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Mr. Potato Head
By Jeff Potocsnak
Mr. Potato Head In the early 1950’s, New York designer George Lerner fused a few plastic pieces into eyes, ears, mouths and noses to create a new toy. He successfully sold this IdentiKit to a cereal manufacturer to be used as a premium prize, and then later to the Hassenfeld Brothers of Pawtucket, RI.

MPH made his way onto store shelves in 1952. The yellow box depicting a bespectacled, smiling Mr. P was an instant hit. Actually it was nothing more than 28 plastic pieces, a Styrofoam head, and a simple instruction booklet that guided youngsters to turn any fruit or vegetable into one of the 100’s of funny faced characters.

Hasbro knew their new toy was beginning to take root. The idea of changing the packaging and adding to MPH’s circle of family and friends would prove to be nothing short of marketing genius. The family of Mr. and Mrs. could be purchased together as part of a funny face combination set, or alone in an ever expanding variety of boxes and play kits which included Mrs. Potato Head, Pets, and family.

1964 saw another explosion of growth in the Hasbro garden. A plastic head was provided for MPH and his ‘Tooty Frooty’ friends came onto the scene (Oscar the Orange and Pete the Pepper, Katie the Carrot and Cooky the Cucumber). Hasbro continued to add new characters and play sets throughout the 1960’s.

The Potato Head design changed several times over the years due to safety and aesthetic concerns. The body doubled in size in 1974 and changed again in the 1980’s to closely resemble the modern day version.

With appearances in the Disney Movie Toy Story , Mr. Potato Head gained a real modern day following. Look for more Potato Head mania as the fifty year anniversary approaches and he makes another appearance in Toy Story II. Rumor has it Mrs. Potato Head is around for this film.

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