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Today’s Google Doodle Honors Scientist Eva Ekeblad, to Whom We Owe Vodka and Other Potato-Based Miracles

If you went online today, you’ll see a Google Doodle of a woman’s profile made with potato and flour. The image honors Eva Ekeblad, a scientist to whom we we owe many potato-based innovations.

At a time when potatoes were still relatively rare among the masses and not the staples that we recognize today (can you imagine?), the scientist grew her own after hearing that they could be made to create alcoholic drinks. Ekeblad conducted experiments and brought potato flour to Europe during Sweden’s food crises. Since the vegetable could be made into potato-based alcohol, other plants like oats, rye, and barley could then be used for food. Huffington Post points out that while Ekeblad did not pioneer the idea of potato-based alcohol, her method was “the most advanced of the time.”

The descriptions writes:

“Today we celebrate Eva Ekeblad’s 293rd birthday. The Swedish scientist brought potatoes, then a greenhouse curiosity, to the people. Eva discovered the starch was humble but mighty – potatoes could be ground into flour or distilled into spirits. Her discovery helped reduce famine in years to come.

For her scientific and delicious work, Eva Ekeblad became the first woman elected to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1748. She was truly a pioneer – the next woman recognized in those ranks would come 203 years later.”

Yes, that’s right, another woman wouldn’t be inducted until Lise Meitner was admitted in 1951. The Independent cites “archaic gender by-laws” that meant even “Ekeblad’s membership of the society downgraded to honorary status in 1751,” but her achievements truly speak for themselves.

Also incredibly fascinating: her sister-in-law Catherine Charlotte De La Gardie “[invented] a smallpox vaccine and [intervened] to stop Sweden’s last witch trial in Dalarna in 1758.” These women were born among nobility, but used their influence and energy to do good. What an amazing pair!

Happy birthday Eva Ekeblad, we’ll enjoy some delicious potatoes and vodka in your honor.

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