Sunday, October 23, 2005

Spuddy Character Cloaks Unhealthiness Of Potatoes

Spuddy is the Ronald McDonald of the potato industry

This Twin Falls, ID-based Times-News op-ed story by Steve Crump takes a look at the rebirth of a fun-loving icon of the potato industry that went away for a while but has recently publicly returned since Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. filed for bankruptcy in August.

His name is Spuddy and he was the creation of the Idaho Potato Commission. Although this mascot for the potato industry may be a cute representative for their product, it still does not diminish the fact that eating too many potatoes is just not a good idea when you are trying to manage your weight. They are an unhealthy part of any low-carb weight maintenance program and should be avoided if possible.

According to their own nutrition label at their web site, just ONE medium-sized Idaho potato contains a whopping 26g of carbohydrates for a 5.3 ounce potato. That's more carbs than what many people who are livin' la vida low-carb are allowed to consume in an entire day while they are in the weight loss phase of low-carb! While potatoes might be as American as apple pie (and you shouldn't eat that either!), they are definitely not going to help you reach weight loss success in your low-carb lifestyle. Your body doesn't need 'em!

But the potato industry doesn't care about this fact. They want you to associate happy thoughts about their product which is why they created the little Spuddy character. I liken Spuddy to Ronald McDonald (who recently got a "healthy" makeover of his own as we learn in this Julia Havey blog post) which has been used for decades to attract children to the extremely unhealthy junk food offerings provided by the Golden Arches. But kids of every age see Ronald McDonald and just go wild. Kids gotta have their Happy Meals!

In fact, Morgan Spurlock, whose Super Size Me documentary about McDonald's was a huge hit in theaters a couple of years ago, noted that more kids recognized Ronald McDonald than even popular U.S. presidents like Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, or even George W. Bush. This is a sad commentary that shockingly reveals our children don't even know who some of the most famous past and present leaders of this nation are, but also on the culture as a whole which seems to glorify images such as Ronald McDonald and Spuddy all for the sake of entertainment and profit margins.

It should make us very suspicious of the government-indoctrinated U.S. Food Pyramid we're being told to follow for "healthy living" (as well as this new kids version of it that just released!). Why is the government so gung-ho behind promoting the healthiness of products such as potatoes and sugar? Why do these industries donate so much money to the campaign coffers of politicians who seem to conveniently turn a blind eye to the negative health consequences of people consuming these products? And they wonder why more and more Americans are getting obese?

Crump kinda wonders that very question out loud in his op-ed column when he discusses seeing a picture of two Spuddy dolls in the hands of none other than our very healthy president, George W. Bush, along with other Idaho politicians.

The marketing campaign featuring Spuddy began in earnest in 2000 when Gov. Dirk Kempthorne appeared in nationwide television spots on behalf of the Idaho Potato Commission. Crump said the governor even appeared at the Salt Lake City Olympic games with Spuddy to promote "unbridled carbo-loading."

But then Spuddy suddenly became uncool in 2004 when the Atkins diet hit the height of its popularity before the media started attacking it on a daily basis as they do nowadays. Spuddy went away momentarily, but they're slowly trying to get him back out there with politicians to once again fool kids and adults into believing eating potatoes is a "healthy" way to live.

I don't have anything personally against people who grow potatoes for a living (just as I have said about the sugar industry), but even they know overconsuming their product will cause people to become overweight or obese.

As a former fan of potatoes, including french fries, mashed potatoes, potato chips, potatoes au grautin and baked potatoes, it was difficult at first to give up this food I enjoyed so much. But nearly two years later, I can tell you that I have not missed my spuds one bit and have even found that mashed cauliflower is just as good!

The best thing of all about eliminating potatoes from my diet is the fact that my weight is a lot better now in the 220's than it was when I weighed 410! Had I not given up potatoes along with sugar and white flour, then I would have never become the healthy man that I am today. Believe me when I say you will not miss potatoes because you will become so enamored by the other delectable foods you can enjoy while livin' la vida low-carb. That's been my experience and I am sure it will be yours, too.

You can e-mail Steve Crump about his very funny column at


Blogger Newbirth said...

The only thing I miss is french fries and I will endulge in them once in a while. But all other form of potatoes are pretty much banished from my healthy lifestyle.

2/26/2006 11:18 PM  

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