POST FALLS, Idaho, April 1, 2019 – The “Hot Potato” truck belonging to the Idaho Processed Potato Association dumped approximately four tons of hot scalloped potatoes onto I-90 Saturday morning. The specially-modified tractor-trailer rig is one of Idaho’s colorful trucks which travel the country promoting Idaho’s famous potatoes.
The adapted food-delivery vehicle flipped onto its side just after 9 a.m. and slid several hundred feet after braking to avoid a Kia SUV which swerved into the truck’s lane of travel on Interstate 90 between Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls. The truck was on its way to a spring-break event at the College of North Idaho with a load of Nonpareil-brand hot scalloped potatoes to serve to the student festival attendees.
The Hot Potato truck driver Sean Clark and passenger Mildred Parris, both of Blackfoot, were uninjured from the crash. The minor driver of the SUV fled the scene of the accident and was stopped in State Line, Wash., and detained by the Washington Highway Patrol, awaiting extradition to Idaho.
“All eastbound lanes of travel were closed for approximately an hour and a half,” said Idaho State Police Sgt. Akira Wada. “This was so a crew from the Idaho Transportation Department could remove the spilled potatoes from the roadway.”
The lane of traffic next to the meridian was closed for most of the afternoon while ITD pressure-cleaned the gravel fill between the two directions of traffic of spilled potato product. “This was a necessary operation,” Wada stated, “because otherwise the potatoes would rot and create both an olfactory and biological hazard.”
No one was available over the weekend at the Idaho Processed Potato Association in Heyburn, Ida., for comment. The Hot Potato Truck was commissioned by the organization in 2014 to mix and hot-serve several tons of soft semi-fluid processed potatoes products such as scalloped or mashed as a novelty promotion.
Painted in the iconic red-and-yellow color scheme made popular by the Idaho Potato Commission’s Big French Fry truck, the Hot Potato Truck has been a favorite at state fairs, music festivals, parades and other events throughout the United States and Canada. The heated rotating drum, painted to resemble a giant russet-baker potato, was designed and custom-built for the processed potato association by Food Specialties Technologies, the famous specialty food-truck manufacturing company in Los Angeles.