Wednesday, March 25, 2009

this spud's for you

At our Monday morning sales meeting this week, one of the managers mentioned that the main chemical in Rain-X is also a chemical found in the common potato (except for a former Vice President, most people spell the word without an “e” at the end).

Out of curiosity, I cut a potato in half this afternoon, rubbed it on a portion of a car windshield, and buffed it dry.

I then took a squirt bottle of water and sprayed it on the windshield to see if it repelled water.

It did.

The main ingredient in Rain-X is silicon, and the main ingredient in potatoes is starch.

I’m not a chemist, but a review of Wikipedia sites related to potato and silicon (click on the links above) may provide a clue to the link between the two.

Although I HAVE used Rain-X in the past, the article attached below details some of the problems related to its use.

gunk on your windshield

My conclusion is that we’d all be better off using potatoes on our windshields instead of Rain-X.

I have to admit that I felt my eyes glazing over as I read through all of the chemical information listed on the silicon page, but I found the article about potatoes to be VERY interesting.

Although most of us would assume that the potato originated in either Europe or North America, the truth is that it originated in Peru nearly 10,000 years ago (about the time that beer was first brewed.)

In spite of its Peruvian roots, 99% of the potatoes grown today are descended from varieties introduced in Chile.

The potato was not introduced to Europe until 1536, and it quickly became a food staple, due to its low cast and high nutritional value.

Due to the fact that very few varieties were introduced, the crop became vulnerable to disease, which eventually led to one of the world’s worst catastrophes.

Under British rule, most of Ireland’s cash crops were exported to England and the rest of the world, forcing the Irish natives to survive on a diet heavily dependent on the humble spud (the name is derived from a 16th century digging tool called a spudder).

In 1845, blight wiped out most of the crop, which led to the Great Irish Potato Famine.

For the same reasons that potatoes became popular in Europe, they also have recently become popular in a part of the world that you might not expect:


In addition to being the largest foreign holder of our national debt, China is also now the world’s largest producer of potatoes.

Since the potato is now the world’s fourth largest food crop, the United Nations designated the year 2008 as The Year of the Potato.

Although the potato itself is packed with nutrition, the “devil is in the details”.

The potato ranks as #1 and #3 on the attached list of the worst snack foods, but I’d have to argue that deep fried candy bars would have to be included as well if they became popular in places other than Scotland (which also gave us haggis)

The potato chip originated in New York State in 1853, and was actually created in order to irritate a crabby restaurant guest at a resort in Saratoga Springs.

The French fry goes back to the 17th century. As you might suspect, the French fry did not originate in France, but in neighboring Belgium.

When I was in China, I was amazed to find McDonalds restaurants EVERYWHERE, and they were always packed with people. Strangely enough, they ALL had hand dryers made by the World Dryer Corporation of Berkley, Illinois.

You may have already heard that the McDonalds Corporation is the largest owner of real estate in the world, so in closing, I’d like to leave you with the most popular phrase in the English language:

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