Each TOY or GAME has a STORY to share with kids.
Today, it’s MR. POTATO HEAD’s turn to tell its story (with a little help from Grandma Sharon)…
WHAT is Mr. Potato Head: Mr. Potato Head is a potato-shaped toy with spaces and places to put all of his parts, mixed-up or not.
WHO invented Mr. Potato Head: George Lerner, an inventor and designer from New York City, was the inventor of plastic push-pin-style Make a Face face-pieces such as eyes, ears, noses and mouths.
But these face-pieces took a little side journey before they would go on to become parts of the famous Mr. Potato Head.
WHEN and WHY was Mr. Potato Head invented: George Lerner thought it would be fun for kids to have funny little plastic face-pieces that could be pushed into fruits and vegetables to make, well… funny faces.
George’s first face-pieces were designed in 1949, but no toy company thought the face-pieces would sell. In fact, lots of people thought the funny little face-pieces would just waste food.
George sold his Make a Face toy for $5,000.00 to a cereal company that wanted to use the face-pieces as premium give-aways in cereal boxes.
George still wasn’t satisfied that his Make a Face idea wasn’t a good one and decided to present the toy to Henry and Merrill Hassenfeld, who owned what would become Hasbro, the toy manufacturer in Pawtucket, RI. The Hassenfeld brothers liked the idea and bought the rights back from the cereal company and named the toy Mr. Potato Head in 1952.
The rest is history.
Originally, the Mr. Potato Head kit came without the molded plastic “potato”… the kit containing only feet, hands, eyes, ears, noses, eyeglasses, hair and a pipe. A real potato was used by kids to build the Mr. Potato Head.
On April 30, 1952, Mr. Potato Head became the first toy ever to be advertised on television.
HOW has Mr. Potato Head changed over the years: In 1964, the molded plastic “potato” was added to Mr. Potato Head’s kit and in 1987 the pipe was eliminated. Actually, Mr. Potato Head turned over his pipe to become the poster toy for the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smoke-out.
Mr. Potato Head has also gained a wife, babies, all kinds of character representations… and is still enjoyed by generations of kids who have loved changing the features and accessories on the most famous “potato” of all time.
Build a potato or two with your kids and grandkids today. Mr. Potato Head is the toy icon that will never grow old… just better!
Join me each day in July for TOY STORIES on 365 Days of Literacy for Kids! A little fun, a little learning and a little “ta-dah!”