Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Who's Who Wednesday: Happy 60th Birthday Mr. Potato Head!

Mr. PH waddles through Disney Hollywood's Pixar Place.

Mr. Potato Head was born on May 1, 1952, after the Hasbro toy company bought the rights to Mr. PH from a food company who put the collection of pieces in cereal boxes.

Invented by George Lerner, Mr. Potato Head began when George made his younger sister dolls by sticking various fruits onto vegetables: grapes for eyes, pea pods for mouths, etc. He developed the idea and created plastic eyes, ears, mouth, nose, shoes, hat, pipe, and so forth with push pins to insert directly into vegetables, supplied by the customer.

So, from the start, Mr. Potato Head was a great toy: lovable, adorable, edible!

The original Mr Potato Head toy set: sans plastic head.

Complaints about wasting food (from the parents who still remembered WWII food rationing), rotting fruits and vegetables, and government safety regulations (making the sharp push pins dangerous) resulted in Hasbro changing the design and supplying a plastic potato head/body.

Mr. Potato Head enjoys a number of remarkable achievements:

  • Mr. PH becomes the first toy to be advertised on television, on April 30, 1952, days before his official birthday.
  • His is also the first advertising campaign aimed directly at children, and not their parents. 1 million Mr. Potato Heads were sold in the first year, so Mr. PH's pitch revolutionized advertising.
  • Mr. Potato Head became the "spokespud" for the annual Great American Smokeout, and surrendered his pipe to Surgeon General C. Everett Koop
Mr. PH gives up smoking.

  • Mr. Potato Head makes movie debut in Toy Story, and becomes a movie star!
Mr. PH basks in the lime light.

  • Mr. Potato Head is inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong in Rochester, NY.
Mr. Potato Head's Fame officially recognized!

  • Mr. Potato Head becomes the first Disney animatronic to be able to remove and replace one of his own body parts as "Mash-ter of Ceremonies" in the line leading to Toy Story Midway Mania in Disney Hollywood.
Mr. PH can't hear you!

Well, there's even more to this remarkable tuber, but you get the idea: Mr. Potato Head is no slacker. He revolutionized advertising, entertained millions (or billions!), starred in TV and movies, helped the Surgeon General promote quitting smoking, and daily entertains the lines to Walt Disney World's most popular attraction!

So, Mr. Potato Head, on your 60th birthday, "This spud's for you!"

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