The invention of New York-born George Lerner, Mr Potato Head was launched by the toy company Hasbro in 1952. The original Mr Potato Head contained only parts, such as eyes, ears, noses and mouths, and parents had to supply their children with real potatoes for the head. Although the toy was called Mr Potato Head, it was suggested that any fruit or vegetable could be used. In 1964, a hard plastic potato ‘body’ was introduced, replacing the need for a real potato.
Over the next three decades, a variety of Mr Potato Head products were sold, including a Mrs Potato Head, and two children, Brother Spud and Sister Yam. In the 1970s the pieces were increased in size to comply with toy safety regulations and in 1987 Mr Potato Head lost his pipe due to pressure from the anti-smoking lobby.
Mr Potato Head has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years, due in part to his appearance as one of the characters in the enormously popular animated feature films Toy Story, Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3.
Mr Potato Head is still produced today by Hasbro and is marketed as a creative toy for young children. There are even Star Wars Potato Heads – Darth Tater, Artoo-Potatoo and Spud Trooper.
The Mr Potato Head pictured is the British version – with plastic body – made by Peter Pan Toys in 1960. It’s parts include the usual eyes, ears and mouth as well as feet, arms and hands, spectacles, hats, moustaches and a pipe. As the set pictured is Mr Potato Head Takes a Sailing Trip, a car and a boat are also included.