Writing about the Adirondacks while living outside Boston offers a unique set of challenges. When I want to learn something new about the Adirondacks, it typically involves researching the topic. New information doesn’t often find its way into my everyday life. Imagine my surprise then, when walking through my local farmers market I stumble upon bins of “Adirondack Potatoes”. I grew up in the Adirondacks, and yet I had never heard of there being a regional potato. Why hadn’t I known they existed? Was this some special regional variety? Why did it take moving almost 300 miles away to discover them? The answer to all of these questions was, of course, marketing.
The Adirondack Potato comes in two varieties, the Adirondack Blue and the Adirondack Red. The red variety has a purplish-red outside and vibrant pink inside. They will make a lovely pink mash or a darker red roasted (remember this for next year’s Valentine’s Dinner). It’s sibling, the blue, has a more purple skin and shows similar color variations based on preparation. The blue has even been chosen to represent Penn State in potato chip form.
So why is marketing partially responsible for my prior potato ignorance? The Adirondack potatoes are not in fact a traditional regional variety as I had assumed. I did not eat them as a kid because simply, they did not exist. The Adirondack Blue was developed by scientists at Cornell University in 2003, with its Red counterpart being released shortly after. “Wait a second!” you say, “Cornell isn’t in the Adirondacks!”. The name was actually chosen as a marketing device to sell more potatoes. Despite my disappointment in hearing this, I find I can forgive them for adopting the Adirondack “brand” since it helps a little bit of the Adirondacks infiltrate farmers markets everywhere and their intent to support local produce practices.
My first thought when I heard about these Red and Blue Adirondack Potatoes was definitely, Red White and Blue potato salad. Lo and behold, the culinary institute of america CIA beat me too it. If you have any other creative ideas for these colorful spuds, I would love to hear them in the comments!