Why is Idaho called the Potato State?

Each state in the U.S. has a nickname (both official and unofficial) that they wear with pride.

Krajobraz Idaho

Hawaii is known as the Aloha State, Arizona the Grand Canyon State, Florida the Sunshine State. But when you get to Idaho, you realize it’s best known as…the Potato State. Do Americans hate Idaho? Not at all!

Officially, Idaho is known as the Gem State, but it’s the potato that most Americans identify Idaho with. Americans love their spuds and Idaho’s rich, volcanic soil and mild climate make it the ideal place to grow the perfect potato. The potato is actually Idaho’s state vegetable!
Idaho takes pride in the potato and the knowledge that 97% of Americans put it on their plate. “Scenic Idaho, Famous Potatoes” is stamped on Idaho license plates and there’s an Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot. There’s even an Idaho Potato Commission responsible for marketing the potato and protecting Idaho potatoes’ interests (the popular Russett potato can be grown anywhere in the U.S. but the Commission certifies those grown specifically in Idaho so consumers know they’re getting Idaho quality taters).
But you don’t have to travel all the way to Idaho to get a taste of this famous spud. These potatoes are so tasty that McDonald’s uses only Idaho Russett potatoes for its fries. If you’ve ever been in an American McDonald’s, you’ve probably tried a famous Idaho potato!



  • nickname – a name different from your official name, but what family or friends call you.
  • aloha – used in Hawaii to say hello or goodbye
  • gem – a valuable stone usually used in jewelry
  • spud – another name for a potato
  • scenic – having or relating to a nice view of natural landscape
  • license plate – an official metal plate with letters and numbers used to identify vehicles
  • tater – another name for a potato
  • tasty – having good flavor and pleasing to eat

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