Mr. Potato Head

Though the French had a series of revolutions, these were never directed against strong governments. Under Louis XIV and XV, they accepted the most outrageous degrees of royal exploitation, waste, arrogance, intolerance, and immorality without a murmur. But when the throne fell into the hands of Louis XVI, a perfectly charming, impotent, humble, and well-meaning king whose greatest extravagance was his tender affection for flowers, they at last staged the revolution that still overwhelms posterity.

Peoples never revolt against tyrants. They only revolt against the weak.

—Leopold Kohr, The Breakdown Of Nations

When potatoes jumped from the “new” world to the “old,” some of the more far-seeing potentates of the latter saw that spuds could go far in feeding the European continent’s poor choppeople. Who had, and for centuries, previously tried to staple-survive on such bitter fruit as chestnuts.

But, for reasons passeth contemporary understanding, the masses were, in the main, averse to these new-fangled, new-world potatoes. Believing, among other things, that they spread leprosy.

To try to get around this popular prejudice, Louis XVI, of France, dedicated one of his royal farms, at Les Sablons in Neuilly, to the planting of potatoes. And by day he ringed this farm with guards bristling with rifles, with fixed bayonets.

By night, however, this guard was mostly, intentionally, subtly withdrawn.

The common people, with their eyes always affixed on royal doings, soon sussed that if the king was growing and eating potatoes, and even guarding them, potatoes must be okay—even great!—for them too.

So they stole, by night, into the king’s fields, and there they stole potatoes. And then planted them for themselves.

Just as the king wished them to.

By the time Louis XVI went to the guillotine, potatoes had become so favored among the people, that the revolutionary commune ordered that the flowers of the royal gardens at the Tuileries be dug up, and replaced with potatoes.

It is said that Louis’ head, once roughly lopped, it was tossed there, into what was once his flower-bed, sown now with the now-favored potatoes, that Louis himself had brought, and against their resistance, to those who—Thanatos-blind on blood-righteousness—gave him the chop.

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2 Responses to “Mr. Potato Head”


  1. 1 sally cordon July 28, 2015 at 8:27 am

    so I sit here reading trash and watching too much TV — I DO edit novels and short stories and essay for friends which gives me a bit of mental stimulation, but how come you know so much about so many things? You never cease to amaze me. And my mother served potatoes every single day of my life, EXCEPT when we had a dish she called WHITE TRASH dinner –white potatoes with pork chops and white pork chop gravy and white cauliflower. I kinda of liked that, too — Fortunately, my Greek father cooked on Sundays and we had spectacular meals — squash blossoms stuffed with rice and lamb — squid stuffed with rice and spices and incredible artichoke stews and –oh, you know, food worthy to set in front of Athena… l like it when you write things that surprise me and make me delve into my past… Namaste – xoxox.

    • 2 bluenred July 28, 2015 at 9:58 pm

      I know less than I appear. This particular goofiness is the work of the cat who needs to excavate the books from the bottom shelves of the bookcases. As I was recently reshelving some, I figured I could mate the quote from the dis-shelved Kohr book with some stuff from a couple of dis-shelved food books about the great kingly conspiracy to get the French to eat potatoes. The part about tossing Louis’ head in the potato-bed I might have made up, though I think I “remembered” it. Anyway, if it didn’t happen like that, it should have.

      I like it when you like what I write, and especially when it surprises you, and takes you back to pleasant days of future passed.


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