There’s a Fascinating Story of the CIA’s Kodachrome Slides of Potatoes

Declassified is an original Phoblographer series that digs deep into historical documents to examine how the government used photography. Hit the Listen to this Article button to follow along with the story.

Of all things, potatoes are probably one of the most boring photography subjects. But they’re incredibly important. There are many documents in the CIA’s database talking about potatoes, harvesting, potato alcohol, and even introducing pests to other countries. But the very perplexing documents are all about Kodachrome transparencies of potatoes. Why would this matter? We’re curious, and we find beauty in the mysterious question. Could someone have just been really bored and wanted to photograph potatoes? Unfortunately, we don’t have the answer. We dug deep into the records too. But the entire exchange is pretty weird.

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