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Fascinating facts about the invention of
Mr. Potato Head by George Lerner in 1952.
MR. POTATO HEAD
Mr. Potato Head was almost little more than a forgotten cereal premium. But history has a way of being kind to the classics. And George Lerner was about to make history!  During the World War II era, George Lerner enjoyed success as a well known inventor and designer. Just before 1950, he designed and produced a first generation set of plastic face pieces. The push pin shaped noses, ears, eyes and mouth parts could be pushed into fruits or vegetables to transform the food into an endless array of
magical anthropomorphic playmates.

The toy wasn't an immediate hit however. There was still a World War 2 mentality to conserve resources. Toy companies didn't think that customers would accept the idea of wasting a piece of food as a child's toy. But after awhile, George finally sold the toy, for $5,000 dollars, to a cereal company,  who planned to use the pieces as a premium giveaway in cereal boxes. But George knew that his new toy deserved a bigger shot. And that shot came in a meeting with a family owned New England manufacturer. Mr Lerner and the manufacture bought back the rights from the cereal company for $7,000.

Mr. Potato Head, one of the world’s most adored "personalities," was "born" in 1952, at the Pawtucket, RI - based toy company, Hasbro, Inc., and began making history at an early age as the very first toy to be advertised on television. The original Mr. Potato Head contained only parts, such as eyes, ears, noses and mouths, and parents had to supply children with real potatoes for face-changing fun!

Mr. Potato Head Eight years later, a hard plastic potato "body" was included with Mr. Potato Head to replace the need for a real potato. Over the next three decades, a variety of Mr. Potato Head products were sold. He was so loved by children, that he was expanded into additional toy categories including puzzles, creative play sets, and electronic hand-held, board and video games. The vast popularity of Mr. Potato Head also attracted non-toy companies who licensed his image and name to make apparel, accessories and novelty items.
Mr. Potato Head’s appeal to people young and old made him the ideal ambassador for many causes and good-will efforts. In 1987, Mr. Potato Head surrendered his signature pipe to the U.S. Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop, and became the "spokespud" for the American Cancer Society’s annual "Great American Smokeout" campaign—a role he carried out for several years. On his 40th birthday, it was decided that he would no longer be a "couch potato" and he received a special award from the President’s Council for Physical Fitness, right on the lawn of the White House! Always one to pass on a wholesome message to the public, he and Mrs. Potato Head joined up with the League of Women’s Voters in 1996 to help out with their "Get Out the Vote" campaign and spread the word about the importance of voting to Americans.

Mr. Potato Head ... a world-class personality whose recognition grew from a simple children’s toy to everyone’s best friend, a speaker of causes, entertainment star and a cultural icon.

TO LEARN MORE

RELATED INFORMATION:
History of Toys   from The Great Idea Finder

ON THE BOOKSHELF:
Toys!: Amazing Stories Behind Some Great Inventions
by Don L. Wulffson, Laurie Keller  / Hardcover - 128 pages (2000) / Henry Holt & Company
The quirky tales behind more than two dozen novelties, gadgets and games, from seesaws to Silly Putty and toy soldiers to Trivial Pursuit.

Mr. Potato Head: Celebrating 50 Years of One Sweet Potato!
by Gil King / Hardcover: 32 pages / Running Pr; Book & toy edition (May 2002)
In 1952, a spud was born. From his modest start as a simple vegetable, this potato has come a long way. Within these pages is the life and times of Mr. Potato Head—pop culture icon and entertainment for generations of small fries.
Mr Potato Head Unplugged
by Jim Davis / Paperback: 128 pages / Andrews McMeel Publishing; (September 2002)
He is the man, the myth, the legend...the potato. Mr. Potato Head, one of America's all-time favorite toys, is fast becoming one of the most loved cartoons. Mr. Potato Head Unplugged is the first collection of the strip, which debuted in the summer of 2001.

ON THE WEB:
Mr. Potato Head History
From the official Hasbro Company site.
(URL: www.hasbro.com/default.asp?x=corp_history_mph)
Mr. Potato Head's Own Site
Brought to you by Hasbro with lots to do and a MPH Timeline.
(URL: www.mrpotatohead.com/)
Spud's Travels
The home of the World's most-traveled Potato Head. Strap yourself in then click on a link to surf Spud's wacky world of adventures!
(URL: www.spudstravels.com/)

The Little People and Mr. Potato Head

Finally they meet and they're here to share their lives with you. Come and explore the land of the two greatest toys ever made.
(URL: angelfire.com/ab2/ablpph/index.html)
Potato Head Network (Site Closed.)
From the earliest playsets of the 1950's, to the collectible limited editions of the 1990's, there is something about this potato that appeals to nearly everyone.(URL: www.potatoheads.net/)

WHERE TO FIND:
Mr. Potato Head - Darth Tater
Toy / by Hasbro / ASIN: B00061I4U6 / SKN: 051044
Now, in Darth Tater, we have a new incarnation of the venerable toy. It gives kids a chance to be silly with a figure that is otherwise menacing, dark, and threatening.


DID YOU KNOW?:

  • Mr. Potato Head’s celebrity status carried him to Hollywood in 1995, where he played a supporting role in Disney’s "Toy Story."
  • In 1997, Burger King hired him to be the spokespud for the introduction of their new french fry and "Try the Fry" campaign.
  • In the fall of 1998, he will star in his own Saturday morning children’s television program, "The Mr. Potato Head Show," which will debut on the Fox Children’s Network.
  • In 1952, Mr. Potato Head was the very first toy to be advertised on television.
  • In 1985, Mr. Potato Head received four write-in votes in the mayoral election in Boise, Idaho
Mr. Potato Head is a registered trademark of Hasbro Toys, Pawtucket, RI.
Reference Sources in BOLD Type This page revised March, 2005.
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