The number one sweet potato question that I am constantly asked is, “What is the difference between a sweet potato and yam?”. So here is your history lesson.
There is a big debate on where sweet potatoes originally came from, but we do know that the ones we eat today in the US came from Central America. These sweet potatoes were more the white and purple flesh variety, which have a smoother texture. The orange variety, which is the dominate variety today, was created. The orange variety’s flesh is stringy making it very different from the others.
From my research, some guy in Louisiana decided that since the orange version was so different, it should have its own name. So, he declared them Yams.
That is right – Yams are Sweet Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes are Yams! It is always fun to ask someone which they like better -sweet potatoes or yams-then blow their mind by telling them that its all the same.
Now, yams do exist, but they are a closer relation to the potato. Yams can be found in Africa and Asia, so unless you shop at an international market, anytime you have eaten a yam in the US, it was really a sweet potato.
By law, anything labelled yams must include sweet potatoes on the packaging. But, who looks for that!
Have fun with this at Thanksgiving! Hopefully it will distract the family discussion of why you do not have a girlfriend/boyfriend, when are you getting married, when are you getting a job, and when will there be grandkids? Ah, the holidays!