The Potato Council wants to give you relationship advice

Fellas, what to buy so you don’t get left on shelf” is the starkly consumerist silly season science story in today’s Express. The story is based on a survey, carried out by the Potato Council of all people, asking women whether they chose boyfriends based on the contents of their shopping baskets. Supposedly, 90% of women do.

Except of course, they almost certainly don’t.

GMTV, who have what may be the saddest news/current affairs website in history (they’ve got almost five stories, guys!), covered this story a couple of days ago, and detailed the results of the survey (which sadly doesn’t appear to be in the public domain).

Women were asked first whether they judge shoppers based on the contents of their basket, which is a rather leading question. Of course people judge from time to time; it’s rather hard not to. Unsurprisingly, 90% of women said they did sometimes.

Next they were asked whether they’d associate certain grocery products with a) a good job, b) a good father, c) a good husband, d) a good cook and e) a man in good health. Rather shockingly, women claimed that a man buying new potatoes is all of the above, a finding I am sure had nothing at all to do with the fact that this was a Potato Council sponsored survey.

Finally, both articles have the rather odd claim that:

In under 10 seconds, two thirds of women will have checked out his shopping and decided if a man leads a healthy lifestyle, 62% will have determined if he takes care of himself and six in ten whether he has a lot of money.

I’m not sure how they could find this out with a survey at all. The only way I can see to do it is to show women shopping baskets and ask them within 10 seconds whether the man who the basket belonged to was healthy, wealthy and/or responsible.

Both articles quote a relationship expert called Kate Taylor for a some evolutionary psychology woo of the highest order (the Express condenses this quote down somewhat).

Women are trained to spot suitable mates, and have many unconscious ways of assessing a man’s partnership potential – including his height, the symmetry of his features and even his smell. Secretly snooping at a man’s shopping is just the modern way of seeing what kind of provider he would be.

Some shopping basket items clearly have more “attractive” associations for women than others. As most “attractive” qualities are actually signs of fertility – like healthy skin tone or an inverse V shaped male torso – men should not overlook the pulling power of certain foods such as potatoes and apples.

Apples and potatoes make men more fertile. Got it.

Seriously, am I the only one who’s thrown by the non sequitur here?

Women subconsciously want good fathers for their kids. New potatoes probably rank highly because they are healthy and take little time to prepare – a good father doesn’t lock himself in the kitchen for hours to try to escape from his other domestic duties.

Ok, women want a man who cooks but not a man who cooks. Great.

In conclusion, the real story here is that it’s not women who care about the contents of men’s shopping baskets, it’s the Potato Council.

To bulk out this post, have a delicious recipe. It’s made with potatoes and apples, so it should give you as much pulling power as an inverse V shaped torso (a Λ shaped torso?).

Himmel und Erde


  • 1 large potato per person
  • 1 large apple person
  • A little butter
  • 1 tsp mixed spice

Peel the potatoes, chop them into ~inch sized chunks and boil until soft (roughly half an hour). Meanwhile, peel and dice the apples, and fry them in a deep pan with the butter and the mixed spice until soft. Drain the potatoes, add them to the apples. Take the pan off the heat and mash thoroughly.

Serve with fried onion and black pudding or German sausage.


  1. #1 by ukenagashi on Saturday, 14th August 2010 - 20:46 GMT+0100

    Oh hell yes himmel und Erde.

    And I didn’t even know there WAS a Potato Council.

    • #2 by atomicspin on Saturday, 14th August 2010 - 20:51 GMT+0100

      Who else did you think would rule the potatoes?

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