Yukon Nuggets

1980 Yukon Nuggets

Yukon Gold Potato


This nugget is about Yukon gold – the Yukon gold that sells for about fifty cents a pound. It’s the kind you can eat. And it is good for you too! Yep, the Yukon Gold potato. It took years of research to come up with a variety of potato that would eventually feature this famous name. Today, Yukon Gold is one of the most well known potato varieties in North America. How did it happen?

Yukon Gold is the work of the late Dr. Gary Johnston, a scientist at the University of Guelph, Ontario. During the 1960s, he headed a research team that was trying to develop a hardy potato with yellow flesh that would grow almost anywhere in Canada and be relatively disease free. It took thirteen years of work by Johnston and his team of scientists but it was worth it since the Yukon Gold is prized by chefs and homemakers around the world.

Why was the research done? Well, yellow-fleshed potatoes are common in Europe and South America and immigrants to North America preferred them. This untapped market required an enhanced, disease-resistant golden variety that could be easily grown in North America. The result was the Yukon Gold, the first Canadian-bred potato to be marketed and promoted by name. It received a Canadian license in 1980 and was soon being exported to the United States. Yep, potato varieties are licensed.

The job of a scientific potato researcher like Gary Johnston is complex. How does the potato taste? Is it resistant to diseases? Where will it grow? What is the yield? These are only a few of the many questions that must be answered. When the research is done and the potato is ready for market, the scientist who developed the new variety, gets the right to name it. Gary Johnston chose the name – Yukon Gold.

There are other gold-fleshed potatoes on the market, including Yellow Finn, Michigold, Banana, and Saginaw Gold, but none have the name recognition of Yukon Gold. Ever wonder how much this name recognition appeals to potential visitors to the land of gold?


A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin.

Les McLaughlin

Les McLaughlin

As storyteller, radio man, and music producer, Les proved a passionate preserver of Yukon heritage throughout his life — nowhere more evident than as the author and voice of CKRW’s “Yukon Nuggets,” from its inception until his passing in 2011.