Greece's Giant Potato Statue Is Turning Heads For A Risque Reason

One village's attempt at honoring their trademark crop went hilariously awry this week, as spectators took to social media to make salacious claims about a new produce-shaped monument. According to Cyprus Mail, the Greek village of Xylofagou recently made international headlines with the debut of a larger-than-life spud statue, which was erected as a tourist attraction meant to bring recognition to the town's long-standing potato farming industry.

The Big Potato statue — which cost the village €8,000 to design, build, and install — mimics the shape of a 'spunta,' a traditional elongated potato commonly grown in Cyprus. Images of the oblong sculpture, which towers 13 feet into the air, quickly circulated around local social media, with spectators noting that the vegetable-shaped statue bore a striking resemblance to a penis.

Word of the phallic-shaped potato spread to the international media, making headlines like "'Potato penis' statue erected to honour local area's elongated spuds sparks ridicule in Cyprus" (via The Daily Mail) and, "Statue of giant potato goes viral for phallus shape" (per ABS-CBN).

Euripides Evriviades, former Cyprus ambassador to the U.K., took to Twitter to cheekily defend the oblong monument, writing: "It's not a homage to the ancient cult of the phallus ... but a monument to the Cyprus potato produced in Xylofagou village." Evriviades posted an image of the potato next to other recognizable landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty, adding: "Other countries have instantly recognizable monuments. Now we have ours."

Local leaders have defended the larger-than-life spud

Xylofagou community leader and potato creator George Tasou told Cyprus Mail that despite the online innuendos about the potato's shape, he's still proud of the town's new landmark, saying: "I'm not bothered because it's brought publicity to our village, and I'm hoping it will promote the Cyprus potato around the world." 

Tasou was inspired by The Big Fish statue in Belfast (it's 32 feet long, says Visit Belfast) to create a monument to the village's own top export. "Xylofagou has a long legacy of potato growing and used to be the main potato grower in Cyprus," Tasou said. "This helped the village grow into the 10,000-strong community it is today."

Despite the somewhat salacious narrative around the potato monument, which was constructed ahead of Cyprus's upcoming annual Potato Festival, the international publicity has already brought attention to the small Greek village, accomplishing Tasou's ultimate goal. The town council has big plans for the future of the supersized spud, including adding rocks and local soil to adorn the area around the sculpture, a food stand offering various preparations of potatoes, and benches for visitors to relax and take in the view of the colossal produce. 

After the spud-shaped statue is complete, Xylofagou will attempt to make international news again next year, as the potato farming community gears up to attempt to earn a Guinness World Record for frying the largest portion of potato chips in the world. The goal: approximately 1,750 pounds' worth.