PROTIP: Press 'i' to view the image gallery, 'v' to view the video gallery, or 'r' to view a random entry.
“I Can Count to Potato” is a controversial catchphrase that is meant to indicate a lack of intelligence and usually paired with photographs of people who appear to have been diagnosed with learning disabilities. The phrase is sometimes used in image boards and forums in reacting to comments that are deemed unintelligent. Due to the insensitive nature of the meme, it has been criticized for perpetuating ableism, a type of discrimination against people with disabilities.
The phrase “I can count to potato” was first used in the 2005 comedy film The Ringer in which con man Steve Barker (played by Johnny Knoxville) pretends to be mentally disabled in order to compete in the Special Olympics. The phrase can be heard at 1:14 in the following clip where Barker rehearses his performance in the mirror:
A “count to potato” t-shirt was submitted to CafePress on January 10th, 2006. The earliest known image macro featuring a photo of reality television star Heidi Montag was posted on the celebrity meme blog ROFL Razzi on November 8th, 2008.
An image macro of a young boy with down syndrome was submitted to The Chive on February 24th, 2009. Another photograph of a smiling young girl set to an Advice Dog color wheel background was submitted to FunnyJunk on September 20th. Redditor Hipll claimed that the photo of the girl spread across the Internet after her parents published it in their book Surprise Package: When God Turns Your Life Upside Down’s.
On February 9th, 2010, a post titled “Ching Chong Potato” was submitted to FunnyJunk with a photo of an asian male with down-syndrome appearing to be conducting an orchestra accompanied by the caption “and-a one and-a four and a ching chong potato.” The image was subsequently posted on Tumblr, deviantArt and inspired the creation of a Facebook page. On 4chan, “count to potato” images are often used as a combo breaker in “count to X” threads, as seen in an archived thread from May 28th, 2010.
On December 19th, 2011, a Scumbag Steve derivative was submitted to the /r/adviceanimals subreddit and reached the front page accumulating over 8,500 upvotes within a month. The post was subsequently criticized for being ableist in the /r/ShitRedditSays subreddit the same day. As of February 15th, 2011, an “I can count to potato” Facebook page has 459 likes, a Quickmeme page for “U are so potato” has 29 submissions and there are 30 Yahoo Answers questions mentioning “count to potato”.
On April 13th 2012, BBC News program Midlands Today aired a segment on the controversial meme, revealing the identity of the subject of the image macro series as a 16-year-old British teenager Heidi Crowter.
On April 25th 2012, U.K. daily paper The Sun published an article titled “Web trolls put picture of Down’s girl on Facebook with vile caption.” According to the article, the photos of Heidi as a toddler were originally uploaded to a support group website for parents with children who had been diagnosed with Down’s syndrome. Heidi’s mother, Liz Crowter, first found the photo of her daughter in September 2011 on a Facebook page insulting people with learning disabilities.
The Sun article also reported that Crowter contacted the police and Facebook to seek removal of the photos of her daughter, but the verbal abuse by Facebook trolls continued to resurface despite her complaints. Regarding her correspondence with Facebook employees, she complained that they have so far failed to respond in a timely fashion:
“It’s almost like Faceless rather than Facebook, we have been repeatedly trying to take these distressing sites down and I have not once had a direct response." … “These trolls are cowardly, nasty people who should be punished for the damage they are doing to people with their comments.” … “Heidi has told me she is very upset by the sites and she turns her head away when we have them on the computer screen.”