Vox

Sweet potatoes and yams: What’s the difference?

Are yams actually on your Thanksgiving plate this year?

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Many Americans are under the impression that sweet potatoes and yams are the same classic Thanksgiving dish — but the truth is that the two root vegetables are nothing alike. They look and taste completely different, hail from different parts of the world, and in the US you can’t even find yams at most conventional grocery stores.

Then why do so many American stores label sweet potatoes as yams? The misnomer is partly due to branding strategy, and partly due to a specific evolution of language — one that stems from the slave trade.

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