Potatriots: The original Freedom Fries

Potatoes in Iowa become "the newest fighting corps" on the domestic front, ca. 1917 - ca. 1918. (National Archives at Kansas City, ARC 283501).

These Iowa spuds were decades ahead of the “Freedom Fries” idea! To help the war effort during First World War, U.S. citizens were encouraged to eat more potatoes while wheat was being sent to the soldiers overseas.

This World War I store window display showed potatoes dressed as soldiers, encouraging both children and adults to remember the fighting men overseas. (In fact, a column in a 1918 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine encouraged citizens to conserve food and “Stop Eating Soldiers!”)

The National Archives Experience is sponsoring an activity from July 11 to July 31 in conjunction with our new exhibition, “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” Inspired by this World War I display, we invite you to create your own “potatriot” diorama! You can draw inspiration from any historical event of your choosing—feel free to be as creative as possible!

Send a photo of your potato diorama to volunteer@nara.gov, and we will post it in an album on the National Archives Facebook page.

All submissions will be entered into a drawing. At the end of the month, a winner will be randomly selected to receive a prize from the Foundation for the National Archives!

(And if you are visiting us in Washington, DC, be sure to stop by the Boeing Learning Center in the National Archives Building to make a diorama there—volunteers will snap a photo on the spot!)

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