Mailing A Potato – A Case Study in USPS and Customers Working Together

Posted on July 21, 2017

We were asked by Cards Against Humanity, a novelty card game, to help them complete a “wacky” project. They had decided to mail individual potatoes to bring awareness to something that was important to them and their customers.

CAH-Potato-FirstMailed-March272017Over 2000 of their customers wanted to participate. Each potato would have a sticker with that customer’s name affixed to it.

It was important that the potato (and sponsor sticker!) be visible upon receipt.

CAH and Hensley worked with the USPS staff to figure out the best way to do this. Although, the USPS would ideally like all irregular items to be shipped inside a cardboard box, this would not meet the key goal of visibility. But, equally important to our customer was to not waste food while making their point, if they could avoid it.

We held a Potato Summit at Hensley where CAH, USPS and our staff worked through each phase of the project.  Besides the topics you might expect – packaging options, postage costs, tracking options, delivery timing, we had to get a decision by the USPS experts on type of potato. Russet potato was the only option. Yukon Gold and Red Skinned are too fragile to withstand the USPS machinery processing!

The next step was to mail a test. From this, we determined that air holes were necessary to minimize food waste. Our staff drilled holes into 2000+ plastic bags so the potatoes would not spoil during delivery.

Once all the details were finalized, our staff got to work. We prepared shipping labels, bagged the potatoes and worked directly with USPS transportation to pick up the shipments to maximize efficiency for both the USPS and our customer. The customer paid First Class postage, plus an irregular parcel surcharge for the project.

MaxTemkinTweet1I have worked at Hensley for 19 years and this is by far one of my favorite projects due to the cooperation and creativity of each of the participants. We turned “wacky” into reality.


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