This is why Mr Potato Head is being ‘reimagined’ as gender neutral - and if you can still buy gendered versions

Friday, 26th February 2021, 2:59 pm
Updated Friday, 26th February 2021, 2:59 pm

US toy manufacturer Hasbro has announced that the potato-shaped dress-up toy Mr Potato Head will be rebranded as ‘Potato Head’.

However, Hasbro has since said “MR. & MRS. POTATO HEAD aren’t going anywhere”.

The toy has been produced for nearly 70 years and is also famous as one of Buzz Lightyear’s companions in Disney Pixar’s Toy Story sequel.

So, is Hasbro dropping the ‘Mr’ from the title and what does this mean for Mrs Potato Head? This is what you need to know.

Who is Mr Potato Head?

Mr Potato Head was invented in 1949 by George Lerner and mass produced from 1952.

The toy is brown and potato shaped, with pop-in accessories for his mouth, ears, eyes, shoes, nose, hair and various other props. It comes with over 50 accessories.

Originally, the toy was sold as just accessories which kids could push into real potatoes or any other vegetable.

However, concerns over food hygiene, health and safety resulted in Hasbro - the company who bought the idea from Lerner - producing a plastic body for the toy in 1964.

Mr Potato Head was the first ever toy to be advertised on television, and was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in New York.

The veggie character also surrendered his pipe to Surgeon General C. Everett Koop for the American Cancer Society's annual "Great American Smokeout" campaign in 1987.

He has gone on to feature in Pixar’s Toy Story sequel, alongside his wife Mrs Potato Head, since 1995.

In 2020, Hasbro announced they would be releasing a ‘Mr Potato Head goes green’ version of the toy, made entirely of plant-based plastics.

Is Mr Potato Head being rebranded as gender neutral?

On 25 February 2021, Hasbro announced that Mr Potato Head would be dropping his title to become ‘Potato Head’.

The company commented that the toy had been "reimagined for the modern consumer,” and later in 2021 production it would drop ‘Mr’ from the toy’s logo.

Hasbro added: “Hasbro is making sure all feel welcome in the Potato Head world by officially dropping the Mr from the Mr Potato Head brand name and logo to promote gender equality and inclusion.”

The move was made to enable kids "to imagine and create their own Potato Head family", leading many to assume this would be the end to gendered Potato Heads.

General Manager at Hasbro, Kimberly Boyd said: “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.”

Will you still be able to buy gendered potato heads?

The question was then raised on Twitter about the role of Mrs Potato Head and the brand took to Twitter to clear up confusion over the rebranding.

Hasbro tweeted: “Hold that Tot – your main spud, MR. POTATO HEAD isn’t going anywhere! While it was announced today that the POTATO HEAD brand name & logo are dropping the ‘MR.’ I am proud to confirm that MR. & MRS. POTATO HEAD aren’t going anywhere and will remain MR. & MRS. POTATO HEAD.”

This has led many to question whether the company has u-turned on their earlier statement, where they implied they would be dropping titles.

Nevertheless, it appears a Mr, Mrs and non-gender specific toy will be available from Autumn 2021.