When you go to the store to purchase yams, do you know what you're really getting? Although you might think you're getting a yam, you're probably just getting a regular sweet potato without even knowing it.
Don't feel fooled. Many people use the two terms interchangeably, but there really is a physical difference between yams and sweet potatoes. Yams are typically drier, firmer, and starchier than sweet potatoes, while the latter is softer and sweeter.
Most stores and supermarkets label sweet potatoes as yams because they're traditionally recognized that way, but the USDA requires these stores to note somewhere on the same sign that you're really buying a type of sweet potato.
Chances are, the confusion won't make a difference in your everyday life. Most people prefer the taste and texture of sweet potatoes to yams despite the confusion in the names. Still, it's good to spread awareness that there's certainly a distinction between the two.