Mr. Potato Head was the first toy to ever be advertised on network television, selling more than $100 million dollars in revenue for the Hasbro company in its first year of production.
Inspired by an earlier toy called “make a face,” George Lerner created Mr. Potato Head in 1952 to originally be used as cereal premiums. Separate parts of the plastic face would be distributed in multiple cereal packages, which would then be used to create a face on a real potato, fruit, or vegetable. Later, Lerner showed the idea to the Hasbro toy manufacturing company, who loved it and purchased the rights.
Since the plastic potato face was so popular, Hasbro decided to introduce Mrs. Potato Head, Brother Spud, and Sister Yam to complete the Potato Head family. In 1964 the Mr. Potato Head we all love and know was conceived, packaged with a plastic potato-like body, which stored eyes, nose, ears, mouth, mustache, green cap, tongue, shoes, and smoking pipe.
The Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop, did not approve of Mr. Potato Head’s classic smokers pipe and so it was discontinued, allowing Mr. Potato Head to become the "spokespud" for the American Cancer Society's annual "Great American Smokeout" campaign in 1987, a role taken very seriously by the spud for several years.
In 2006 Hasbro began selling individual pieces as sets to add to a collection instead of having to buy an entire Potato Head set with a body. Some of these themed sets included Mermaid, Rockstar, Pirate, King, Princess, Firefighter, Construction Worker, Halloween, Santa Claus, Chef, and Police Officer.
Mr. Potato Head enjoyed resurgence in popularity with various tie-ins with other properties such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Spider-Man, and Transformers. In 2008, an Indiana Jones style Mr. Potato Head was released, complete with fedora and a golden idol from “Taters of the Lost Ark.”
Whether old school or new age, Mr. Potato Head will not be hitting a popularity dry spell any time soon. If you are an old school Potato Head collector, Icollect247 may have just what you’re looking for: a 1952 Mr. Potato Head Funny Face Kit. This is the original Hassenfeld Bros (later Hasbro) original Mr. Potato Head from 1952. Complete with parts and pamphlet. The box reads: “Any Fruit or Vegetable Makes a Funny Face Man. Mr. Potato Head is fun for all the family.” You know you want to check it out.