Hi All! Here is a photo of a woman who is supposed to be Miss Idaho Potato 1935. The photo is circulating on the internet. The pix was sent to us by Corinne R. who wanted to see if the photo is the real deal.
I sent it off to the Idaho Potato Commission. They tasked food expert Don Odiorne with finding the truth behind the photo. Here is his answer:
"First off, the picture of a young woman seemingly buried in a sea of potatoes and labeled Miss Idaho, Potato Photoshoot 1935 gets shared all the time but no one to my knowledge has the background on it. In the thirties, Idaho was only producing 7% of the total USA production and was not associated with potatoes as much the leaders back East from Maine and New York. Similar shots were done with Marilyn Monroe, who in 1948 was crowned the first “Artichoke Queen” of Castroville California.
Most of the potato queen photos on the internet can be traced back to a search for “strange beauty queens” and pageants. Idaho was frequently listed along with Miss Blueberry Queen, Miss Donut Week, Miss Lemon, Miss Mink, Miss Atomic Bomb, Miss Correct Posture, National Catfish Queen, etc. It’s more likely that the date is transposed, as 1953 which seemed to be the high point for PR agents to promote a pretty woman in a beauty contest with a fruit, vegetable or protein product.
While the Miss America contest started in 1921, it was pretty well phased out during the depression. According to their web site, in 1935 a new contest called the “Showman’s Variety Jubilee” did have 52 contestants but only represented 11 states and forty-one cities, so it is unlikely that Idaho participated, as it was more of a regional NE event.
Contestants representing Miss Idaho USA go back on the internet to 1952. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miss_Idaho_USA
Sorry I can’t confirm that there was a contest or queen in 1935 from Idaho representing potatoes at a state fair or any other beauty contest."
Idaho Potato Commission
Thanks, Don, for the research and giving us an answer to the question of the validity of the photo.
If there is ANYBODY out there who knows more about this photo and can give real provenance, we'd be so happy to hear from you!
NOTE: The annual Spud Days celebration that takes place the 3rd Saturday in September has a Miss Russet pageant. Spud Days has been held every year for a long time -- in fact, 2018 will be its 90th year! I am trying to see if this photo could have come from that event.
Again, let us know if any of you know anything helpful about the photo.
Look what showed up in our box of spuds today! This potato weighs more than 2 pounds! This is Cindy, our gift shop manager. She was nice enough to "model" the potato for the photo. The potato comes from one of the 50 lb. boxes we purchase for the museum's café for bakers and fries. This box was purchased from GPOD, located just outside of Shelley. What a beaut! http://gpodpotatoes.com/history/
Katerina Nikolas let us know that she included the Idaho Potato Museum in her book, "Goatly Goings On." I haven' had the chance to purchase the book yet to read it but I guess the characters go on vacation to Idaho and visit the museum where they have a parrot who has a little too much in the gift shop! This is so cool for the museum! Here is the link to the book: myBook.to/Goatly Thank you Katerina for sharing your book with us!
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