Mr. Potato Head wants you to know that despite how ridiculous kids can make him look…
…he is a phenomenally successful activist, adventurist, and billionaire. He has been in production since 1952 when he began life as a set of spiked pieces for kids to gouge into real potatoes. And over the course of the following six decades, he has gone on to fame, fortune, adventure, and activism.
Here are 20 things you may not have realized about the most popular tuber in the world.
In 2008, he hung out with nearly all the presidential candidates.
College student Andy Green took pictures of Mr. Potato Head with every candidate at the Iowa Caucuses except for Sam Brownback and Joe Biden. “I’m not saying his refusal to take a photo with Mr. Potato Head doomed his campaign,” Green says of Brownback, “But I’m sure it didn’t help that I was bad-mouthing him to a lot of people.” And Green says he’ll never forget Biden’s response: “I don’t take pictures with funny hats and funny toys.”
He started life as a cereal box prize.
Mr. Potato Head inventor George Lerner had trouble finding a company in the late 1940s who would sell his face-parts for vegetables. Toymakers were concerned that post-war families who were accustomed to careful rationing would not “waste” good groceries as playthings for their kids. So Lerner settled on distributing the toy as the prize in cereal boxes.
Mr. Potato Head became a best-seller because he was more fun than school supplies…
At the time, brothers Henry and Merrill Hassenfeld owned a modest textiles and pencil-box business. The boxes sold well when a few school supplies were included inside. But when the Hassenfelds substituted Potato Head parts for those pencils and erasers in 1952? Well, they made four million dollars in sales that year.
…and he launched a major toy-making corporation in the process.
On the strength of their Mr. Potato Head sales, those Hassenfeld Brothers focused on making toys, shortened the company name to Hasbro, and became one of the largest toy companies in the world.
Hasbro company checks are watermarked with Mr. Potato Head.
It’s their way of saying, Thanks to you, we can print money!
In Canada, Mr. Potato Head is also known as Monsieur Patate and is sometimes missing a tooth.
Of course, he’s missing a tooth — he plays hockey up there. Out of hundreds of versions of Mr. Potato Head, this is the only one I’ve seen where not all of his pearly whites are pearly white.