This may be more than you needed to know about Mr. Potato Head

Did you ever play with Mr. Potato Head? I’m wondering now what the object of MPH? Was it a game or just a time waster? Anyway, this is what I learned about MPH.

It is an American toy consisting of a plastic model of a potato which can be decorated with a variety of attachable plastic parts such as ears and eyes to make a face.

The toy was invented and developed by George Lerner in 1949, and first manufactured and distributed by Hasbro in 1952. It was originally produced as separate plastic parts to be stuck into a real potato or other vegetable. A plastic potato body has been part of the kit since 1964.

Over the years, the original toy was joined by Mrs. Potato Head and supplemented with accessories such as a car and a boat trailer. The character has appeared in film and on television, and has acted as spokespotato for several causes.

Lerner would often take potatoes from his mother’s garden and using various other fruits and vegetables as facial features, he would make dolls with which his younger sisters could play. The grape-eyed, carrot-nosed, potato-headed dolls became the principal idea behind the plastic toy which would later be manufactured.

In the beginning, Lerner’s toy proved controversial. With the war and food rationing a recent memory for most Americans, the use of fruits and vegetables to make toys was considered irresponsible and wasteful. Toy companies rejected Lerner’s creation.

Mr. Potato Head

Original 1952 MPH came as boxed set. Mr Potato Head was born on May 1, 1952. The original toy cost $0.98, and contained hands, feet, ears, two mouths, two pairs of eyes, four noses, three hats, eyeglasses, a pipe, and eight felt pieces resembling facial hair. The original Mr Potato Head kit did not come with a “Potato Body”, so parents had to supply their own potatoes for face-changing fun. It is said that a number of the original accessories reflected certain features of the members of Lerner’s own family.

In 1953, Mrs. Potato Head was added, and soon after, Brother Spud and Sister Yam completed the Potato Head family with accessories reflecting the affluence of the fifties that included a car, a boat trailer, a kitchen set, a stroller, and pets called Spud-ettes. Although originally produced as separate plastic parts to be stuck into a real potato or other vegetable, a plastic potato was added to the kit in 1964.

About this time, Hasbro introduced Oscar the Orange and Pete the Pepper, a plastic orange and green pepper with attachable face parts similar to Mr Potato Head’s. Each came with Mr Potato Head in a separate kit. Oscar and Pete were later discontinued, but Funko revived them as bobbleheads (along with a Mr Potato Head bobblehead) in 2002.

In 1975, the main potato part of the toy doubled in size and the dimensions of its accessories were similarly increased. This was done mainly because of new toy child safety regulations that were introduced by the U.S. government. This change in size also increased the market to younger children, enabling them to play and attach the facial pieces easily. Hasbro also replaced the holes with flat slats, which made it impossible for users to put the face pieces and other body parts the wrong way around. In the 1980s, Hasbro reduced the range of accessories for Mr Potato Head to one set of parts.

  • In 1986 Mr Potato Head became “Spokespud” for the annual Great American Smokeout and surrendered his pipe to Surgeon General C. Everett Koop in Washington, D.C.
  • In 1995 Mr Potato Head made his debut in Hollywood with a leading role in the Disney/Pixar animated feature Toy Story.
  • In 1999, Mr Potato Head starred in the sequel to Toy Story, Toy Story 2.
  • In 2000 Mr Potato Head was inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame.
  • In 2001 Mr Potato Head starred in his own comic strip.
  • In 2006, Hasbro also began selling individual pieces as sets to add to a collection instead of having to buy an entire Potato Head set with a body. Some of these themed sets included Mermaid, Rockstar, Pirate King Princess, Firefighter, Construction Worker, Halloween, Santa Claus, Chef, and Police Officer. In the same year, Hasbro introduced a line called “Sports Spuds” with a generic plastic potato (smaller than the standard size) customized to a wide variety of professional and collegiate teams.
  • In June of 2010, Mr. Potato Head appeared in Toy Story 3.

Until next time,

Tommy B.

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