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'Flash Spudding': Potato Truck Overturns On North Carolina Highway

Commuters faced scenes of "mash destruction" this morning on Interstate 77 in Charlotte, N.C.

That's right — I-77 South was littered with spuds after a tractor-trailer overturned at around 2 a.m. ET Friday, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

We're talking about 50,000 pounds of potatoes, according to local news reports. The road was closed for hours, creating major traffic backups as authorities attempted to clear the tubers using tractors and snowplows.

The truck's driver said he fell asleep "and hit a barrier and overturned," state troopers told The Associated Press. The wire service adds that "he was taken to a hospital for injuries that did not appear to be serious."

Charlotte's WSOC-TV says the potato spill stretched for hundreds of yards. The first photos of the scene show the spuds glowing in the streetlights and covering the entire road.

Unfortunately, most of these taters probably aren't good to eat at this point because of a fuel spill, according to reporters at the scene.

However, The Charlotte Observer reports that "a few hundred pounds of potatoes had fallen into grass near an exit ramp, were not contaminated and would be donated to a food gleaning group."

Social media lit up with the news. Check out some of the reaction:

The Two-Way has a history of covering unusual roadway spills. Here are a few you might recall:

  • Fourteen million angry bees set loose in Idaho, where they terrorized rescue personnel and local television reporters. A "river of honey" was reported at the scene.
  • About 5,000 chickens escaped a truck in Northern California after two big rigs collided. As you might expect, they were "trying to cross the road" despite the efforts of rescue workers.
  • Thousands of piglets got loose from a truck in Ohio, and authorities spent hours trying to corral the animals.
  • And from member station KPCC, a wrecked truck spilled about 100 gallons of olive oil near Riverside, Calif.
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    Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.