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July 14, 2011 4:38 PM   Subscribe

For more than 50 years, Mr. Potato Head toys have been a hit among American children - and increasingly, collectors. This collector's website has everything Potato Headian, whether you want to see 2008 Presidential Candidates holding Mr P or the "psychedelic" Mr. Potato Bug, Bird, and Fish from the early 1970s or read about how it almost became a forgotten cereal premium instead of a "funny face kit" for unused fruits and vegetables. Then there are the pictures from 2002 when Rhode Island distributed 5 foot fiberglass Mr. Potato Head statues which were decorated by artists through the state. There's more. A lot more.
posted by julen (21 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
I want Mr. Potato Bird. ::sniff::
posted by Splunge at 5:04 PM on July 14, 2011


Our first Mr Potato Head didn't come with a plastic potato, you were supposed to ask your mom for a real potato. And it came with a pipe for him to smoke.
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:12 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love Mr. Potato Head. I have never been able to figure out why and that is one of the only mysteries that I have encountered in this life that I have never been driven to solve. Thankfully, some things just are.
posted by Wotak at 5:17 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


The squid at our zoo has a Mr. Potato head as an enrichment tool. It's only slightly disturbing.
posted by librarianamy at 5:39 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, Mr. Potato Head has been laying low in Tokyo these past few months. Some say he's gone undercover.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:50 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


It was such a brilliant and efficient piece of design originally, it's actually pretty strange that it has become such an icon as a plastic potato where you only have a few options of where to stick the arms.
posted by pmcp at 5:52 PM on July 14, 2011


Our first Mr Potato Head didn't come with a plastic potato, you were supposed to ask your mom for a real potato.

Maybe the trend toward canned vegetables meant that there were fewer and fewer fresh vegetables to be found in suburban homes.

It was such a brilliant and efficient piece of design originally, it's actually pretty strange that it has become such an icon as a plastic potato where you only have a few options of where to stick the arms.

I agree that it's lamentable, but I don't think it's "strange". Overall, I'd say there has been a move toward standardization everywhere, in all facets of manufactured goods, including toys. Less room for individual imagination, more "do it like this / do as you're told" top-down design. Dumbed down. Made easy. But with less room for creative input.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:58 PM on July 14, 2011


Wiki: On April 30, 1952, Mr. Potato Head was the first toy advertised directly to children on television.

Maybe the trend toward canned vegetables meant that there were fewer and fewer fresh vegetables to be found in suburban homes.

Again, according to wikipedia, it was due to objections about potentially unsanitary conditions.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:12 PM on July 14, 2011


Haha. Potatoes are NOT vegetables.
posted by Wotak at 6:12 PM on July 14, 2011


Fans of Mr. P, please know this tribute song: "Das Uber Tuber, Or: The The Mystery of Mr. P."
posted by Riverine at 6:14 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just received an email from my sister requesting that all us kids write a haiku for my mother's 80'th birthday.

He still smok'd a pipe
there was no plastic head
potato from mom

Thanks for the assist, metafilter.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:15 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Haha. Potatoes are NOT vegetables.

Ooooooh, SNAP.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:16 PM on July 14, 2011


I agree that it's lamentable, but I don't think it's "strange"...

Perhaps not, I just think it's interesting how it can remain popular and become a classic after the it's brilliantly simple beginnings have been completely changed. There are plenty of toys like lego that are still popular that leave creative doors open.

I wonder if it's the way that it now feels like you are doing it wrong (and that's funny) when you stick an eyes where the ears should go and the limitations actually add to the fun. Such a simple interaction creates a different toy altogether that relies on very discreet decisions. Or whether it's more to do with having a recognisable character as a brand.

Sorry, I may be being a bit boring about something that is just a bit of fun.
posted by pmcp at 6:45 PM on July 14, 2011


Is it just my imagination or did they do a "reverse O.J." and lighten Mr. Potato Head in the '80s?
posted by MikeMc at 6:46 PM on July 14, 2011


Maybe the trend toward canned vegetables meant that there were fewer and fewer fresh vegetables to be found in suburban homes.

It's not like canned veggies were unknown during the 50s and 60s. The mrpotatohead.net page actually says that they included a plastic potato because of new toy regulations that specified the ends of the parts could no longer be pointy enough to stick in a real vegetable (or tuber, as it were), for safety reasons.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:00 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


The only canned potatoes I ever saw were one inch diameter new potatoes. They were good. I'm seriously going out to get some right now.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:49 PM on July 14, 2011


For some strange reason, Mr. Potato Head was the most-coveted auction prize at my college's Casino Night auction, lo these many years ago. Basically you play pretend casino (I was a blackjack dealer) for a few hours with fake monopoly money, then at the end of the night there's a big auction for all sorts of prizes. Dinners at local restaurants, bowling, pizzas from the on-campus grill, and some other stuff.

But the last thing they auction is a Mr. Potato Head. And it always commands the highest price of anything. My brother won it one year - I was among the many who gave him my fake money so he could bid the highest. And he still displays it proudly on a shelf.

So that's my Mr. Potato Head story.
posted by marble at 7:51 PM on July 14, 2011


Oh, boy, the Rhode Island potato heads. Those were some unsightly jerks. You'd just turn a corner in Providence and bam, Edgar Allen Potato-fucker would be sieg heiling nothing in particular.

Also: Gore-tastic!
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 11:58 PM on July 14, 2011


For some strange reason, Mr. Potato Head was the most-coveted auction prize at my college's Casino Night auction, lo these many years ago.

The only logical reason is that someone opened up that little trapdoor in his arse and stuffed him full of cocaine.
posted by pmcp at 3:06 AM on July 15, 2011


I hate to go all hipster on you but I played with Mr. Potato Head when he was still an actual potato.
posted by tommasz at 5:28 AM on July 15, 2011


Those Mr. Potato Heads are some of the ugliest we-had-artists-paint-these-and-then-we-put-them-around-town-because-every-other-place-is-doing-it-so-we-have-to-too things I have ever seen.

(Is there a name for those things? Is there someone responsible I could hate?)
posted by Sys Rq at 10:25 AM on July 15, 2011


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