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

Monday, April 25, 2011

Celebratory Multitasking at Its Finest (Or at Least, at Its Funnest)

I'm combining my celebration of a couple of Little-Known Holidays today. First, today is World Penguin Day, celebrated on April 25th because it occurs during the time of the flightless birds' annual northern migration. Second, today is also National Crayola Day, celebrated on April 25th because...well, I'm not sure why. Maybe for the love of this colorful, versatile drawing implement? Let's go with that, since I found no explanations for this particular holiday, just a couple of entries on a couple of calendars. 

Some of you may argue that the Crayola part of this little celebration is late, and you may be right: I also found a Crayola Crayon Day listed for March 31st. And this one I did find an explanation for: it's celebrated to mark the first time, in 1903, that Binney & Smith offered its crayons for sale to the public. Neither holiday, however, appears on the official Crayola website. So which one is officially right? Or is it neither? Who knows? All I can say is, unofficially, Bugs and Bunnies is celebrating National Crayola Day today. Because it works for me. Here's why:

Get it? It's National Penguin Day, and it's National Crayola Day, so...I drew a crayon-loving penguin (note the totally-not-seen-in-the-wild t-shirt), and then I colored it with crayons! 

Oh, yes. I'm We're the Celebratory Multitasking Queen.

And We are very amused.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Well, Duh. Isn't It Obvious?

The kids and I are sitting in a pizza shop for lunch, when Lovely Girl looks up and sees a story on television about Donald Trump's flirtation with a run for President in 2012. "Seriously?" she says. "Why would he run? And who would vote for Donald Trump? He does, like, reality shows and stuff." 

I give her my best guess: "Why run? Because he has the money to do so. And because he thinks he can do a better job than anyone else." As for who would vote for him, I say I don't know who would, but I know I wouldn't. 

Then Handsome Boy says, "So, who do you want to be President next time?" 

Fair question, and not one I can rattle off without some thought. Finally I say, "I don't have a particular person in mind. But I know I want a President who wants to do a good job, and who can do a good job, and who cares for our country, and who will do the right things to make our country better for all of us."

Handsome Boy is quiet for a minute. "I know who it could be," he says, his face brightening. "Chuck Norris! He could do a good job. We should vote for him for President."

Lovely Girl perks up. "Yeah! Plus, nobody would dare cross Chuck Norris."

"And," Handsome Boy says, "he'd always do the right thing, because that's what Chuck Norris does."

He may have a point.

Chuck, are you listening?