By KEITH RIDLER
The Associated Press
Friday, May 12, 2006; 10:18 PM
BOISE, Idaho -- The president of the Idaho Potato Commission says there's no way a heart-shaped potato should have made it through the state's inspection system without being pulled aside and turned into french fries. And yet, it did _ during Potato Lover's Month.
"I would guarantee someone saw it and thought, 'This is cool, we'll let this go through,'" said commission president Frank Muir. "Typically, unique shapes will go into processing _ dehydrated or cut up into french fries."
The spud wound up in the kitchen of someone with a receptive eye.
"I love hearts," said Linda Greene of Moon Township, Pa., who discovered the potato in February but only recently alerted the potato commission to the Valentine-shaped tuber. "My engagement ring is actually a heart shape. Anything heart-shaped I go crazy for."
She is storing the potato in a cupboard in her basement.
"I don't have the heart to cut it," she said.
February was designated Potato Lover's Month by Congress after growers lobbied for a way to sell more potatoes during a slow month. It's also the month of Mr. Potato Head's recognized birthday, Feb. 5.
Idaho is the nation's largest potato producer and grows about one-third of all the potatoes in the United States. Last year, the state produced 12.5 billion pounds.
Greene said she had never heard of the commission until she searched the Internet to share her find with someone capable of appreciating its significance. She then e-mailed a picture of herself holding the potato over her own heart to the commission.
Muir said his office received her e-mail in March and got confirmation photos last month. He said the special spud was not a public relations ploy.
"We didn't plant it," said Muir. "We'll have to start sorting for heart-shaped potatoes."
He'd have a customer in Pennsylvania.
"It's a shame they can't grow them and market them," Greene said. "I wonder if I planted mine if I would get heart-shaped potatoes?"