Now that's a big root: Sweet potatoes aren't tubers, or thickened stems, like potatoes. Sweet potatoes are roots — swollen and packed with starch. U-ichiro Murakami/ hide caption

itoggle caption U-ichiro Murakami/

NPR producer Olly Dearden is a fan of most classic Thanksgiving dishes, but calls sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows a "culinary abomination." Stephen Little/Flickr hide caption

itoggle caption Stephen Little/Flickr

A well-traveled root: A vendor sells sweet potatoes at a market near Manila in 2011. The Portuguese brought the root to the Philippines all the way from the Caribbean. Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images

Sweet potato evangelist Maria Isabel Andrade from the International Potato Center drives around Mozambique in her orange Toyota Land Cruiser. Dan Charles/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Dan Charles/NPR