SANTA ROSA, Calif. -- They came from far and near to see what might be a freak of nature. A giant spud, chained down on an 18-wheeler like the Godzilla of potatoes. Four tons worth.
"Do you know if it is a real potato or not?" asked one woman. "I want to believe it is. Can I tap it now?"
"We're not in charge," I replied.
Upon hearing that, her friend took the liberty to indulge an overwhelming urge. Tap, tap, tap.
"Forget it!" she pronounced.
The giant potato is faked, not baked.
As if that detracts.
"You don't see anything like this, ever! And it's on a grand tour!" exalted another visitor.
On Wednesday, The Big Idaho Potato, as they call it, pulled into Santa Rosa, the latest of 60 cities in 26 states this spring and summer.
And that's all it did -- just sat there.
"You come here promising a giant potato. And then it's fiberglass. Are people disappointed?"
I asked truck driver Melissa Bradford.
"They all want to think it's real. They punch it. They knock on it. They taste it. They lick it."
Some visitors even praise it. For Janice Dabney from Mountain View, this amounted to a potato pilgrimage.
"This is even better than watching the Blue Angels!" she told us. "I have a model of it at home!"
Janice admits to having potatoes on the brain. Has even written a book of potato poems.
"If you're prone to motion sickness carry two potatoes to keep you balanced," she read.
Do you write about anything else?" I asked.
So hold the presses and add a caveat, because if some poultry producer decides to mount one of those eggs on a giant truck, we'll be happy to see it made from fiberglass.
"It's really fun to believe that there could possibly be a potato in our world this size," said one woman with a deadly serious expression.
In our dreams.
4-ton giant 'potato' rolls into California