Born in the 50’s Mr. Potato Head remains a beloved children’s toy.
Mr. Potato Head is one of those iconic toys from the 1950’s that kids are still playing with today. There is something about that silly spud and his accessories that has captivated youth throughout the years.
Mr. Potato Head was invented by George Lerner of Brooklyn. Sometime just before the start of the 1950’s he had the idea to create plastic face and body pieces that could be inserted into fruits and vegetables to make a “funny face man.” He shopped his idea around to toy companies but they were not impressed. America was just out of World War II and the companies feared that people would consider using fruits and vegetable to make toys to be wasteful. He was finally able to sell the idea for $5,000 to a cereal company that planned on using the plastic pieces as toy premiums in the boxes. However, in 1951 he showed the toys to Henry and Merrill Hassenfeld, brothers who owned a small school supply and toy company. They were very impressed with the toy and paid the cereal company $2,000 to stop the production and paid $5,000 for the rights.
Mr. Potato Head was born on May 1, 1952 and sold for 98 cents. It contained a number of pieces including feet, eyes, nose, hair and more. Parents had to supply to the potato. The toy was the first ever to be advertised on television and the first advertising campaign to be aimed directly at children rather than adults. This created a revolution in marketing overall and a boom in production of the toy. Over one million sets were sold in the first year. Mrs. Potato Head was added in 1953 and shortly after Brother Spud and Sister Yam joined the family. In 1964 the Hasbro Company (formerly Hassenfeld Brothers) started including the plastic potato body, due to regulations that required the plastic spikes for inserting into the vegetable to be less sharp, rendering them useless at piercing the vegetables.
Today 1950’s Mr. Potato Head sets are highly desirable among classic toys collectors and sales of the product remain high. He made his screen debut in the 1995 movie Toy Story and was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2000.