Yams and sweet potatoes are not the same thing, here's why

Yams and Sweet Potatoes Are Not the Same Thing, Here's Why

Whether you're planning your Thanksgiving meal or like to throw a little starch in your summer salads, its important to know the difference between yams and sweet potatoes.

These tips to help tell the difference might just avoid the dreaded Wikipedia emergency when you want to sound really smart in front of your friends.

SEE ALSO: 8 food safety tips to remember this Thanksgiving

Yams come from different plant all together -- they're of the family Dioscoreacea, while sweet potatoes belong to the family Convolvulaceae. The two veggies also originate from different parts of the world -- yams from Asia and Africa and sweet potatoes from the tropical Americas.

On the outside, they are actually different. Sweet potatoes can have red purple yellow and orange skins while yams are brown and hairy. Yams are also way harder to find -- the grocery store yam you just bought is probably a sweet potato.

Sweet potatoes are sweet and moist, while yams are starchy and dry.

The yam and sweet potato Wikipedia fiasco stems from the colonial era when the orange variety of sweet potatoes were called yams. The US Department of Agriculture went with it, labeling them as such to distinguish the two varieties.

Whether its yams or sweet potatoes, just add a lot of butter ... mmmm butter!

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