The story about the french guy who made potatoes famous.

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We adore them.

It’s estimated that a single American eats over one-hundred pounds of potatoes each year.

In a variety of ways…

We like them hashed, pancaked, Gnocchied, wedged, Au Gratined, fried, totted, waffled, roasted, mashed, stuffed, baked, curried and hasselbacked.

What the hell is hasselback?

(Your guess is as good as mine.)

But, believe it or not, potatoes haven’t always been the wildly popular vegetable they are today.

Or, at least not in France during the mid-1500s.

The French viewed potatoes as food fit for hogs, literally. And, some of the more superstitious thought the weird tubes the spuds sprouted caused leprosy.

In fact, they were so widely hated that the French Parliament actually banned them in 1748.

Thankfully, a guy named Antoine-Augustin Parmentier went to prison.

Sometime around the spud-ban a French military pharmacist by the name of Antoine-Augustin Parmentier was captured by the Prussians, imprisoned and “forced” to eat potatoes.

Naturally, after not starving to death nor developing leprosy, he realized they weren’t at all “hog feed”.

When he was eventually released from his shackles, Parmentier became a man on a mission — he wanted to show all of France just how wildly delicious potatoes were.

He tried to win over the public by hosting elaborate potato dinners, with guests the likes of Benjamin Franklin in attendance.

And, he even went so far as to craft a bouquet of potato flowers to give to the King and Queen of France.

Unfortunately, Parmentier found little success.

How do you say “try-hard” in French?

Fortunately, for all of our tastebuds, he had some marketing chops…

In 1781, Parmentier planted a shit ton of potatoes on a patch of land gifted to him by King Louis XVI. He then hired heavily armed guards to “guard” the potatoes but not guard them well.

Parmentier told his guards to let thieves steal them and that if any of the potato bandits offered a “bribe”, he instructed them to take it no matter how big nor how small.

This was when potatoes in France caught fire.

By positioning potatoes as a heavily-guarded “royal” food, Parmentier was able to add an air of exclusivity to the spud.

The moral of the story?

If you’re having difficulty pushing your product or service, try to make it “harder” for folks to get their hands on it.

People want what they can’t have. People want exclusivity.

But, I digress.

By Cole Schafer.

Stranger than fiction by Honey Copy is a curation of stories about bat shit crazy marketing ideas that have made brands some serious cheddar. If this story made your mouth water, why not let me tell you when I write the next one?

Originally published at on June 5, 2020.

Written by

I write pretty words and sometimes sell things.

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