They thought they had the world's largest potato. But it was no potato at all
Doug a.k.a Dug, which weighs 7.8 kilograms, turns out to be the tuber of a gourd
When is a potato not a potato? When it's a tuber of a gourd, according to Guinness World Records.
A New Zealand couple who believed they had dug up the world's largest potato in the garden of their small farm near Hamilton have had their dreams turned to mash after Guinness World Records wrote to say that scientific testing had found it wasn't, in fact, a potato after all.
Colin Craig-Brown, who first hit the tuber with a hoe last August when gardening with his wife Donna, said it sure looked and tasted like a potato. Mind you, he added, he's never tasted a gourd tuber.
"What can you say?" said Craig-Brown. "We can't say we don't believe you, because we gave them the DNA stuff."
After months of submitting photos and paperwork, the couple got the bad news from Guinness in an email last week.
"Sadly the specimen is not a potato and is in fact the tuber of a type of gourd. For this reason we do unfortunately have to disqualify the application," the email reads.
A potato is one of many different types of tubers, which are enlarged structures used to store nutrients in some plants.
The couple had named their find Doug, which they took to spelling Dug, after the way it was unearthed. The tuber became something of a local celebrity, after the couple began posting photos of it on Facebook with a hat on and even built a cart to tow it around.
"We had a hat on him because we took him out to give him a bit of sunshine one day — you know, just for the camera," Craig-Brown told CBC Radio's As It Happens in November 2021, when he still believed Dug was a potato.
"Some people reckon he looks like a baby with his hat on. But I just think he looks like a potato with a little hat sitting on top of him."
Listen: Colin Craig-Brown tells CBC Radio's As It Happens about Doug in November 2021:
An official weigh-in at a local farming store put Dug at 7.8 kilograms, equal to a couple of sacks of regular potatoes, or one small dog. The existing Guinness record will stand, a 2011 monster from Britain that weighed in at just under five kg.
Craig-Brown remains a big believer in Dug, who still sits in their freezer.
"I say, 'g'day,' to him every time I pull out some sausages. He's a cool character," Craig-Brown said. "Whenever the grandchildren come round, they say, 'Can we see Dug?'"
"Dug is the destroyer from Down Under," Craig-Brown added. "He is the world's biggest not-a-potato."
Craig-Brown said he's not done yet with chasing the potato record. Dug was self-sown, but Craig-Brown said that with all his subsequent research into giant potatoes, he's ready to try to deliberately grow a record-breaking monster next season.
And this time, he says, it will definitely be a potato.
With files from CBC Radio's As It Happens