Mr. Potato Head has come a long way since 1952 when it was first introduced to the American public. The inherent silliness of Mr. Potato Head drove its popularity among the school-age set, making it one of modern history’s most beloved toys.
Back in the 50s and 60s, the famous spud was not much more than an accessory kit that kids could use to dress up a real potato. Yes, that’s right, the potato was not included.
The toy would take on many iterations over the years, like adding a plastic potato to dress up.
But after nearly 70 years, the famous spud is getting a makeover; “Mr.” is being dropped from the name.
“Hasbro is officially renaming the Mr. Potato Head brand to Potato Head to better reflect the full line,” Hasbro stated on their website.
“But rest assured, the iconic Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head characters aren’t going anywhere and will remain Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head.”
The updated line will launch this autumn and will feature a family set that includes two large potato bodies, one small potato body, and 42 accessories.
“The possibilities to create your own families are endless with mixing and mashing all the parts and pieces,” Hasbro writes.
The distinction that children can create their own families is a progressive move that embraces changing cultural norms in America.
By removing gendered roles from the toy set, kids are encouraged to work out their own ideas about gender and identity. Kids from single-parent homes or same-sex partnered homes will get a chance to express their ideas with this updated version of the classic toy. Potato Head will now be more of a blank canvas than ever for kids to play on.
“Culture has evolved,” Kimberly Boyd, who is the Senior Vice President and General Manager at Hasbro told Fast Company. “Kids want to be able to represent their own experiences. The way the brand currently exists—with the “Mr.” and “Mrs.”—is limiting when it comes to both gender identity and family structure.”
There has been some backlash to this move by Hasbro.
One headline from Business Insider reads, “Hasbro is dropping the ‘Mr.’ from its Potato Head toys because ‘culture has evolved,’ and it’s angering critics who say ‘woke imbeciles are destroying the world.’
Several high-profile conservatives took issue with Hasbro removing the “Mr.” from Potato Head, and took their ire to Twitter.
Pierce Morgan wrote, “Who was actually offended by Mr Potato Head being male? I want names. These woke imbeciles are destroying the world.”
Who was actually offended by Mr Potato Head being male? I want names. These woke imbeciles are destroying the world. pic.twitter.com/CwsaX5D2Ue
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) February 25, 2021
Colorado Republican, Representative Lauren Boebert, seemed to imply that the Hasbro move to neutralize gender in its toy should be applied to how President Biden speaks.
She wrote, “Mr. Potato Head has now been renamed to be gender inclusive. He’s now just going to be called Potato Head. When will the activists demand Joe Biden stops use of the “Come On, Man” catchphrase? For inclusivity’s sake, it should be “Come On, Person!”
Mr. Potato Head has now been renamed to be gender inclusive.
He’s now just going to be called Potato Head.
When will the activists demand Joe Biden stops use of the “Come On, Man” catchphrase?
For inclusivity’s sake, it should be “Come On, Person!”
— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) February 25, 2021
The pushback to Hasbro appears to come during an era when the toy industry as a whole is moving in the direction of diversity and inclusivity.
Mattel has made international headlines for it’s push to modernize the Barbie brand. The company chose to update the iconic doll by creating an entire campaign around representation.
“Children’s early experiences shape what they imagine to be possible. It’s important for them to see themselves reflected in product and content and to be exposed to different skin tones, hair types, and abilities,” the Mattel site reads. “Barbie recognizes the importance of representation and is committed to continuing to better reflect the world kids see today.”
Barbie isn’t alone. The massively popular American Girl Doll has also been updated to better reflect the kids who love to play with them.
According to their diversity statement and catalog selections, kids can now get dolls that feature no hair, asthma, wheelchairs, hearing aids, allergies, and even diabetes kits.
The Potato Head family will be reintroduced to the world this coming fall, just in time for the holiday shopping season. To learn more about the trio of spuds, check out the Hasbro website.