The bizarre reason golf balls are showing up in bags of frozen hash browns

Two hash brown manufacturers are recalling the frozen potatoes in nine states after pieces of golf balls were found in their popular breakfast side dish. Really. 

File this one under “things you probably never thought you’d read on a golf website,” right next to “Bubba Watson treats his caddie with the utmost respect” or “Tiger Woods wins his 15th major.” And fire up your best, “eggs with a side of golf ball-hash” joke.

Source: Instagram

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McCain Foods USA’s recall notice on the US Food & Drug Administration indicates their hash browns could be “contaminated with extraneous golf ball materials” that “may have been inadvertently harvested with potatoes used to make this product.”

Are all golf balls grown and harvested, then? Kidding. The notice reads further, “Consumption of these products may pose a choking hazard or other physical injury to the mouth.” So, if you were wondering if you should eat golf balls, generally, the answer is “no.”

All joking aside, how the heck does something like this happen? Atlas Obscura may have the answer. According to the University of Idaho, golf balls are identified as “common foreign material found in potatoes” (along with things like bones and light bulbs).

“Golfing and hunting are popular activities in Idaho, but both of these activities can be a source of foreign material in potatoes. Golf balls are a particularly difficult problem in potato fields near urban areas. A golf ball can do a great deal of damage if it goes undetected into the cutting knives of a processing plant.”

Pretty simply, it seems, Idahoans scratch their golfing itch by whacking balls into potato fields. The golf balls are then harvested along with the potatoes, and being similar in shape and size to some potatoes, are fed along the production process. Reportedly, golf balls were often sliced and fried alongside potato chips in the past.

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And for the PSA element of this piece: The recalled items. 2-pound bags of Roundy’s Brand Frozen Southern Style Hash Browns from Marianos, Metro Market, and Pick ‘n Save supermarkets in Illinois and Wisconsin. 2-pound bags of Harris Teeter Brand Frozen Southern Style Hash Browns sold in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia and Maryland. Don’t eat ‘em unless you’re looking to taste some Titleists.

While we never want to discourage folks from beating balls, it’s generally better to confine that particular activity to the driving range and golf course. Potato fields, and, say, the ocean, are less ideal landing spots and come with some unintended consequences…unless of course you like golf balls in your breakfast potatoes.

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