When is a giant potato not a giant potato?

A: When it's the tuber of a gourd!
Potato or not, Dug is huge! (Donna Craig-Brown)

Back in November 2021, we wrote a story about a New Zealand couple—Colin and Donna Craig-Brown—who believed that they had made a truly enormous discovery.

The world's heaviest, largest potato!

Nicknamed Doug—or Dug, for how he was unearthed—this giant potato was a worldwide news sensation. And quite tasty, according to a slice that Colin trimmed off in curiosity. All that remained was to receive documentation from Guinness World Records that their 7.8 kg (17.2 lbs) pet tater was a record holder. And now the documentation is finally in.

But Dug is NOT a potato!

Mashed dreams

Sweet potatoes are a type of tuber. (Wikimedia Commons)

No! Say it's not so!

DNA testing of Dug has revealed that it is in fact a tuber of a gourd and not a true potato. (Gourds are plants such as squash and pumpkin.) This makes some sense, since all potatoes are tubers, but not all tubers are potatoes.

A tuber is a very expanded root of a plant. While most root systems are reasonably thin and winding, plants with tubers have root systems that are dominated by a big, central section. Other tubers that we eat include sweet potatoes, yams, taro, jicama, and cassava. (Taproots are similar to tubers, but not identical—these include carrots, parsnips, beets, turnips, and radishes.)

Not a potato, still a star

Colin Craig-Brown takes Dug for a stroll. (Donna Craig-Brown)

So Dug is not a giant potato, and it is not a Guinness World Record holder. But that doesn't mean that he's not a huge star! At least he is to Colin, Donna, and their family.

Currently, Dug lives in their freezer and will stay there for now (though he does get taken out for the odd walk).

"I say, 'g'day,' to him every time I pull out some sausages," Colin told CBC Radio. "Whenever the grandchildren come round, they say, 'Can we see Dug?'"

Who can blame them? No matter what he is, Dug is something special. And he may have giant company in the future. Colin told CBC that he is dedicated to growing the world's biggest potato for real in the future. Maybe Dug can offer some tips to the that tuber about being larger-than-life!

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