP News reports that Colin and Donna Craig-Brown in New Zealand may very well be the owners of the biggest potato in the world, and they named it “Doug.”

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Colin made the discovery when he was weeding the garden one day. His hoe hit a large object just beneath the soil, and after poking around the mysterious plant for a bit with his wife, Donna, he finally scraped part of it off and tasted it. It had the unmistakeable flavor of a potato.

Donna said to AP News, “We couldn’t believe it. It was just huge.”

There’s a photo of Donna holding it in the AP piece, and it’s definitely a bit of a strange-lookin’ piece of produce. I liken the potato as looking sort of like a thoughtful walrus.

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After weighing it and finding out it was 17.4 pounds, they decided to name it Doug, after the way they “dug” it out. (I have to point out that this is adorable.) The current Guinness World Record holder for heaviest potato is from 2011 in the UK, that came in just shy of 5 kg, or 11 pounds. Doug’s a big boy! The couple is waiting to hear back from Guinness to see if Doug can be now recognized as the world’s heaviest potato child.

Colin built Doug a small cart, and they decided to pull the potato around for fun. He said, “We put a hat on him. We put him on Facebook, taking him for a walk, giving him some sunshine. It’s all a bit of fun. It’s amazing what entertains people.”

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Does Colin have any advice for future big-boy potato growers? Not really. They hadn’t even planted Doug where he’d been discovered. The area where they dug (Doug) it out was where they had been growing cucumbers, which are not potatoes, so that means Doug was self-sown. It’s likely Doug had been there for a few years, at the very least, based off its size.

Unfortunately, Doug’s got some health problems, as it eventually started drying out, losing weight, and growing mold. Colin said, “He was getting a bit pongy,” meaning Doug was getting a little stinky. So for now, Doug lives in the freezer. Does it still have its hat on to shield it from the cold?

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The Craig-Browns aren’t quite finished with Doug, however. Colin distills alcohol in his spare time, and might turn the giant walrus-looking tater into vodka. So Doug might live on... in spirit form. This may be the greatest pun I’ve ever written.