Hasbro will remove the title “mister” from the brand “Mr. Potato Head” to rename the shape-shifting plastic potato as the gender-neutral “Potato Head”.
It’s a notable shift from one of the world’s largest toy manufacturers to disassociate one of its most famous products from a binary gender identity, something that was much less controversial in 1952, when Hasbro introduced the decidedly masculine and playfully anthropomorphic tuber.
“Hasbro is making sure everyone feels welcome in the world of Potato Head by officially removing the Mr. from the brand name and the Mr. Potato Head logo to promote gender equality and inclusion,” the company said.
The renamed toy will be released this fall.
News of the name change emerged at an investors meeting on Thursday. Hasbro later tweeted about it, assuring fans that although the brand name will change, the Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head characters are “not going anywhere.” The names of those characters will continue to appear in the boxes under the new brand name.
Toy companies, including Hasbro’s rival Mattel, have adapted to cultural changes for years. Mattel’s Barbie, who became a hit as a female figure of impossible proportions, has become more inclusive and racially diverse.
Mattel said a year ago that it wanted to bring “a multidimensional view of beauty and fashion” when it launched a series of dolls with disabilities, hair loss and vitiligo.
“By offering a toy that exists outside of the male/female binary, Hasbro is helping children see toys simply as toys, encouraging them to be authentic outside of the pressures of traditional gender norms,” said Rich Ferraro, a spokesperson for the LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD.
For the uninitiated, Potato Head is a simple concept. It’s a plastic potato with a set of removable features including large protruding ears, eyes, glasses, mustache, feet, and arms. The product has long been called “Mr.” but it included a Mrs. (madam) and there were also baby potatoes.
Hasbro said the rebrand “for the modern customer” will invite children to create their own Potato Head family with two large potato bodies (no gender specific), a small potato body and 42 accessories.
News that matters for Citizens.