Aristocrat In Burlap
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By the time Idaho shippers were selling carloads of potatoes in distant cities, the technology of communications made it possible for them to conduct their business by telegraph or telephone.

In many cases, Idaho shippers who sold to produce jobbers in midwestern, Southern, and Eastern cities contacted them entirely by phone. Buyer and seller never met face-to-face. Since the supply of fresh potatoes available for shipment varied from day-to-day, it was more practical for the seller to be at the shipping point where his knowledge of the availability of the merchandise was firsthand. This replaced the usual selling situation in which a salesman would travel to his customer's place of business and do the selling on a face-to-face basis.

This physical isolation of the seller from his customer pointed to the necessity of having someone making calls in the markets for the Idaho® potato industry. When the Idaho Advertising Commission was formed, one of the recommendations made by the advertising agency was to employ a traveling fieldman who would go into major markets and call on brokers, jobbers, carlot receivers, and chain store produce merchandisers. The early days of this field-merchandising effort, 1937, were undertaken with part-time help. People were hired to represent the Idaho potato industry during the marketing season and names such as Tom L. Watkins, Lloyd Bell, and O. A. Kelley appear as early employees of the Idaho Commission.

The promotional body finally decided to hire a full-time representative. They selected Cecil G. Rice, who had been working in potato and onion industries in Colorado. "C. G.," as he was known throughout the industry, was probably responsible for setting the pattern that later Idaho field-merchandising representatives followed. He bought an automobile, packed his personal belongings and necessities in the trunk, and started driving. C. G. maintained no permanent household, but traveled continually around the country and returned to Idaho during the summer season when the industry was not actively marketing fresh potatoes.

The Idaho Potato Commission representatives began participating in United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association conventions. This gave Rice and members of the Potato Commission an opportunity to establish the Idaho name with a large number of potential customers in a short period of time. A sizable exhibit area was part of the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable convention and Idaho early became one of the major exhibitors. C. G. Rice worked with prominent potato grower Joe Marshall and Boise exhibit designer Jack Eisenberg to produce large displays featuring hundreds of pounds of select Idaho® potatoes.

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