History: the Story of Spuds
Potatoes have a great deal of historical significance. Over the years they have enjoyed a reputation as medical miracles but also suffered a reputation as the cause of disease. They have evolved in their versatility and even been celebrated by the United Nations. Their significance in history is no better reflected than in Ireland. Below you will find a brief history of the humble spud and how Wilson’s Country has become a part of this history.
1536: Potatoes are introduced into Europe from South America
Peruvian Incas first cultivated potatoes in the foothills of the Andes. The Incas not only enjoyed eating their potatoes, but also used them on sunburn and broken bones to aid healing! However, initially potatoes did not receive such a good reception in Europe; they were accused of causing madness, leprosy and even worse medical complaints.

1590s: Potatoes make their way to Ireland
Sir Walter Raleigh is credited with planting the first seed potatoes in Ireland- little did he know that he would be responsible for a national culinary phenomenon!

English palates had to wait a bit longer to enjoy potatoes though. When Sir Walter Raleigh gifted some potatoes to Queen Elizabeth I, her palace cooks served up the plants rather than the tubers. This caused the people who had consumed them to become very ill and potatoes were banned from the country.
1700s: The Irish love affair with potatoes begins!
In this century the Irish fully adopted potatoes as their staple food stuff. By the end of the century Irish peasants were eating as many as 10 potatoes a day- representing about three quarters of their diet!
1845: Tragedy Strikes
Potato Blight infests all Irish potato crops. Crops fail and the island’s population drops by 20% as people starve. The country does make a full recovery though and potatoes are still held in high regard.
1853: Potatoes prove themselves to be tremendously versatile!
Chef George Crum of America invents the first potato crisps by accident after trying to appease an awkward customer. The customer had complained that his fried potatoes were too chunky and sent his dish back to the kitchen. Chef Crum was irate and re-prepared the dish by arrogantly cutting the potatoes as thin as possible, into what we now know, as crisps.
1940s: Potatoes Vs The Potato Beetle
In this decade the Potato Beetle posed a great threat to many European potato crops. So much so, that Spanish children were encouraged by the government to spend their summer holidays catching and killing these pesky creatures.
1987: Wilson’s Country is born!
Angus Wilson commences packing potatoes from his family farm in County Armagh, delivering the Wilson’s Brand to many local shops. Also at this time, Angus comes up with the concept of ‘Garden Potatoes’- Garden potatoes are grown in harmony with the environment, just as they would be grown in your own garden! This product still proves popular to this day and you can find out more about the Garden brand in the 'Wilson's Way' section of the site.
1990: Wilson’s Country is bustling
Wilson’s Country begins supplying to Henderson's and Wellworths. In 1993 we were listed with Marks & Spencer, and the following year we moved from the farm to a dedicated packhouse at Mahon Road in Portadown. Wilson's Country was now employing 25 people with a turnover of £1.6m and selling 100 tonnes of potatoes per week.
1995: Potatoes in space!
The brain-boxes at NASA decide to start cultivating potatoes...in space! No other vegetable has been grown in space before this time. Potatoes have the honour of being the first, because of their ability to sustain astronauts on long space missions.
1997: Wilson's Country supply potatoes to Tesco

Tesco came to Northern Ireland in 1997, opening their Tesco Metro store in Belfast city centre. We were delighted to be appointed as one of their suppliers, and the following year we were supplying to all of their stores!
2005: Spuds Galore!
Wilson’s Country have grown so much that there is a need to move to bigger premises in the Carn Industrial estate- Craigavon, County Armagh. Agriculture Minister Lord Rooker officially opens the building in April 2006
2008: Celebrate!
The United Nations declares this the International Year of the Potato

Big Spud!
While the world celebrates the Year of the Potato, fittingly a Lebanese farmer digs up the world’s heaviest potato. It weighed a whopping 11.3kg- that’s almost 6 of our Garden 2kg bags!
2009: Fame!
The Wilson’s Potato Family make their début on the small screen. This is the second TV campaign that Wilson’s Country have produced (the first was in 1999). Keep your eyes open for more Wilson’s Potato Family antics in 2010.
The Irish Potato love affair continues and Wilson’s Country are still proud to offer the best potatoes to the most discerning of potato palates.
Contact Us:
Wilson’s Country, 25 Carn Road, Carn Industrial Estate, Craigavon, Co. Armagh BT63 5WG
T: +44 (0)28 38 391029  F: +44 (0)28 38 391042  E: sales@wilsonscountry.com

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