Petrified potato remains dating back to 500 BC have been discovered in the ancient ruins of Peru and Chile. The Incas recognized that the long shelf-life of potatoes made them invaluable and would keep bins of them discreetly stashed away in case of war or famine.
Potatoes didn't reach Europe until the late 1500's when conquistadors, who mistook the potatoes for (rather bland) truffles, brought them back to Spain from the Americas.The potato was introduced all across Europe by the early 1600's. Wherever the potato was introduced, it was considered weird, poisonous, and downright evil. In France and elsewhere, the potato was accused of causing not only leprosy, but also syphilis, narcosis, early death, sterility, and rampant sexuality, and of destroying the soil where it grew. And until about the 1850's, American farmers considered the potato more appropriate food for livestock than for their families. Now The Potato is one of the most commonly consumed foods, particularly in the U.S.