Don't Just Mail a Potato, Mail a Sweet Potato!

DIY / HOW TO / CRAFT

Don’t Just Mail a Potato, Mail a Sweet Potato!

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For all its shortcomings, the United States Postal Service still manages to accomplish some quite amazing feats on a daily basis. US First Class mail service is cheaper, faster, and more reliable than any other mail service on Earth. And unlike the UK's more restrictive Royal Mail service, our postal service explicitly says it's okay to mail some pretty strange stuff. You can even mail a potato: Russet, red or otherwise, with no packaging required! Just write the delivery address and a return address directly on the skin and add the correct number of stamps. Then say sayonara to your spud!

We Mail a Potato for the First Time

We mail hundreds of tiny letters and packages a month, but until last week we had never thought to mail a potato. So we decided to give it a try. And we figured why mail a boring Russet potato, when we can mail a sweet potato instead? That seemed especially fitting with Valentine's Day on the horizon.

Besides, a big sweet potato leaves enough surface area to add a witty message for your lucky recipient. And the only thing better than getting a surprise potato in the mail, is getting a surprise potato with a pitch perfect personal note.

So here's our innocent sweet potato as it was in the beginning:

mail a potato bare

Perhaps not the most flawless specimen, but it should survive the journey nonetheless.

Then we not-so-carefully wrote the delivery address directly onto the skin with our favorite Marks-A-Lot chisel tip pen. In retrospect, I think a finer point Sharpie marker would have worked a bit better. Then we used a regular ball point pen to add the return address, just in case something goes awry.

mail a potato addressed

For this trial run, we decided to send a potato to Lea who's up in Oregon for a few weeks working on some new creative projects.

And to tie it all together, we added a personal message to the reverse side of our postal potato, which reads: "Life is sweet! Happy Valentine's Day!"

mail a potato - sweet message

The bigger the potato, the more surface area you have to write a fun note. But you'll pay for it in postage!

Finally, we weighed our sweet potato, which came in at a whopping 20 oz. That's well over the 13 oz maximum for First Class mail service. So we had to go with Priority Mail instead, hence the rather expensive printable postage stamps shown below:

mail a potato - with stamps

We had some extra printable postage stamps in the studio, but a row of regular stamps would probably look much nicer!

So what did Lea think of our early Valentine's Day gift? Guess you'll have to ask her...

 

How To Mail a Potato in 5 Easy Steps

Step 1: Go to your local farmer's market, corner bodega, or grocery and select your (sweet) spud.

  • Pick a smooth and evenly shaped one that will be easy to write on.
  • Weigh it and remember the weight (or save your receipt) so you can apply the correct postage later on.
  • Keep it under 13 oz if you want to save some dough and mail your potato First Class.

Step 2: Select two pens or markers, one with a wider tip than the other.

  • Decide which side of your potato looks most like the "front."
  • Use the fatter marker to write your lucky recipient's delivery address as clearly as possible.
  • Use the thinner marker to write a return address smaller than (and above and to the left of) the delivery address.

Step 3: Add a witty, whacky, or heartfelt message to the reverse side of your potato parcel. Something like...

  • "I love you more than french fries."
  • "You've got great curb a-peel!"
  • "You're absolutely mashing."
  • "Can I cook you dinner?"
  • Have another good message idea? Leave it in the post comments below...

Step 4: Add the correct amount of postage, based on weight. As of January 2016, the correct amounts for US mailings are...

  • 6 oz: $3.14 (7 regular stamps)
  • 7 oz: $3.34 (7 regular stamps)
  • 8 oz: $3.54 (8 regular stamps)
  • 9 oz: $3.74 (8 regular stamps)
  • 10 oz: $3.94 (9 regular stamps)
  • 11 oz: $4.14 (9 regular stamps)
  • 12 oz: $4.34 (9 regular stamps)
  • 13 oz: $4.54 (10 regular stamps)
  • 13+ oz: Send your potato via Priority Mail. Cost varies by weight and zone. Look it up here (select "Package") >

Step 5: Mail your potato!

  • If 13 oz or less, ceremoniously drop your potato in any blue mailbox.
  • Listen for a nice dull thud when it hits the bottom.
  • If over 13 oz, hand it over the counter at your local post office.
  • Wink and walk away.


Devin turns crafty ideas into surprising products and memorable experiences. He is co-owner of Leafcutter Designs, a creative studio and online shop based in Berkeley, CA.

7 Comments

  1. Bili Reuben

    February 10, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    I AM SO GOING TO MAIL MY COUSIN NATE A POTATO!!!!!

    seriously, he lives in Idaho, so it would be funny, because Idaho has potatoes, and it’s a potato…. I guess it’s not that funny.

  2. 90sProject's channelV2

    November 24, 2016 at 11:16 am

    Alright, well how is 7 stamps for a 6 oz potato 3.14, and 7 stamps for a 7oz potato 3.34?

    • Devin Redmond

      November 28, 2016 at 5:53 pm

      Good question! $3.14 is the exact postage required to ship a 6 oz parcel. But you can’t get there with only six 49 cent stamps. So, if you’re using regular first class letter rate stamps, you’ll need seven, which will equal $3.43 in postage, enough to ship a 6 or 7 oz potato. Cheers.

  3. sheri cecil

    February 6, 2016 at 9:00 am

    In 1987 my brother successfully mailed to me cross country an unwrapped slice of american cheese.
    He had written my address in sharpie and glued the stamp down.
    treasure

  4. Kira

    January 20, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    That’s the coolest thing I’ve seen! I can’t wait to send my very own spud. You guys are awesome!

  5. NobleDesignMedia

    January 19, 2016 at 11:25 pm

    I would feel embarrassed and bad making a postal person carry a sweet potato like that, especially when the purpose was mostly whimsy. And the trucks required to transport to destination take away any remaining merit of fun of the idea may have had for me. Sorry.

    • Devin Redmond

      January 23, 2016 at 1:23 pm

      I think whimsy is a great reason to send mail. 90% of mail is sent to solicit business or payment for something (ads, bills, etc.), and that’s no fun at all. I would venture that most postal carriers would get a kick out of delivering a potato (or some other whacky item) with a sweet note on it. After all, who wants to deliver advertisements all day?

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