This society has over 50 branches in the UK. These branches are mainly made up of former school dinner ladies and canteen staff who love taking part in the weekly and monthly competitions at their meetings. These contests have a practical side as the peeled spuds are all used to make meat and potato pies for the locals old people’s homes.

The weekly competitions include the quickest time to peel a potato and the longest single unbroken peel. There are strict rules about what constitutes a properly peeled potato. No more than 7% of the potato must be removed when it’s peeled. Each potato is weighed before the event starts and then weighed afterwards. Records are kept of these weekly competitions and the member who has peeled a potato in the quickest time and produced the longest unbroken peel are entitled to represent their club at the national meeting.

Monthly competitions include a team event to produce an edible meat and potato pie in the quickest time. Again the team with the quickest time goes on to represent their club at the annual meeting. The annual national meeting convention is held in Leeds in April where the champion peelers and pie-makers are determined.

The longest unbroken peel was produced in 2011 by Alice Richards from Brighton – it was 34 feet 8 inches in length and took Alice 27 minutes to produce, using a cut-throat razor she bought in a bric-a-brac shop in Derbyshire. The quickest time to peel a potato is 10.62 seconds by Wendy Pringle from Aberdeen, removing only 5.3% of the potato in the process. She used a potato-peeler specially sharpened on a knife-grinder. Her tip for quick peeling is as follows: “It’s probably the opposite of what you’d think, but I hold the potato with my left hand and rotate it quite quickly, holding the knife rigid, so that it takes a uniform amount of peel all the way around.”

Extract from the book – 40 Strange Groups