Toyland Treasures: Mr. Potato Head


A c.2000 edition of Mr. Potato Head, decked out in “cowboy mode.”

Creative Commons, dollyhaul,

As a young child, George Lerner would make dolls for his sisters out of potatoes using other vegetables as facial features. In 1949 he began trying to market his childhood idea to various companies, but with the recent memory of the Great Depression and food rationing during the Second World War everyone disregarded his idea as a waste of food. Eventually, Lerner was able to persuade a cereal company to buy the idea for $5,000.

Lerner later approached Hassenfeld Brothers (later renamed Hasbro), who saw that the product was unlike anything they were currently selling. They payed the cereal company $2,000 to cease production and bought the rights themselves for $5,000. Mr. Potato Head was first introduced on May 1, 1952. The first sets cost $0.98 and included hands, feet, ears, two mouths, two pairs of eyes, four noses, three hats, eyeglasses, a pipe, and eight felt pieces of facial hair. No body piece was included, but instead the consumer supplied their own potatoes.

Over time the product was changed to meet various safety concerns. In the 60’s, due to complaints of children playing with rotten potatoes, Hasbro began supplying plastic potato bodies. Several years later new child safety regulations indicated the small parts as a choking hazard, which lead Hasbro to double the size of the toy and its parts.

Over the next decades the toy continued in popularity. In 1985, Mr. Potato Head even received four mail in votes for mayor of Boise, Idaho. Various sets were created, some including other “Spud” family members, most famously Mrs. Potato Head. Both Mr .and Mrs. Potato Head were eventually featured in the 1995 Pixar film “Toy Story” and its sequels. Mr. Potato Head has also been sold as various theme characters such as Darth Tater, Luke Fry Walker, Optimash Prime, Spider Spud, Tony Starch, and many more.

Be sure to check out more of our favorite Toyland Treasures!


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