Chris Voigt: Potato Pimp Turned Potato Master

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I love you, too, Mutant Potato
Chris Voigt, Executive Director of the Washington State Potato Commission and the guy who willingly put himself on a nothing-but-potatoes diet in order to prove how awesome the humble spud really is--has done it. He has made it through 60 days of eating (essentially) nothing but potatoes and lived to tell the tale. At midnight tonight, his trial will be over. He will be able, once again, to eat any damn thing he wants. Chris Voigt will be a free man.

And from what I hear, what he really wants is a friggin' taco.

I wrote about Chris Voigt about a month back, when he was near the halfway point of his 60-day potato marathon and quickly becoming a media darling, with everyone from MSNBC to the Boise Weekly writing about him and his wacky stunt attempt to prove that a diet of nothing but spuds would leave him thinner, healthier and in better shape at the end of 60 days than he had been at the start. At the time, I was less concerned for his physical well-being than I was for his mental state. Even just 30 days in, the man was going a little potato-crazy. And this being 2010, he was (of course) keeping track of the entire experience on his blog, I wrote:

"Halfway through his 60 days and the posts are beginning to take on a kind of vaguely surreal edge, as though he were writing home from the depths of Conrad's jungle or Kipling's Afghanistan. There is something haunting in his fixation. His posts are brief, occasionally include recipes, and are always about potatoes.

Always. Without fail. Eating potatoes, thinking about potatoes, preparing potatoes, counting potatoes. Every day, Voigt is staring down another 20 potatoes. Every day (or almost every day) he writes about them."

And that kept on right up until the end. And while I didn't check in every day to see how things were going, I did lurk around the blog every now and then, just to see whether or not Voigt had slipped completely into Potato Madness.

Voigt posted this confession on November 19:

"Just in case I'm subjected to a lie detector test at some point, I have to come clean on 3 incidents. There were 3 separate times in the previous 50 days where I was making my kids lunch, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and without thinking, it was more of a reflex move, I licked clean the peanut or jelly that had gotten on my fingers. Its been bugging me so I needed to share."

Just before Thanksgiving, there was this:

"So many folks are wondering what I'm going to be eating for Thanksgiving. Well, the obvious answer is potatoes. But with a twist! Instead of a juicy tender turkey, I will be eating mashed potatoes that were shaped into the form of a turkey by my two kids. We will then brush the fake turkey with some oil and put it in the oven so that it will have a nice brown crisp skin, just like a real turkey. And of course my vegetable of choice will be mashed potatoes with fake gravy. We will be making fake gravy out of a bouillon cube and will use potato starch to thicken it up. And for dessert, fake pumpkin pie! We'll take some mashed potatoes, again, and color it orange with food dye, add some pumpkin pie seasoning and put it into a pie pan. Yummy!!! "

Honestly, I never thought he was going to make it. I thought he would crack at some point, and there'd be some video of him popping up on Youtube--him showing up at the front door of a Taco Bell looking all wild-eyed, with no pants on and mashed potatoes all over his shirt, demanding 10,000 beef soft tacos and a small Coke to go.

But maybe that's just me. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure that would've been me after about three days of this kind of diet. But Voigt held tough. He was a rock. And come midnight, he will have crossed the finish line in style, with mind and body intact.

So congratulations, Potato Man. You've done it. And I hope the first non-potato-based bite of food that crosses your lips at 12:01am is the greatest single bite of food you've ever had in your life.

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