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Mr Potato Head
Hasbro’s top toys for Christmas, London, Britain – 13 Jul 2011
Despite the fact that literally no one asked for this, the beloved potato we’ve all known as Mr. Potato Head will no longer be a mister. Hasbro announced Thursday their decision to take the potato in a different direction, giving the potato-shaped toy a new name to go along with its new identity as a gender-neutral spud. The potato will be hereby known simply as Potato Head, and the change will be implemented this year.
Now, Potato Head can go on to live its life with the rest of the genderless potatoes. But perhaps the real question here is: Why — and I cannot stress this enough — was a potato ever assigned a gender to begin with?
The famous potato, known for his breakout role in the 1995 Pixar film Toy Story, has been around for much longer than that. The inventor George Lerner came up with the concept of turning a potato into a “funny-face man” in 1949, according to The Takeout. At the time, World War II had just ended as Americans lived through a period of rationing food, so the potato was a controversial idea for some toy manufacturers who worried that playing with vegetables would seem wasteful.
But Lerner came up with the idea after taking actual potatoes and other similar vegetables straight from the garden and turning them into silly children’s toys. Lerner first started by making the potato dolls for his sisters as a child and the toy kit was officially born on May 1, 1952, after Hasbro bought the rights to Mr. Potato Head for $5,000.
Now 69 years later, Mr. Potato Head, like other children’s toys, is being rebranded for the sake of performative corporate progressivism.
Still, as Ali Mierzejewski, the editor-in-chief of the toy review site The Toy Insider, explained, “It’s a potato. But kids like to see themselves in the toys they are playing with.” As a couch potato myself, I personally have never felt as seen as I do now by Potato Head’s rebranding.
While there may have never been a need for a gendered potato to begin with — and material conditions won’t change for trans and non-binary people as a result of Mr. Potato Head dropping the Mister — we have nonetheless entered the age of the gender-neutral Potato. Welcome.
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