The Potato Fried

A Wayno cartoon from 4/11/16, an exercise in cartoon understanding:

(#1) “My name is Idaho Montoya. You peeled my father. Prepare to fry.”

(See the comments. It turns out that Wayno’s original was wordless, so this caption was added by some wag  — who deserves credit.)

If you don’t get a crucial reference, the cartoon is just silly, two cartoon potatoes having a duel with potato peelers. So you need to recognize that the figures are anthropomorphized potatoes, and that the things they are wielding are potato peelers. Then there are potato references in each sentence of the challenge: Idaho, famously a source of potatoes in the US; peeling, a step in preparing potatoes for many sorts of dishes; and frying, one common method of cooking potatoes (in French fries, for instance).

You will probably also catch the groaner pun in Prepare to fry, based on the stock expression from popular adventure fiction, Prepare to die.

But otherwise, it’s just a bit of fanciful silliness. In fact, it’s rich and complex, if you’re in on the jokes.

Note 1 on the above: peelers. From Wikipedia:

(#2) A Linden Sweden Jonas peeler, on the left in #1; the potato on the right is using a straight peeler with a fixed handle

A peeler (vegetable scraper) is a kitchen tool consisting of a metal blade with a slot with a sharp edge attached to a handle, used to remove the outer layer (the “skin” or “peel”) of some vegetables such as potatoes, broccoli stalks, and carrots, and fruits such as apples and pears. A paring knife may also be used to peel vegetables. The blade of a peeler has a slot with one side sharpened; the other side of the slot prevents the blade from cutting too far into the vegetable.

… Swivel peelers have the blade mounted on a pivot; the angle of the blade self-adjusts as pressure is applied, increasing ease of use.

The Jonas peeler, designed in Sweden in 1953, is a straight design with a pivoting blade attached to the end of an oblong metal loop handle, which is held like a knife. A shaft runs through the length of the handle. The blade has two edges to enable use in either direction, and by either hand. While often copied, the original is still made by Linden Sweden. For many decades, it has been the standard type of peeler in the United States.

Note 2 on the above: prepare to die. From the TV Tropes entry on “Prepare to Die”:

A form of Pre-Mortem One-Liner where the utterer has determined in advance that he is going to kill someone, indicating to the other person that he has no chance to survive. Frequently uttered by villains, but may also be uttered by heroes depending on their Character Alignment.

… Variations in this Stock Phrase frequently manifest as substitutions for the word “die,” depending on the situation, or the age group it’s catering to. Its most common variation is “Prepare to be destroyed!”

The stock expression is venerable. From John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678):

Then Apollyon straddled quite over the whole breadth of the way, and said, “I am void of fear in this matter, prepare thyself to die; for I swear by my infernal Den, that thou shalt go no further; here will I spill thy soul.”

The crucial reference. Things get immeasurably better if you know this line from the movie The Princess Bride:

“My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

— in a swordfight scene between Inigo Montoya (played by Mandy Patinkin) and Count Tyrone Rugen (played by Christopher Guest), which you can watch here (#3). From Wikipedia:

(#4) Montoya and Rugen cross swords

The Princess Bride is a 1987 American fantasy adventure comedy film directed and co-produced by Rob Reiner, starring Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Wallace Shawn, André the Giant, and Christopher Guest.

Now we see that #1 has not just one pun, but a cascade, one per sentence: Idaho / Inigo, peeled / killed, fry / die. And there’s an elaborate correspondence between the world of dueling potato-men and the world of the duel scene from The Princess Bride — an entertaining juxtaposition of parallel worlds that enriches many cartoons. More on such juxtapositions in a moment. But first…

They aren’t just any dueling potatoes. They are in fact recognizable as cartoon versions of the Mr. Potato Head toy figure: see the links to the Potato Head cartoon meme in the Page on this blog on comic conventions. From Wikipedia:


Mr. Potato Head is an American toy consisting of a plastic model of a potato which can be decorated with a variety of plastic parts that can attach to the main body. These parts usually include ears, eyes, shoes, a hat, a nose, and a mouth. The toy was invented and developed by George Lerner in 1949, and first manufactured and distributed by Hasbro in 1952. Mr. Potato Head was the first toy advertised on television and has remained in production since its debut.

Parallel worlds. So we’ve got parallel pop-culture worlds going in #1: the fantasy world of anthropomorphized toy Potato Heads; and the fantasy world of The Princess Bride.

From my 9/10/09 posting “Him wear saurian monitor”:

[In a Bizarro cartoon,] the cavemen’s language combines elements from two worlds: the serious lexical stuff from the legal subworld of the modern everyday world, the structure around it from the fictive world of cavemen. Correspondingly, the topic of the cartoon is Zog’s legal tale, but the artwork is all make-believe caveman.

And the humor comes from the juncture between the two worlds, in the caveman correspondent to an ankle bracelet, a saurian (a lizard of some sort, perhaps a small dinosaur) with its jaws firmly clamped down on Zog’s ankle.

On such juxtapositions of parallel worlds, on this blog:

on 8/4/18, in “Cultural knowledge”: translations of one world into another in 3 cartoons (Rhymes With Orange, Mother Goose and Grimm, Bizarro)

In each case, the cartoon shows some situation from everyday life (which you have to know about) juxtaposed with, or translated into, another more remarkable world (which you also need to know details of).

on 2/5/19, in “Aquatic carpentry”: a Bizarro with translation between worlds [a carpentry world and an undersea world populated by fish]

4 Responses to “The Potato Fried”

  1. J B Levin Says:

    Mr. Potato Head: Before 1964, the toy was just the plastic facial parts; as I first saw the thing, the child playing with it would use a real potato as the head. (I prefer to think of this version engaging in the duel.)

  2. waynocartoons Says:

    My cartoon was wordless, with no caption.

  3. kenru Says:

    The Wikipedia quote about “The Princess Bride” leaves out a vital and singular fact: the novel and screenplay were both written by William Goldman (one of my top 3 favorite novelists ever, let alone famed screenwriter.) The immortal line by Inigo Montoya could not exist without a writer to create it.

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