In the late 18th century, Frederick the Great, of Prussia realized the potential of potatoes to feed his people and his army. The volatility of wheat crops posed a threat to the market and to the people of Prussia. By adopting potatoes, Prussia would decrease the chance of famine and overcome their reliance on bread.
– 18th Century Prussian Folk
The people of Prussia refused to grow or eat potatoes. Records show that farmers were executed for not growing the vegetable – but still, the people would not comply.
Rather than continuing to enforce his rule, Frederick decided to re-brand and re-position the potato in the market. He declared the potato a royal vegetable, only allowed to be eaten by the royal family. He planted them in a royal potato patch secured by royal guards with specific orders to watch over them – but not very well. Potatoes were stolen by local peasants, and eventually a black market for potatoes was formed. Potatoes now became popular, sought after, and in high demand. Eventually, farmers could not produce enough to keep up with the people’s demands.