Mr Potato Head Goes Gender-Neutral, Hasbro Demands Toys 'Break Gender Norms'
Company accused of bowing to 'woke' culture by changing 70-year-old toy
Mr. Potato Head has gone gender-neutral as the toy's maker, Hasbro, announced the branding of the 70-year-old figure is changing because children must "break free from gender norms."
The change drops the "Mr." from the Mr. Potato Head brand, sparking debate on social media that Hasbro has succumbed to "woke" culture by changing an iconic toy that's been on shelves since 1952.
However, while revealing the change in a presentation to investors Thursday, Rhode Island-based Hasbro said the gender-neutral name comes as societal roles and gender identities are changing.
The company insists that toys should reflect more single-parent households, same-sex parents, and transgender, non-binary and gender-fluid family members.
Despite the change, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head will still exist as separate characters in the "Potato Head" lineup, however.
So while customers won't see "Mr. Potato Head" on the toy box's main branding, they'll still be able to pick up a Mr. or Mrs. Potato Head - or characters who "identify" as male or female - from store shelves, for now.
The new Potato Family Pack "Create Your Potato Head Family" kits will include two non-gendered adult potatoes, one baby potato, and 42 accessories.
Children will then be able to make gendered or non-gendered characters, and same-sex, single-parent, or traditional potato families, in line with what the company says are changing societal roles.
Kimberly Boyd, the senior vice president of global brands and general manager at Hasbro, told Fast Company that the rebranding reflects a more modern era.
"Culture has evolved," Boyd told the outlet.
"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."
Boyd added that Hasbro hopes the rebranding will allow for kids to make "little potato families" however they see fit.
To that end, the Potato Head toy line is also debuting a new product — the Create Your Potato Head Family — that includes "enough potatoes and accessories for kids to create all types of families."
The toy that would eventually become Mr. Potato Head was originally conceived in the early 1940s by Brooklyn-born inventor George Lerner, who initially only planned to market the push-pin-style face pieces and body parts. (Consumers would provide their own vegetables to jab the pieces into.)
He first sold the idea to a cereal company, which planned to use the pieces as prizes, before the Hassenfeld Brothers learned of Lerner’s idea and purchased it back, per The National Toy Hall of Fame.
The toy soon went into production and debuted in 1952 under its official new name: Mr. Potato Head.