Like many people a bunch of us, including 75% of this blog's editorial board and 100% of its active contributors, participated in a Millennium Eve party in December 1999. As I recall the easiest way to get your glass re-filled (and hence temporarily hinder your conversation) was to grumble that we were all a year early.
Nevertheless, we soldiered on, and as we watched the procession of New Year's celebrations by countries with the poor taste to be situated outside the Eastern Standard Time Zone, we held a more-or-less structured discussion of the "Great Figures of the Millenium." Surprisingly, at least as far as I know, this was not JJV's idea even though that sort of thing usually has his fingerprints all over it. (Not that his contribution wasn't edifying. Who knew that Reagan had such an impact on the Counter-Reformation?)
I took the counterintuitive approach and took as my subject for Greatest Impact Figure (or whatever the rubric was; the organizers are encouraged to comment on this) the otherwise lowly potato. I based this on the tuber's profound impact on European demographics (short version: it made everything possible). Perhaps it was because we had not begun drinking in earnest, but I found my thesis met with quasi-polite disbelief. My failure to mention Churchill's role in introducing the potato to the West cost me at least one vote in the final balloting.
Clearly I am not bitter about this, but I was delighted to see that someone has written a book on the very same subject advancing much the same viewpoint. If it was written by one of the attendees under a nom de plume I shall be wroth.