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I Yam What I Yam

by Kevin Alonzo Bratcher about a month ago in fact or fiction

And never trust a Bruce

I blame Bruce. I’m sure this issue is deeper and more complex than just Bruce, but he gets the bulk of my ire. Now I just need to figure out which Bruce.

The name Bruce has been around since the medieval times and became popularized by the descendants of Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland from 1274 to 1329. My beef with Bruces didn’t start until the 20th century, so in the interest of time and efficiency my investigation will focus on the modern Bruce. Since 1928 a number of Bruce’s have found fame and become fixtures in our lives.

Bruce Lee – a legendary martial artist who combined philosophy, acting, and culture to bring his fighting style to the big screen. Rumor has it that he had his sweat glands removed strictly for aesthetic reasons. Is he to blame?

Bruce Willis – Yipee Ki Yay! Willis is known for his badass acting movies such as Die Hard and Armageddon. He even recorded a song called “Respect Yourself” in 1987. Maybe he is the problematic Bruce?

Bruce Springsteen – The Boss is one of the biggest rock stars of the last 75 years, with hits like “Glory Days,” “Born in the USA,” and “Pink Cadillac.” Less known is the fact that he has two middle names, Frederick and Joseph. What else is he hiding?

I don’t think we’ll ever know which one is truly the culprit, which is why I advise you to never trust a Bruce. You may be asking ‘But why? What did Bruce ever do to you?’ I’ll tell you why. Some Bruce out there has propagated the greatest misinformation campaign in American history, and continues it to this day. Over the last 100 years, this lie has been steadily pushed on to innocent consumers so cunningly that few people know the real truth.

I’d call this a fun fact, but there’s nothing fun about slander and libel. Here is the truth – yams and sweet potatoes are not the same. Yes, you read that correctly. The two vegetables are entirely different, and should be treated as such. Before I get into the differences, why does everyone think they are the same? Because of Bruce!

Can you spot the hypocrisy?

As you can see in the image above, Bruce has been knowingly canning sweet potatoes under the name “Bruce’s Yams” for almost a century. Bruce is selling sweet potatoes. Why he decided to brand himself a yam company when he sells no such thing is befuddling. Who benefits from this charade? Why intentionally perpetuate a misnomer that began in the 19th century? Only Bruce knows that. He had an opportunity to clarify, but instead he chose chaos. In fact, the US government is now behind Bruce and his antics. The Department of Agriculture now requires all labels with the term yam to be accompanied with the term sweet potato.

This is insanity! We have US regulations in place to make sure the actual ingredient (sweet potatoes) is notated if the definitively wrong ingredient (yams) is listed on the label. Why doesn’t the USDA force people claiming to sell yams to, you know, sell yams. There are distinct differences:

On the left, a real yam. On the right, the "yams" Bruce is hocking.

Yams – Native to Africa and Asia, yams are a close relative of lilies and grasses, and have a bark-like exterior. They are a plant with a singular embryonic leaf seed and are starchier and drier than sweet potatoes. Yams are from the Dioscoreaceae family.

Sweet Potatoes – There are many varieties of sweet potatoes and the varieties are classified as soft or firm. The soft sweet potatoes were often mistaken for yams. Sweet potatoes are a part of the Convolvulacea family and in no way botanically related to the yam.

Clearly, with decades of consumer hypnotism and the USDA on his side, Bruce is not backing down anytime soon. Facts apparently don’t matter in the land of “candied yams.”

How deep does this go? Bruce was bold enough to attach his name to such an obvious injustice, can you imagine what he perpetuates anonymously? We may never know, but I am glad to have started the discussion.

fact or fiction
Kevin Alonzo Bratcher
Kevin Alonzo Bratcher
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