Yellow-fleshed potatoes are common in Europe and South America. In fact, yellow flesh potatoes are actually considered the norm in most countries outside North America, so naturally, immigrants to North America were accustomed to and preferred potatoes with yellow flesh.
This untapped market was begging for an enhanced, disease-resistant gold variety which could be easily grown in North America. We have the potato-breeding program of the University of Guelph in Canada to thank for the Yukon Gold. Led by potato breeder Dr. Gary Johnston and sponsored by Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, a research team spent years experimenting, finally achieving success by cross-breeding a North American white potato (Norgleam) with a wild South American yellow-fleshed variety (W5279-4). 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 soon began exportation to the United States.
Other Gold Potatoes
There are other gold-fleshed varieties on the market, including Yellow Finn, Michigold, Donna, Delta Gold, Banana, and Saginaw Gold, but none of these yet have achieved the name recognition of the Yukon Gold. Yukon Golds are slightly flat and oval in shape with light gold, thin skin, and light yellow flesh. They can be identified by the rosy pink coloration of the shallow eyes.
Anthoxanthins are the compound that gives the gold potato its beautiful yellow color. These flavonoids are also found in onions, apples, and cauliflower.
Consumption of fresh white potatoes in the United States has actually been declining. The new interest in gold potatoes on a consumer level, for both visual appeal as well as taste, has boosted the potato market. Yet it is still unlikely the gold potato will ever attain the popularity of the standard white potato.