The team at Northgate González Market in Southern California recently made final preparations for the culmination of the grocer’s six-month mission to build the world’s largest Idaho potato display. Pallets? Check. Spuddy Buddies? Check. 100,000-plus pounds of Idaho potatoes? Check.
But the real hopes of Northgate, the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC) and Melissa’s Produce lay in their ultimate weapon: “the ‘bulging biceps’ of IPC’s Kent Beesley, long heralded for his mighty muscles in the commission’s superhero retail marketing campaign,” according to the groups. Or not.
“I wish I really did have muscles like my cartoon alter-ego,” joked Beesley, IPC’s retail promotion director, West. “But we had such a great group of people planning and working on the display that it only took us eight hours to build. And it’s literally stopping the shoppers in their tracks—they can’t believe how enormous the entire display is and how many Idaho potatoes are all in one place.”
The IPC, Northgate González Market and its specialty vendor, Melissa’s Produce, promoted the heavyweight Idaho potato display extensively via traditional and social media, beginning with the four-hour launch event late last month. The kickoff featured more than 30 chefs and bloggers who came to see the display and learn more about the spuds that inspired it, and a live morning television show broadcast on Telemundo. Shoppers were treated to samples of Creamy Chipotle Salad made with Melissa’s Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes, and many also struck a pose on a potato couch for a custom photo framed by a giant Instagram card. In addition, the store’s circular for opening week advertised special promotional prices for 10-pound Idaho potato bags.
Senior produce executives at Northgate initially dreamed up the idea of toppling the previous world-record potato display (92,500 pounds in Canada in 2012), selecting Idaho potatoes because of the premium tubers’ popularity with the company’s customers. In fact, recent IPC research found that the majority of Hispanics say they have seen/heard of and used Idaho potatoes, and eight in 10 Hispanics specifically select Idaho branded potatoes at least some of the time when they buy russets.
The 10 couches—constructed of 10-pound Idaho potato bags, were built around the perimeter. Each was then filled with Idaho product, including bulk Idaho russet, red and gold potatoes, and a variety of Melissa’s potatoes.
Northgate built the giant display as part of the Idaho Potato Commission’s 25th annual Potato Lover’s Month Retail Display Contest, which the grocer has participated in for many years.