Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Remember Mr. Potato Head...?

I had one of these as a kid, as did the majority of the kids I knew!

Simple, fun, and creative! This was one of those toys that you could play with for hours and hours, depending on just how active your imagine was! As you can imagine, mine was pretty active!

Ya know, maybe I should get another "Mr. Potato Head" kit! My imagination is still fairly active...at least for a older person like myself!

On May 1, 1952, the Hassenfeld Bros. toy company — later, and currently, Hasbro — brought to market a toy, Mr. Potato Head. Selling for $0.98, the toy was instantly popular, selling over one million units in its first year. Mr. Potato Head has since permeated popular culture, appearing in the Toy Story trilogy, in its own television show, and in a variety of commercials.

From the start, Mr. Potato Head has been defined by his parts — goofy eyes, protruding ears, a huge nose, and of course, a mustache. He also came replete with a pipe, but in 1987, he made a major accessory change. Mr. Potato Head donated the pipe to a great cause, eschewing smoking to help the American Cancer Society promote its efforts to end tobacco use.

But the biggest change to the iconic toy came in 1964, when government regulations caused Hasbro to add a new part to the kit — the large plastic potato-like head.

As originally designed in 1949 by inventor George Lerner, Mr. Potato Head’s parts were to be used in actual fruits and vegetables — not in a plastic toy vessel included in the package. In fact, an early, pre-Hasbro version of the toy was sold piecemeal, as inserts in cereal boxes. As pictured below (larger version here), the original Mr. Potato Head was headless. The box (if not a bucket) of mere parts calls the toy a “kit.” The packaging states that with the parts, “any fruit or vegetable makes a funny face man.”

What happened in 1964, giving us the plastic head? The government required that toys meet certain safety guidelines, and the parts included in the original Mr. Potato Head set proved too sharp. Hasbro rounded the points of the insertion pegs, but in doing so, made it too difficult to stick the parts into fruits and vegetables. As a work-around, Hasbro came up with the plastic toy head we are familiar with today.

I might mention here that Mr. Potato Head was also the first toy to be advertised on television in ads which targeted children (in favor of their parents). Pretty cool, huh?

I have tea and fresh coffee ready for the patio. I'll see if I can come up with some cookies somewhere, OK?


Gorges Smythe said...

Maybe you could buy a new set and SHARPEN the points! (Evil laugh!)

Phyllis (N/W Jersey) said...

We had a lot of fun with the original one when we were kids. It was the only time Mom didn't say "Stop playing with your food"!
The game is probably no fun now. You have to put the pieces in the little holes the government provides on the plastic potato.
Remember the game "Cootie"?
I'll bring a box of Lorna Doones.

Sixbears said...

I remember the game with real potatoes. Dang, I'm getting old.

Momlady said...

I loved Mr. Potato Head, and I remember Cootie. Not many kids toys are as fun these days.

Dizzy-Dick said...

Yep, I am old enough, had one with the sharp points and had a lot of fun with it. My kids had a plastic potato, not near as much fun, not messy enough.

linda m said...

I had a Mr. Potato Head - the original one you stuck the parts into potatoes. We had a blast. My son had the newer version and really didn't play with it much because he always had to stick the parts into the same holes - no creativity involved. I also had the "cootie" which my mother kept so my son was able to play with it. I have some "crullers" I can bring.

JOJO said...

I remember how much fun Mr. Potato was too. It was more fun to use real stuff. You could use your imagination to do all kinds of silly things.

I will bring some kind of cookies too. How about some pecan sandies

Ian said...

Yep, I remember them. I worked for a few and helped elect a few.

BBC said...

Never fucking wanted one.