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Hasbro To Turn Mr. Potato Head Into A Gender-Neutral Spud

Hasbro To Turn Mr. Potato Head Into A Gender-Neutral Spud

Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ: HAS) is turning Mr. Potato Head into a gender-neutral toy.

Changes: The Pawtucket, Rhode Island-based company is making the alteration as a reflection of changing consumer preferences. The decision will also impact the Mrs. Potato Head toy, who will see her gender identity taken away.

“Culture has evolved,” said Kimberly Boyd, a Hasbro senior vice president and general manager in an interview with 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.”

Hasbro did not say when the update to the toy would occur.

A Brief History of Gender-Specific Potatoes: Hasbro introduced Mr. Potato Head in 1952. Back in the day, consumers had to supply their own potato, while the toy company offered plastic pieces give anthropomorphic life to the item. Plastic potato bodies were not introduced until 1964.

Children knew the potato-toy’s gender thanks to a felt mustache and pipe in the accessories package. (The pipe was discontinued in 1986 when the character was licensed for the Great American Smokeout campaign.)

Mrs. Potato Head was introduced in 1953, with feminine accessories including hair bows and bright red lipstick-hued mouth to signal a gender difference from her predecessor. Potato Head offspring Yam and Spud came later, along with similar produce-inspired characters Kate the Carrot, Pete the Pepper, Oscar the Orange and Cookie Cucumber.

Mr. Potato Head was featured in a 1992 public service announcement for the Presidents' Council for Physical Fitness, in which he renounced his "couch potato" lifestyle, and both Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head joined the League of Women Voters in a 1996 get-out-the-vote campaign.

The product gained a new level of popularity with the 1995 animated film “Toy Story” with Don Rickles voicing a perpetually grouchy Mr. Potato Head. Mrs. Potato Head, voiced by Estelle Harris, didn’t show up until the 1999 sequel.

UPDATE: After the news of the transition to gender neutral toys began to circulate across the internet, Hasbro took to Twitter to clarify its decision making. The company stated that while the product was dropping the “Mr." and “Mrs.” from its name, the plastic potatoes will still retain distinctive gender identities.

“While it was announced today that the POTATO HEAD brand name & logo are dropping the ‘MR.’ I yam proud to confirm that MR. & MRS. POTATO HEAD aren’t going anywhere and will remain MR. & MRS. POTATO HEAD,” the company tweeted.

Photo by Dollyhaul / Creative Commons.


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