Negative potato

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An algebraic representation of a negative potato.

Negative potatoes, sometimes called antipotatoes, are an edible cousin, and the exact opposite, of the widely known potato. A member of the negative tuber family, their existence is centered around the belief that while it is possible to possess no potatoes simply by having zero potatoes, it is also possible to have fewer than no potatoes with even one negative potato. Their paradoxical existence has granted negative potatoes special properties, for which applications have been developed and commonly used in various settings, from culinary to economic, from military to industrial. Once overshadowed by "regular" potatoes in the public eye, negative potatoes gained notoriety in 1956 when they were adopted as the national food of Darfur.


In the case of nearly all manner in the universe, the exact opposite of an object is the lack of existence of that object; for example, if a chair exists, then somewhere a chair does not exist. This preserves the balance of nature across the universe. Potatoes, however, are different in that God did not originally intend to create a food as useful, delicious and customizable as the modest potato. Nonetheless, due to a rounding error by the Department of Agriculture in Heaven, potatoes were created and gifted to the people of Earth. Thinking quickly, God decided that in this instance the opposite of an object would have to be a physical manifestation of fewer than none of that object. The negative potato was devised as a way of keeping the universe balanced, and it is said that for every potato farmed in Idaho by a wealthy American industralist, on the other side of the world there is a negative potato farmed by a dirt-poor Chinese man.

The appearance of a negative potato is dependent on the individual perceiving it: whatever would represent the exact opposite of a potato is the form that a negative potato takes to them. Most people perceive negative potatoes as slightly radioactive, potato-shaped holes in space, and believe that all black holes (such as those in outer space, or the area between the ears of most politicians) are merely large piles of negative potatoes. If true, this theory would explain how there can be one negative potato for each regular potato and yet they can still be rare; indeed, most people have never heard of negative potatoes. Some literal-minded individuals incorrectly assume that a lack of potatoes equals the presence of negative potatoes, concluding that negative potatoes are everywhere, though these people are generally called crazy and ignored.

Mathematics of negative potatoes

Negative potatoes are heavily intertwined with mathematics to justify their existence. Many people have gone their entire lives without learning about negative potatoes, and it is sometimes difficult for them to comprehend the idea of less than no potatoes. Fortunately, mathematicians over the years have made it easy to explain the concept of a negative potato through use of simple equations and mathematical facts.

Creating a negative potato

There exist a number of methods for mere mortals to create negative potatoes. A few of these are listed below.

  • Take two casseroles, one with two potatoes and one with no potatoes. Remove three potatoes from the first casserole and add them to the second. Since the number of potatoes must be the exact same throughout the process, a negative potato is created to maintain balance
  • Plant a negative potato seed in negative soil, give it plenty of negative water, make sure it gets negative sunlight and doesn't get eaten by any negative insects (but avoid the use of negative pesticides), and wait a few negative weeks. For obvious reasons this is not recommended for pessimists.
  • Ask Sarah Palin to fetch the ten potatoes from her closet. (Why she keeps them there is beyond the scope of this article.) She will predictably miscount and withdraw eleven potatoes, creating a negative potato.

Potato equalization

The result of potato equalization.

As is standard for an object and its complete opposite- of which potatoes and negative potatoes are the only known examples- the combination of a potato with a negative potato will cause the two to cancel each other out and effectively disappear, an event known as potato equalization. Unregulated, rampant potato equalization was cited as the cause of the Great Famine of Ireland in 1845, an event which ravaged the country until the Irish government caught up in 1852 and established regulations governing the use of negative potatoes. Potato equalization is sometimes used in food fights, since potatoes are large and powerful ammunition for an elementary schooler to hurl at a classmate. Countering with a negative potato allows said classmate to avoid the attack.


Because of potato equalization, negative potatoes have found popularity with people working in certain industries. In 1965, massive overproduction of potato salad in communist Russia threatened the nation's economy until the extra potato salad was combined with negative potatoes, resulting in regular salad. Unbeknownst to most Americans but knownst to us, the upper levels of the United States government are putting into motion a plan to cut down on the population of lazy people by giving all so-called 'couch potatoes' a negative potato, turning them into couches and reducing the strain on the nation's health care and economy. Sexually curious pre-teens will sometimes sneak a negative potato from the grocer and use it with their Mr. Potato Head toy, giving them a Mr. Head. Giggity.

Producing regular potatoes and the square potato theorem

The square potato theorem in action.

Those who find themselves without any need for the uses described above can simply use negative potatoes, in sufficient quantity, to produce regular potatoes. The traditional method is to bake two potato casseroles, each of which is made with three negative potatoes, and then multiply them together:

This process is extremely efficient, as it can produce more potatoes than the number of negative potatoes required. However, a casserole dish is consumed in the process. Prospective potato-producers should take caution to not overuse the process and drive casserole dishes into extinction.

Around the beginning of the 20th century, mathematicians devised a method of turning negative potatoes into potatoes without using up casserole dishes, called the square potato theorem. The basic idea is to square a negative potato; that is, multiply it by itself:

This seems much more efficient as it can produce potatoes without wasting casserole dishes, but this technique is difficult to perfect. Newbie mathematicians often make the mistake of calculating the square root of a negative potato instead of the square. This is problematic, not only because the square root of a negative potato is an imaginary potato (which is, of course, a completely fictional and absurd idea), but because most modern calculators will return an error if "square root of nine negative potatoes" is entered into them.

It wasn't long before the fast food industry picked up on this mathematical tool of wizardry and found other uses for it. For example, it is possible to extract the roots of nine potatoes by calculating their square roots, although this is considered wasteful as the roots are not very tasty. A more popular method is to calculate the square root of an imperfect square number of potatoes:

Rather than useless potato roots, this equation gives two whole potatoes, some french fries (the physical manifestation of a fraction of a potato), and a little ketchup, as illustrated on the right. Fast food chains have used the square potato theorem to quickly produce french fries in bulk.

Nutritional value

Because of their contrary nature to regular potatoes, eating a negative potato is equivalent to throwing up a regular potato, without the messy inconvenience. Thusly, high school girls often adhere to a diet of negative potatoes in order to lose weight.

See also


This article is based on the Désencyclopédian text Pomme de terre négative, made freely available to French-speaking wildebeest gnus under the GFDL.

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