A New Zealand couple was weeding their garden in late August, when all of a sudden, they spotted a mysterious mass beneath the soil.
Intrigued, he and his wife, Donna Craig-Brown, 60, got on their hands and knees and started digging.
“We unearthed more and more and more of this thing,” Colin said.
“We just kept digging and digging,” echoed Donna.
The couple, who live on a small farm in the Waikato region of the country’s North Island, quickly realized they needed proper tools for the excavation effort. Their hands simply wouldn’t suffice.
Using a large garden fork, they managed to extract the mound, which was “brown and lumpy and deformed,” Colin said. “It looks like a big tumor. A great big bumpy gross looking thing.”
Eager to identify the strange growth, Colin bravely executed a taste test (which Donna refused to partake in). After swirling the bite around in his mouth, he turned to his wife and confidently said: “Honey, it’s a bloody potato!”
Indeed, by total accident, the Craig-Browns had cultivated what they now believe is the world’s largest potato ever, weighing in at about 17.2 pounds.
The couple decided to share their unexpected finding in a private Facebook post, and “jeepers creepers, we had every man and his dog making funny jokes and comments,” Colin said.
They named the potato Dug — “because we dug him up. Plain and simple,” said Colin, adding that many media outlets have misspelled the spud’s name, calling it “Doug” instead. The couple also made the potato its own small transport cart.
As the story of the vast vegetable started making waves on Facebook, the Craig-Browns’ niece called them to propose an idea: “Hey, you know there’s a Guinness World Record for the world’s biggest potato?” she said, explaining that the current record was just under 11 pounds. “It’s some bloke in England. You should go for it because you would beat him hands down.”
Initially, the idea didn’t appeal to the Craig-Browns.
“But we sat down and thought about it and decided maybe we should just give it a go,” Donna said.
The day after they found Dug on Aug. 31, “we filled out pages of applications,” Colin said.
They recently heard back with a request for further information, but they have yet to receive confirmation that Dug is, in fact, the world’s largest potato. Guinness World Records did not respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post.
The current record-holder for the world’s heaviest potato is Peter Glazebrook, who lives in Britain. His tater, which weighed about 11 pounds in 2011, is clearly no match for Dug.
Still, the Craig-Browns aren’t too concerned with the title.
“Whether or not he wins the world record doesn’t make any difference,” Colin said.
They’re just pleased that the potato has brought them, and countless others around the world who have seen the story, some joy.
“It’s been surprisingly quite fun. It’s gone further than I ever expected it would,” said Donna, who is in the process of making a scrapbook filled with photos of Dug to memorialize the experience.
“It’s fun, lighthearted, a good giggle and it’s something else to think about,” her husband said.
Although discovering Dug has been a recent highlight, the Craig-Browns have always enjoyed gardening together.
“It’s not how we earn our living or feed ourselves. It’s an activity we love to do together,” Colin explained, adding that their four grandchildren sometimes garden with them, too.
They grow numerous vegetables, including broccoli, tomatoes, cabbage, cucumbers, carrots, lettuce and parsnips. Right now, though, they aren’t growing potatoes where Dug was unearthed, which is part of what made the finding so shocking.
“In previous years I’ve had potatoes there, and I can only guess that a potato was left in the ground and it’s grown from that,” Colin said.
Currently, Dug is being stored in the freezer to keep from molding and drying up, while the couple awaits news from Guinness World Records.
“He’s just chilling out,” joked Colin, who is an amateur distiller.
Since eating Dug would be “sacrilege,” he continued, the grand plan is to eventually turn the potato into alcohol.
“We’ll have a wake for him, and I’ll get all my friends around, and we’ll toast him off with his own vodka,” Colin said. “At the end of the day, he’s just a spud. But he’s had a pretty wild and wonderful life.”
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