On April 30, 1952, Mr. Potato Head became the first toy ever advertised on television. In just the first year, over one million kits were sold. Since its invention, Mr. Potato Head has been on television, in movies, and has had his own comic strip. Mr. Potato Head has also acted as spokesperson for a number of causes.
Mr. Potato Head was originally called “Funny Face Man” by his inventor George Lerner. It was in 1949 that Lerner got the idea of inserting prolonged body and face parts into fruits and vegetables. At first, Lerner’s toy idea didn’t go over too well. After several years of trying to sell “Funny Face Man” to toy companies with no luck, Lerner convinced a food company to distribute the plastic parts as premiums in breakfast cereal boxes. In 1952, Lerner sold his creation to the Hassenfeld brothers (Hasbro) who changed the name to Mr. Potato Head.
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The first Mr. Potato Head kits cost $0.98 and came with hands, feet, ears, two mouths, two pairs of eyes, and four noses. The kits also included three hats, eyeglasses, a pipe, and 8 felt pieces meant to be used as facial hair. It wasn’t until 1964 that a plastic potato body was included. In previous years, parents had to supply the potatoes to be used as bodies.
Throughout the years, Mr. Potato Head’s family expanded to include Mrs. Potato Head, Brother Spud and Sister Yam. Accessories were also added which included a car, boat trailer, a kitchen set, a stroller, and pets called Spud-ettes.