(Sept. 13) “So join us here each week my friends. You’re sure to get a smile, from seven stranded castaways, here on Gilligan’s Isle.”

The Idaho Potato Commission hopes its latest retail promotion will do more than just stir the memories of Baby Boomers and others that grew up in the 1970s watching “Gilligan’s Island” reruns.

The promotion was announced during the Idaho Grower Shippers Association convention Sept. 2 in Sun Valley, Idaho.

The commission will use three of the S.S. Minnow’s surviving cast members as a life preserver to help rescue sagging retail potato sales at its booth at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit 2004 Oct. 17-19 in Anaheim, Calif.

Since last fall, the commission has been using Dawn Wells, the actress who played Mary Ann, to help promote Idaho potatoes.

She, along with Bob Denver, who played Gilligan, and Russell Johnson, who played the professor, will appear at the commission’s booth for photos and autographs.

“Most of these retail VPs are my age and have grown up with ‘Gilligan’s Island,’” said Seth Pemsler, the commission’s vice president of retail merchandising. “The opportunity to see the cast members after all of these years will be kind of fun.”

Idaho shippers will be allowed to invite their retail customers to an invitation-only PMA reception sponsored by the commission.

Booth visitors will play a computer potato trivia game before receiving the digitally autographed pictures.

An Idaho resident, Wells has been a part of the commission’s public relations program since she asked the commission to help sponsor her family film and music festival and acting academy in the Grand Tetons area of Driggs, Idaho.

Wells, who played a small-town Kansas girl on Gilligan’s Island, has been promoting Idaho potatoes by holding the commission’s Spuddy Buddy mascot in television interviews such as one on NBC’s “The Today Show.” She asked her show colleagues to appear with her at PMA, Pemsler said.