why do restaurants serve baked potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil

If you wish to save fuel and you're going to leave your warm house for a half hour or so on a very cold day, should you turn your thermostat down a few degrees, turn it off altogether, or let it remain at the room temperature you desire? Newton's law of cooling says that the rate of heat transfer is proportional to the temperature difference.

Reducing the temperature difference will reduce the amount of heat transferred, and turning down your thermostat may save you energy. I live in a fairly well-insulated house, and the furnace comes on a bit more often than every half hour on a cold day!
When we picture a baked potato, we picture it wrapped in shiny aluminum foil.

Why is that? Because restaurants serve them that way? Because our parents did it? We think we must have done it out of habit, without knowing the reason. Not anymore. Some say wrapping baked potatoes in aluminum foil helps them cook faster (aluminum conducts heat, then traps it), and it does keep them hot for longer once they come out of the oven, which is why we think restaurants use this method.

Wrapping potatoes will also give you a softer, steamed skin, if that's what you like. But we prefer our potato skin crispy and seasoned, so we rub our potatoes with olive oil and cover them with kosher salt before roasting them on a baking sheet (turning once or twice).

They don't seem to take a noticeably longer time to cook. The oil keeps the skin from getting too dry and papery, and it adds flavor that makes eating the skin all the more tasty.

And, of course, remember to pierce your potatoes. While we've never had one explode in our oven, the photo above is evidence that it can happen. How do you cook your baked potatoes? Related: (Image: Flickr member, licensed for use under