A potato discussion

Story_squareOur younger son looked up from his computer to land yet another fun fact in the midst of the living room.

“You know about that idea that putting a potato in an exhaust pipe of a car keeps the car from running?”

Well, it hadn’t been the first thing that popped in my mind when I got up in the morning. In fact, I hadn’t thought about that in years.

My mind flashed to the stories from junior high school about the boys who had shoved a potato in a school bus exhaust, or was it the math teacher’s car? Maybe it was the opposing team’s school bus. Maybe it was the home ec teacher’s pickup .

In any case, I was sure it was successful.

Somebody had said so.

So I told our son, “Sure. That works.”

He laughed. That’s never a good sign when you’re the mom and he’s the one with the computer in front of him. “Nope. When you put a potato in an exhaust pipe, what you get is a great potato launcher.”


This is the son that I bought the book Backyard Ballistics for many years ago. The idea in the book was to let boys be boys as they were growing up.

This boy built catapults, tennis ball mortars, a paper match rocket, and a potato cannon that didn’t even involve an exhaust pipe.

Still, he was going in the face of junior high legend and I wasn’t sure if I could let that go down without a defense.

“Are you sure?” I asked. It was a feeble defense but I had to try.

“Oh, yeah. They’ve done studies on it.”

I decided to let it go. I really didn’t want to follow him outside to stuff a potato in our car’s exhaust.

“There’s a box of fruit by the fridge,” I told him. Changing the subject was better than admitting defeat. “Oranges, apples, grapefruit. Help yourself.”

“Oh, yeah,” he said. “I could make a fruit cannon.”


“The neighbors deserve fruit, too.”

It would have better to concede defeat.


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