Toward a Better Potato Chip

UW–Madison is much more than just the 936 acres along Lake Mendota. The university also owns 12 agricultural research stations around the state. Hancock, located 84 miles north of Madison, is devoted primarily to the study of vegetables.

Old metal farm equipment on display at Hancock Agricultural Research Station

Jeff Miller

Since 1951, Hancock has been the chief UW experimental facility for potatoes. Researchers have looked at more than 1,000 varieties to see how they fare in Wisconsin. The Badger state is the nation’s third-leading producer of potatoes.

Researcher inspects potatoes

Jeff Miller

The station also includes the Potato Grading Facility. Among their various activities, members of the research staff test potatoes for the kind of chips they’ll produce. Here, Sam Perez visually inspects a chip.

Sam Perez inspects potato chip

Jeff Miller

Hancock grows more than just edible plants. It also includes a five-acre display garden, established in 1993. Called the A. R. Albert and Villetta Hawley-Albert Horticultural Garden, it brings beauty to the station.

Display garden at Hancock Research Center

Courtesy of Tiffany Buchholz

Published in the Summer 2020 issue


  • Brian McGonigle August 26, 2023

    Thank you for your research on potatoes. As a kid in the 60’s, I remember driving by the Wise potato chip factory on East Washington Ave. in Madison. I loved the aroma of those deep fried potato chips as we would drive by in our 1959 Chevy Impala we lovingly called “The Blue Toilet” because one of the rear floor boards was rusted out. Ah, the memories! Thanks again for your research into potatoes!

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