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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Explained: Why ‘Mr’ was dropped from ‘Mr Potato Head’ toys

Toy making company Hasbro has decided to rebrand 'Mr Potato Head', dropping 'Mr' from the title. What is 'Mr Potato Head', and why is the company rebranding?

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: March 11, 2021 8:36:10 am
This photo provided by Hasbro shows the new Potato Head world. (Hasbro via AP)

Toy making company Hasbro has decided to rebrand ‘Mr Potato Head’, dropping ‘Mr’ from the title. The company, however, said the characters Mr and Mrs Potato Head “are not going anywhere”, and will continue to be called the same.

“Hold that Tot — your main spud, MR. POTATO HEAD isn’t going anywhere! While it was announced today that the POTATO HEAD brand name & logo are dropping the ‘MR.’ I yam proud to confirm that MR. & MRS. POTATO HEAD aren’t going anywhere and will remain MR. & MRS. POTATO HEAD,” the company said on Twitter.

Other brands in Hasbro’s portfolio include Monopoly, Playskool, Marvel and Transformers.

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What is Mr Potato Head?

Mr Potato Head is a line of toys that consists of different body parts and accessories such as a hat, ears, nose, shoes, pants and a plastic potato-shaped body that children can assemble on their own to form different figures.

According to an archived web page of the Hasbro website, the “personality” of Mr Potato Head was born in 1952 and was the first toy to be advertised on television.

However, the original Mr Potato Head toy consisted only of body parts including eyes, ears, a nose and a mouth. This meant that parents had to supply real potatoes or any other kind of vegetable to their children to complete the toy figure. This, however, changed in the early 1960s when the toy manufacturer started including a hard plastic potato body, which replaced the need to attach a real potato.

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As per “The Strong”, which describes itself as a collections-based museum devoted to the history and exploration of play, the idea for the toy was first thought up by toy inventor George Lerner, “who figured that vegetables with a little personality might have a better chance (and) created a set of silly face parts as bonuses for cereal box promotions.”

An article published in The Takeout says that at the time Lerner thought of this idea, World War II had just ended because of which people such as himself often took potatoes and other sturdy vegetables from the garden to create crude dolls for children in the family.

Lerner’s creation was acquired by Hasbro in 1952 and Mr Potato Head was followed by Mrs Potato Head, Spud, his brother, and Yam, his sister. In 1995 and 1998, Mr Potato Head was featured in the animated film series Toy Story and Toy Story 2.

So, why is the company rebranding?

News reports suggest the company is changing the name in an attempt to give the brand a gender-neutral makeover. In a press release, the company said it is officially renaming the line of toys sold under the brand Mr Potato Head “to better reflect the full line”.

While some have welcomed the decision, others have criticised the company, saying the move gives more fodder to the conservatives to mock LGBTQ people.

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