Chatter and Chitter Heritage

One Potato Two Potato Three Potato Four

Choosing whos it by counting potatoes
Did you ever use the counting potatoes method for picking who was ‘it’ in a game? As kids we used it to tell us who was going to be the seeker while the rest of us hid, to tell us who was going to be blindfolded for an always dangerous game of blind mans bluff (some parent would usually scream-“you’re going to put an eye out”)-or even for something as tame as hide the key.

The choosing rhyme consists of everyone who’s playing standing in a circle with their fists out-then one person begins counting by hitting their fists on everyone else’s-1 potato 2 potato 3 potato 4 potato 5 potato 6 potato 7 potato-then instead of going on to 8 the fist they hit after 7 was ‘or’. The person whose fist was ‘or’ would place the ‘or’ fist behind their back-and the counting would start back at 1. Whoever was left with a fist in the circle would be ‘it’ for the game.

Sometimes we used ‘big potatoes’ instead of making 2 fists-each person laced their hands together to make one ‘big potato’ and the counting went the same way. Big potatoes were especially useful if there were lots of kids playing the game or you were in a hurry to get on with the game-as in one more game before Granny called me home.

A few weeks ago, a friend and I were talking about counting by potatoes to see who was going to be it-I hadn’t thought about counting potatoes in years. That night-I started thinking how kids today have so much to entertain them-how the old games we played are out of style. Just out of curiosity-I thought I’d ask the girls if they knew about potato counting.

Potato counting game
I called Chitter to me and said “if I say 1 potato 2 potato 3 potato 4 do you know what I’m talking about?” She said she thought I was crazy and left me standing in the kitchen. Later in the evening, I was sitting on the couch when Chatter came and sat down beside me. I ask her the same question. She said “what?” So I explained it again-even giving her the hint-it’s said when a bunch of kids are standing together in a circle. Chatter said “Momma I don’t know what you’re talking about. All I know is I like to dig them and I like to eat them.” Too cute uh?

So how about you-remember counting potatoes?


p.s. When the girls posed for the pictures I used above-Chitter said “Seriously, is this all you had to do when you were little?” I told her she didn’t know what she was missing.


You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Allen williams
    May 21, 2021 at 6:56 pm

    Hi guys im allen from zephyrhills pasco co.fl. How well i remember one potato two potato, im 49 years young thank u jesus. But figured while on the subject as kids we played the same games as had been mentioned in prior posts but we had a little different saying It started out this way Any-many-toot-sie- tany-oka-poka-don-ea- many-om-bomb-bi-ba-de-boo-out-goes-Y-O-U pardon the spellong
    Little food for tje soul….. Peace and God Bless

  • Reply
    January 5, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    Erik-thank you for the comment! You’re right hop scotch and double dutch are good ones too : )

  • Reply
    Erik M Gwynn
    January 4, 2017 at 11:02 pm

    Iwhat about hop scotch? Yet another game that i was also thinking of at the time of the potato and double dutch jump rope i seen kids do i wasent talented enough for that myself

  • Reply
    April 6, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Bette-thank you for the comment! We always said seven potato ore-but Im sure it was said more in other places too : ) like most rhymes and folk songs-the words get changed around sometimes : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Bette Richard
    April 6, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Heard my grandkids saying this rhyme but they said, seven potato more. I told my husband about it and he said they too used to say more?????

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    April 1, 2011 at 10:12 am

    we also did “oka baka soda cracker, oka baka boo! Oka baka soda cracker out goes you!. I took more than a bit of poetic license with spelling 🙂

  • Reply
    Nathanael Young
    January 23, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    This brings back some great memories.
    We used this all the time when we were kids.
    We always had great games and fun when our parents would kick us out of the house.
    I was just telling my wife about this and had to look it up to show her I wasn’t crazy.
    Kids are missing out on a lot of great outdoor games these days.

  • Reply
    June 6, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    I remember using one potato, two patato when I was young … that being many, many moons ago. 🙂 We didn’t play many games that needed it though as our favorite games were jacks and chinese jump rope. Thanks for bringing back the memory though. xxoo

  • Reply
    Steve Allen
    May 29, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    Never thought we would ever be thought of as old when we were growing up and hearing the tales told by oldtimers. It always strikes me as cute but kinda sad when I can relate to the stuff we now have in common with our parents. That is the telling of things that are drifting away with our generation and will soon be gone. Looking back we sure could entertain ourselves when we had to. I guess when I see myself in the foot steps of my parents it is sad because I know they have passed this way and shall never be my age again and soon I will be in their shoes and wondering more and more where life has gone.
    Steve in
    Florence KY

  • Reply
    May 29, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    Anastasia-counting sheep-how neat is that!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk
    All at

  • Reply
    Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski
    May 28, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    Dear Tipper,
    Congratulations! I am paying forward the Ancestor Approval Award and am bestowing this award to the Blind Pig and the Acorn.
    You can pick up your award at
    Congratulations! Your efforts deserve applause, kudos and high fives!

  • Reply
    May 28, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    As a child, I loved playing hide and seek but instead of saying 1 potato, 2 potato etc, we’d say 1 sheep, 2 sheep , 3 sheep and the OR was followed by a dramatic:”Where’s the black sheep?”
    ~PS~ I love Chatter’s reasoning! She’s adorable!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 28, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Oh yes, I remember the potato count to see who is “it”. It’s a different world now, no hand made toys, no marbles. I used to love marbles. Guess the kids are making new memories!!
    Did the Deer Hunter know the potato count? I can’t remember whether he did that or not.
    Thanks for the memories!lol

  • Reply
    May 28, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Hi Tipper, Kids today do think that we had very boring lives WAY BACK THEN, don’t they???? I remember One Potato Two potatoes, etc… WELL…..
    I also remember Kick the Can, Post Office, Hopscotch, Jacks, badminton, Red Rover, etc…. We had wonderful lives —and I wish my grands had more of a life like I did rather than one with cellphones, video games, texting, etc…..

  • Reply
    May 28, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Stacey-I’ve never heard the one you quoted-neat!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk
    All at

  • Reply
    May 28, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    My son knew of this game, but doesn’t use/play it. I played this many times as a kid. It was always the best time when a group of kids got together and played games. Outdoor games, not video games!

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    May 28, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Yes we were one potato, two potato counters when we were kids…
    Also played kick-the-can until late (10:30 or 11:00 PM) on a summer eveing while the “old folks” and visiting neighbors sat around and talked on the porch or in the yard….
    Don’t just love the smell of the honeysuckle on a warm spring evening….
    I’m catching up the best I can on your blog….back for a day…
    Got the seeds planted…on the off and on days…We’ll see how it goes….Miss this blog read every day I’m gone!

  • Reply
    May 28, 2010 at 10:03 am

    That was wonderful! I was glad to see that my EBet knew of that game. I’m never quite sure what I forgot to teach them and what they took in.

  • Reply
    May 28, 2010 at 9:23 am

    Oh yeah, I remember! You are right, the kids nowadays don’t know what they are missing.
    Counting potatoes goes right along with pulling the petal off daisies and making clover necklaces.
    Funny how we were two states away from eachother, but have the same memories.

  • Reply
    Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski
    May 28, 2010 at 8:09 am

    Thanks for the memory, Tipper! One potato, two potato was also played by young girls many moons ago in north central Wisconsin. I plan on conducting my own ‘survey’ tomorrow when my mother and my 20 something niece come to visit and will ask them about one potato … terrific blog Tipper. I so enjoy visiting.

  • Reply
    Dee from Tennessee
    May 27, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    This is a off topic …but today we had a sudden storm with booming thunder and the whole nine yards . I dashed to roll up car windows and when I returned I casually mentioned that my husband’s aunt was struck by lightening yrs ago as she went to get clothes from the clothesline. Guess what? I don’t think all the kids realized what a clothesline was/is.
    Oh, they’re singing “Unclouded Day” right now…love it — I used to knew what page number it was in the brown hymnal. Great picking too…

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    May 27, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    Tipper: That is a game from too far back in the memory. I think I always loved Kick-the-Can and Red Rover the best.

  • Reply
    Sallie Covolo
    May 27, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    I remember counting potatoes..and also remember something like Draw a semi simie circle and dot it with a d-o-t- spells dot, Then the person who had the circle drawn on their back had to guess who dotted the circle. While everyone chanted” Which little finger did it dot?” I also remember, “Bum, Bum Bum, here we come.
    The other side;”Where y’all from?”
    our side:”Pretty Girls Station”
    The other side,”Then get to work and show us something”
    Whereas we pantomimed some action we had decided on before we came over there.
    If they guessed it they chased us, and if they caught any of us, that person had to go over on their side.
    I also remember, “There ain’t no bears out tonight, father killed them all last night.” chanted while marching down the road or sidewalk. the bear came and chased us and if any one was caught, they had to be the bear.”

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    May 27, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    One potato, two potato, three potato, four. Five potato six potato, seven potato or (and if you didn’t like the way it ended here , you kept going) My mother told me to pick this very one – you dirty dish rag YOU!

  • Reply
    May 27, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    I know the potato rhyme but never used it – we used eeny, meeny, miney moe … I bet the girls know rock, paper, scissors!

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    May 27, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    I had also totally forgotten about this ‘game’ that we played over and over and over. I’m going to have to share this with my granddaughter .. I think I’ll get the same response out of her as you did from your two girls. LOL

  • Reply
    Nancy M.
    May 27, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    I had forgotten! But, you brought back memories of doing that as a child!

  • Reply
    May 27, 2010 at 11:48 am

    I loved 1 potato 2 potato! We didn’t play it very often but when we did I had fun, in fact when the last potato was left I had wished we could do it again.

  • Reply
    Julie at Elisharose
    May 27, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Oh, my gosh! Me, too. I just tried it on my daughter and she had no idea what I was talking about. Of course, we did it as kids. How come so many of the stupid jokes we used to tell have made it but one potato two potato didn’t. We must all get together and make sure this practice doesn’t die with our generation!

  • Reply
    May 27, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Reading this post I all of a sudden feel old.

  • Reply
    canned quilter
    May 27, 2010 at 10:59 am

    OMG I have not thought of counting potatoes in years. What memories!

  • Reply
    May 27, 2010 at 10:18 am

    Oh my. I do remember the potato counting. The girls are so funny and true to today. I like eating them too, but we’ll see how my growing goes.
    It seems as if they are saying 1 potato, 2 potato…..

  • Reply
    May 27, 2010 at 9:04 am

    you are so very right about they don’t know what they are missing. we did this so many times and played all the OUTDOOR and FREE games, red rover come over, mother may I, hide and seek, hop scotch.. no computers no TV not even a radio in our house when we were growing up. it is good you are telling about it because the last two generations have lost all of it

  • Reply
    Farm Chick Paula
    May 27, 2010 at 8:20 am

    Boy do I remember that well! That is so funny what Chitter said- they really don’t know what they’re missing! *LOL*

  • Reply
    May 27, 2010 at 8:17 am

    I loved all the ways that we decided who was “it”. How bout “Ocka bocka soda croca, ocka bocka boo. In comes Uncle Sam out goes you”. And you could actually cheat at this one a bit… if you don’t want the person to be out that “you” lands on then you spell out Y-O-U. lol, I never did that, of course 🙂

  • Reply
    Patty Hall
    May 27, 2010 at 8:14 am

    Yes, I remember this! And ‘eenie, meenie, minie moe”.
    Aw. you bring back such good memories. Thanks
    Patty H.

  • Reply
    John Dilbeck
    May 27, 2010 at 7:43 am

    Good morning, Tipper.
    I haven’t thought of “counting potatoes” in ages, but as soon as you mentioned it, I remembered all those times when we were playing and someone had to be “it.”
    I never heard of the “big potato” method of linking both fists together to choose more quickly.
    When we were doing it (over 40 years ago), we would say “more” instead of “or.” I don’t know why.
    I’m going to have to ask my grandkids later today if they know what this means. They already think I’m weird! (grin)
    All the best,

  • Reply
    Just Jackie
    May 27, 2010 at 7:40 am

    It is so sad that kids are not playing the games we did. We used one potato. (How else could you choose??) We played tag, Red Rover, I played Jacks until I had callouses on my hand. I loved to play marbles but the boys didn’t like to lose to a girl. And I wish I could jump rope like I used too. I’m so glad my life was so simple.

  • Leave a Reply