An extremely common variety of potato in North America, the russet, russet burbank, or burbank potato is a principal crop in Idaho and hence is also often called the Idaho potato. This oval, slightly long potato has smooth or rough russet (brownish red) brown skin and numerous eyes; the flesh is pale but flavourful and floury, and so will make the perfect baked potato, though it's also good for mashed potatoes and french fries.
We owe this popular spud to the perseverance of horticulturalist Luther Burbank, who produced this variety from an Early Rose potato plant that he grew in his garden in 1872. Burbank had been watching the plant through the growing season because he wanted to use its single fruit to produce seedlings, but was perturbed to find that the fruit had disappeared. He searched for it for some days and eventually found it; from this seedball he found 23 seeds and so grew 23 seedlings. He discovered that one of the seedlings yielded more and larger tubers than any he had yet grown, and so he tested the new variety, which proved itself in 1874. He sold a sample of his potato for $150 to one J.H. Gregory of Marblehead, Massachusetts, utilizing his profits to move to California with 10 tubers that Gregory had let him keep. In those days this variety was known as the burbank potato, and Burbank's original 10 spuds were the nuclear stock for the burbank variety grown across the American west coast.
Burbank's original tubers had smooth skins, but in 1914 Lou Sweet, a farmer in Colorado, discovered a mutation of the burbank which had a rough, reticulated skin. Though it was uglier, this new variety was more resistant to blight, so it soon spread across North America.
Russets are apparently the potato used to make McDonald's fries.