Spudman vs Jasons Jackets- who wins the Grand Potato Mash-up?

Jasons Jackets
A photo of the Jasons Jackets trailer in Ventura Park, Tamworth. Photo: Lily Davies.

You cannot fail to have noticed that Tamworth has gone spud-mad after Spudman, the charming fellow with the pink mohawk, started promoting his jacket potato business on TikTok. 

People have been coming from far and wide to queue up for hours to try one of his so-called gourmet potatoes, with the resounding question: was all that travelling and waiting worth it?

@spudarmy

That is definitely a long way for a jacket, potato all the way from America #bakedpotato #jacketpotato #spudarmy #spudman

♬ original sound – spudman

And while we’re on the subject, let’s take a look at the friendly competition that comes in the form of a sleek grey trailer about ten minutes away in Ventura Park, Tamworth.

Of course, I’m talking about Jasons Jackets.

Both have incredibly humble origins.  Spudman, also known as Ben Newman, 39, began trading over 20 years ago in St Editha’s Square market.

Spudman's van
A photo of Spudmans van in Tamworth outside the church (Photo by Lily Davies)

After a health scare, Spudman began his jacket potato journey in the hope of saving up for treatment for his kidney disease.

But three failed transplants later, he set his sights on a new goal.

He embarked on a successful journey with dialysis and has said he’s now saving up his funds to give to charity and to go towards buying his own house.

Meanwhile, Tamworth local of 86 years, Rosemary Lakin, was able to shed some light on the more obscure origins of Jasons Jackets.

“Jason’s has been around since 1994 or so, and for most people, he’s been serving food out of that trailer for as long as they can remember!”

Mrs Lakin opened up about knowing the owners of Jasons Jackets quite well when they first started out.

“I used to work at Currys PC World in Ventura Park right around that time, and we all sort of knew one another back then.

“Jason himself was a 16-year-old kid at the time, and he and his dad started the business together so later on down the line, Jason could take over.”

She also divulged that Jasons Jackets “started out of a van” before changing to a stationary trailer. 

So while both are spud salesmen and both are just working to earn an honest living, we want to know who does it better! 

I took to Instagram and asked the people of Tamworth: Would you rather have a jacket potato from Spudman or Jason’s Jackets?

And the answer is…

A resounding 50-50, which considering Spudman’s internet fame, could be seen as quite surprising.

An Instagram Poll Sticker showing a 50-50 result
An Instagram Poll sticker that shows a 50-50 result on whether people would rather have a Spudman or a Jasons Jacket potato (Photo by Lily Davies)

 

@spudarmy

more freebies #tamworth #spudarmy #spudman #bakedpotato #jacketpotato

♬ original sound – spudman

 

In spite of Ben’s new-found fame, people still love him and he seems to be relatively humble. 

Check out this interview where he talks about his service and how he feels about the popularity.

Molly Mae Kelly, 22, another Tamworth local who moved to Liverpool four years ago said the city is jumping on trains in hordes to get a spud from him!

“It’s such a rogue town and so many of my Scouse mates are travelling just to get a Spudman jacket, which is so strange because now whenever people ask where I went to school, they all know it because of Spudman!”

So with all this soaring popularity, you’d think the figures would be more in Spudman’s favour, what gives? 

Could the 50-50 result also be down to the amount of time Jason’s Jackets has been trading?

An anonymous responder to the Instagram poll said: “Jason’s has always been there and my family always went there, I wouldn’t want to get a jacket potato from anywhere else just because of that loyalty and trust.”

Another anonymous commenter puts it a bit more simply by saying: “TikTok is bad.”

So maybe that is the anti-climactic conclusion.

The spuds are spuds, whether you get them from one van or another.

And with Spudman’s popularity, maybe it isn’t actually about the jacket potatoes, and maybe it never was. 

It’s the fact he is a charismatic and outgoing guy who presents himself as an open book and is very good at self-promotion, and Jason’s Jackets have been loyally serving up bacon butties and spuds since before half the people on TikTok were born.

We know one thing for sure though, if you ever fancy a nice baked potato, you’re spoiled for choice if you go to Tamworth!