TaterGrams: New Alberta company lets you mail personalized potatoes

When a simple greeting card just can’t convey your message, maybe tubers can do the trick.

'It's basically a potato with a message on it. It's actually that simple'

TaterGrams lets customers send special messages through the mails with personalized potatos. (TaterGrams Canada)

When a simple greeting card just can't convey your message, maybe tubers can do the trick.

A new Alberta company lets you send greetings to your loved ones, or your enemies, by posting a potato in the mail.

TaterGrams Canada deliveries are for those occasions when a postcard or package just won't suffice, says company founder Wayne Rempel.

"I'm sure you get cards from people, whether it's your birthday or anniversary,  and when you get the card, it's nice. But then the average person just throws that card away," Rempel said in an interview with CBC Edmonton's Radio Active.

"But imagine if you have something on a potato. You wouldn't forget that."

"And yes, eventually you will have to throw that potato out — it won't last forever — but you're probably going to remember that experience of getting something odd and wacky in the mail."
All the potatoes are sourced locally from a Lacombe farmer. (TaterGrams Canada)
 For $9.99, plus shipping, you can send a spud with a customized message of your choice.

'Lets get mashed' and 'I only have eyes for you' are popular choices for the hand-printed messages.

"It's basically a potato with a message on it. It's actually that simple." said Rempel, who works as a car salesman in Lacombe.

"I've had a few people asking me if we can do a Christmas card sort of thing, and absolutely. Whatever you want to say in under 130 characters, we can put it on a potato."

'Lots of people like googly eyes on their potatoes'

The potato is your canvas.

For a few dollars more, you can have the tater plastered with a portrait or picture of your choice. You can even add some artistic upgrades to your starchy soliloquy.

"You can put some hearts on them, or stickers, and our most popular, googly eyes," Rempel said.

"Lots of people like googly eyes on their potatoes, we've found out."

Although the spuds may bring beautiful tidings, Rempel reminds any would-be customers that they wouldn't likely make for a tasty meal after being shipped in the mail. 

Rempel says he stumbled across the idea for his business after a friend approached him about wanting to work from home.

To help out, Rempel started researching by sitting down at his computer and typing the words, "Strange home-based business" into Google.

A potato-posting service, based in Texas, popped up on his screen and Rempel was inspired.

'I need more potatoes'

Although there are a few American companies doing it, he says there are no Canadian potato posting services. He was keen to capitalize on the idea.

"So I phoned my friend and I said, 'I know this is weird and it's crazy, and I don't know if this would ever work, but would you want to try it?'

"And she said, 'No. It will never work.' " 

Rempel decided to go it alone.

He worked out a basic business plan and reached out to a local farmer to secure a steady supply of oversized russets.

The website officially launched last Friday, and without any promotion, Rempel says the business has already sold more than four dozen custom potatoes.

Although he's decided to keep his day job for now, Rempel believes that his spud service will only continue to grow.

"All of a sudden I realized I need more potatoes. I need more boxes and wrapping paper."

"I never expected it would take off this quickly."
TaterGram messages can be customized to include all manner of decorations, including sparkly stickers and googly eyes. (TaterGrams Canada)


Wallis Snowdon is a journalist with CBC Edmonton focused on bringing stories to the website and the airwaves. Originally from New Brunswick, Wallis has reported in communities across Canada, from Halifax to Fort McMurray. She previously worked as a digital and current affairs producer with CBC Radio in Edmonton. Share your stories with Wallis at wallis.snowdon@cbc.ca.

With files from Elizabeth Hames