Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011

Mr. Potato Head

Inventor George Learner had an interesting way to get kids to like vegetables: make them into toys. He created a set of plug-in facial features (28 in all) to be distributed in cereal boxes. The Hassenfeld Brothers company, which would later form Hasbro Inc., loved the idea and decided to market it. The original Mr. Potato Head — then just a set of pointy-backed features that kids would jab into a real potato — made its debut in 1952. It became the first toy with a dedicated TV commercial and helped Hasbro earn more than $4 million in just a few months. The plastic potato appeared in 1964, turning the lovable spud into the version we're familiar with today — a toy that can even claim movie-star status, thanks to Disney Pixar's Toy Story franchise, in which it has a featured role voiced by comedian Don Rickles.