Doug was on track to earn a Guinness World Record for largest potato until a DNA test revealed some startling news. Last year, a New Zealand couple, Colin and Donna Craig-Brown, were gardening when they stumbled into what resembled a massive potato. Obviously, it was quite a surprise considering the couple, who run a farm, didn’t plant potatoes. The “potato,” which they called Doug, weighed a baffling 17.4 pounds. But this big boy didn’t just look like a heap of starchy goodness, the Craig-Browns also tried a little bit of it and it certainly tasted like a raw potato. Doug was, by all reasonable indications, a potato. But here’s where things get interesting.
This is Doug. Doug weighs 17.4 pounds, and looks and feels very much like a big potato.— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 17, 2022
A New Zealand couple found Doug, submitted an application for “the world’s heaviest potato,” sat back and waited. But then the results of a DNA analysis came in. https://t.co/h13Of0Uv8P
Relaying Doug’s discovery to The New York Times, where we first saw this exciting news, Colin said, “I had a big hoe in my hand, and it went, ‘clonk,’” “I said to my wife, ‘What the hell’s that?’ I got a great big four-pronged garden fork and laid into it, like an over-excited Viking warrior. I thrust my foot deep into the earth, dragged this thing out, kicking and screaming. It was the size of a rubbish bin lid.”
As one does when a rather large vegetable turns up in the garden, the couple submitted it to the Guinness Book of World Records at the behest of friends and family astonished by Doug’s size. Their application was for the World’s Heaviest Potato title. The reigning champion belongs to a British man named Peter Glazebrook. He nabbed the title in 2011 with a potato weighing 10 lb 14 oz. So suffice to say, at a whopping 17.4 lbs, Doug would blow the nearly 11 lb current victor out of the fryer.
Unfortunately, Doug is ineligible for the World Record as he is not a potato at all. But rather, a gourd. Along with the application, the Craig-Browns submitted a sample of Doug, which was analyzed by the folks over at Guinness. And the DNA confirmed Doug is actually “the tuber of a type of gourd.”
Naturally this added another mystifying layer to the potato-gourd situation. The Craig-Browns didn’t plant any potatoes, sure, but they also didn’t plant gourds either. However, Colin did have an interesting theory on the matter.
“There was a stage where I was growing these hybridized cucumbers, right where Doug appeared,” he said. “During a hybridization process, who’s to say they didn’t crossbreed it with a gourd plant to give it tremendous disease resistance or prolific flowering?”
This whole situation, while not remotely similar at all, reminds me of a children’s book my family had growing up. Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato, follows the titular Irish farmer, who is extremely lazy and doesn’t want to farm. But after receiving a seed from a leprechaun, he suddenly ends up with an overwhelmingly big potato. One I’m sure would probably make it into the Guinness World Records if the O’Rourkes submitted it. ( Strega Nona creator Tomie dePaola wrote this book too, and 10/10 would recommend it.)
Doug may not be a potato, after all, but he is a hero to the Craig-Browns—and honestly, to us all. As Colin told the Times, “He’s a pretty cool character, aye.”