Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Day to Honor to Our Favorite Plastic Spud

Raise your hand if you, or your children, or your grandchildren, have ever owned - or played with - one of these, in some form or other:

Did you raise your hand? You know you did, and so did I, and so did a whole boatload of other folks. In fact, millions of kids - and former kids - have had a blast playing with this most versatile toy. 

And on May 1st, we all have the perfect excuse to play again, because that's the anniversary of the the day, back in 1952, when Mr. Potato Head was first released for sale. The original toy was quite different from the one sold today:

Photo Credit: National Institute of Health "About Faces" Exhibit

Invented by George Lerner, who eventually sold his idea to Hasbro, Inc., Mr. Potato Head cost 98 cents when he made his debut. The set came with 28 pieces, including: eyes, ears, noses, hands, feet, mouths, hats, eyeglasses, felt facial hair, and a tobacco smoking pipe. It had everything an imaginative kid would need to create all manner of silly potato heads, save one thing: the potato. Kids had to convince Mom and Dad to hand over a real spud to be able to play with the toy. It wasn't until 1964 that the iconic plastic potato was included in Mr. Potato Head sets.

From those humble beginnings, Mr. Potato Head has thrived, becoming a toy with significant staying power, and quite an interesting history:

On April 30, 1952, Mr. Potato Head became the first toy ever to be advertised on television, and was marketed directly to children (also a first).

In 1985, Mr. Potato Head received four write-in votes in the Boise, Idaho mayoral election.

Mr. Potato Head gave up his tobacco pipe, to none other than C. Everett Koop, during the 1987 Great American Smokeout.

For his 40th birthday, Mr. Potato Head decided he would no longer be a "couch potato," for which he received a special award from the President's Council for Physical Fitness, in a ceremony on the White House Lawn.

Photo Credit:

Mr. Potato Head even took a star turn: first in the blockbuster animated movie Toy Story, then in Toy Story 2, and then in Toy Story 3.

In 2000, Mr. Potato Head was inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame, along with four other childhood staples: Slinky, the jump rope, jacks, and the bicycle. That made him one of only 46 toys to ever be so honored, so far.

For his 50th birthday, Rhode Island (home state of Hasbro, Inc.) issued the Mr. Potato Head commemorative license plate. As if that weren't enough birthday excitement for a toy that hit the half-century mark, Mr. Potato Head was also given his very own AARP card.

I will leave you now with Chez Wheedleton's own personal Mr. Potato Head connection:

Our two Mr. Potato Head sets - one per kid. Between the four of us, we've all had great fun together with these full-of-character spuds. They've been well-used, and have traveled to far-flung places (though not so far-flung as Spud: The World's Most-Traveled Potato Head), and we've lost a piece or two here and there.

Yet despite our slightly depleted pile of parts, we've still got more than enough to keep us creating for a long while to come.

And that, perhaps, is the secret to Mr. Potato Head's success.

10 Things You May Not Know About Mr. Potato Head
Mr. Potato Head - Wikipedia
Mr. Potato Head History - 
Mr. Potato Head -
History of Mr. Potato Head - Woodstock Candy


  1. Oh, I adore Mr Potato Head! He certainly deserves to be in the Toy Hall of Fame.

    Cool post, Kim.


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