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The History of Mashed Potatoes

Scientist Antoine-Augustin Parmentier was captured while serving in the French Army in 1760s and spent several years in a Prussian jail. He survived by consuming potatoes and upon his release, wrote an essay about them and even staged several publicity stunts to help popularize them. He invented a variety of preparations for the potato, so some food historians credit him with creating mashed potatoes around 1771. Other food historians credit the British, who mashed potatoes and served them with pan drippings in the 1600s. One of the earliest recipes appeared in The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, which was written by Hannah Glasse circa 1747. The cookbook was very popular in Colonial America — it was even owned by Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington! Reportedly, it was a major influence on holiday meals. Over time, mashed potatoes became more and more popular, eventually becoming the staple Thanksgiving dish that they are today.

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