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Check Out These Spuds! Eight 'Potatoes' for Hanukkah

What would Hanukkah be without potato pancakes? 

Like candles to a menorah or gelt to a dreidel, potatoes are every bit a part of the holiday. So for all of you out there celebrating, or just appreciating, here are eight "potatoes" from our Digital Collection

Enough to last all eight nights:

1) The Baked Potato

What a great name for a band! These three lovely ladies went by that moniker. Seen with Christopher Lee, they played alongside Bette Midler, Lily Tomlin, and Richard Pryor in a made-for-Hollywood fundraiser Star-Spangled Night of Rights in 1977. And that’s when this photo was snapped.

Billy Rose Theatre Division, Library of Performing Arts

2) One Happy Pig

This 1917 illustration is classic Beatrix Potter. Here, an adorable l little pig is seen peeling potatoes for her unlikely supper. Maybe potato pancakes!

Art and Picture Collection, Mid-Manhattan Library

3) The Irish Stew

You thought we forgot? In this comic song, not only do Irish people love potatoes, they look like them too! Here’s a line from the chorus written in 1891: "Murphy look like a potato, McFarland like a carrot.” Proving we have more than corned  beef in common.

Music Division, Library of Performing Arts

4) In the Potato Laboratory, No Really

Ever heard of the Potato Act of 1935? Didn’t think so. During the Great Depression, farmers could only sell potatoes in sealed containers monitored by the government. Above, a government worker tests some spuds in Prince Georges County, Beltsville, Maryland. Pass the olive oil!

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division, of Art, Prints and Photographs

5) Don’t Put This in Your Pipe!

And you thought cigarette cards were sexy. This gem offers smokers a helpful tips to growing their own potatoes: Put them in a shallow box and in the dark until the eyes sprout. Helpful!

George Arents Collection, Schwarzman Building

6) Behold, the Potato King

No one knows potatoes like Junius G. Groves knew potatoes. Born a slave, Groves owned an extremely profitable farm in Edwardsville, Kansas. Seen in 1907, he earned his title by growing the most bushels of potatoes per acre ever just five years earlier. That’s a whole lot of latkes!

Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, Schomburg Center

7) Hello Mother, Hello Father

In this 1717 letter, William Byrd writes to John Custis about his life in Virginia. In many ways, it’s a typical letter home in which he writes about his wife, his tobacco crop, and asks that his friend please send potatoes.

Manuscripts and Archives Division, Schwarzman Building

8) Sisters at Farms

This undated etching by Jules Breton and Felix Bracquemond shows women working together to harvest potatoes. Likely created in the late 1800s, this work is snapshot of everyday life and offers perhaps the best insight into why we eat potatoes for Hanukkah: When we were peasants, that’s all we could afford. Now they it can serve as a reminder of our past.

Happy Hanukkah everyone!

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division, of Art, Prints and Photographs


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