Mr. Potato Head: Best Marketed Toy Ever?

By: Keith

Mr. Potato Head is perhaps the best marketed toy ever.  But why?  What makes a potato head (it was literally a potato with attachments in 1952) so amusing?  Toys have come and gone, but it seems that Mr. Potato Head is here to stay.  He started as a kit full of various attachments that kids could poke into potatoes or whatever sort of fruit they liked.  Then they added a body.  In the 70′s it was decided that rotten potatoes under kids’ beds and the choking hazards of the small parts necessitated the transition to a full plastic body.  And, that’s pretty much how it’s stayed since.  And, between the 70′s and now Mr.  Potato Head has appeared in movies (Toy Story), has been featured in video games (most recently Family Game Night) and is being used in a number of clothing lines for kids.  Back to the question.  Why is Mr. Potato head so popular? 


Fruit, roots and vegetables are fun; and potato is a funny name (but not as funny as kumquat).  Beyond the humor of making a potato into a character it’s also a brilliantly simple idea.  Too many modern toys rely on flashing lights and gimmicks.  It’s only the simple ones that endure; hula hoops, yoyos, tops, Jump ropes.  Mr. Potato head has simplicity and he also has marketing and branding potential.  Mr. Potato head is simple and fun, and thus successful.  It’s also branded and infinitely marketable.  Looking through some of the special edition Mr. Potato heads it’s easy to see how he’s the goose that keeps on giving for Hasbro Toys.  I can’t think of another toy that has this kind of potential for cross promotion.  Can you?     


Sports Potato Heads     










Old Version Potato Heads     







Easter Potato Heads     






Mr. Potato Head at Family Game Night     





Movie Characters Potato Heads     




















Mr. Potato Head Kids Ride     





Mr. Potato Head Kiss     





Mr. Potato Head Ornament     




Mr. Potato Head Shoes     





Halloween Potato Heads  



Mr. Potato Head Santa


22 Responses to “Mr. Potato Head: Best Marketed Toy Ever?”
  1. BigLittleWolf February 1, 2010 at 12:59 pm #

    I love this post, Keith! (I’m actually a fan of Mr. Potato Head – partly because the premise is basic and allows for kids to use their imaginations.)

    And hey – did you know that Rachel Zoe styled Mr. Potato Head? (Okay not really – but in my imagination she did. Google “Rachel Zoe Mr Potato Head” and you’ll see what a sexy spud he became under her capricious care!)

    I admit I enjoy seeing certain toys stick around for generations. The Slinky is one I loved as a child, as did my boys, and I imagine plenty of others even today.
    .-= BigLittleWolf´s last blog ..The Fairness Doctrine =-.

    • Keith February 2, 2010 at 8:21 am #

      Wolf: I must confess I don’t even know who Rachel Zoe is :-) But, hey! You’re number one on that keyword! Awesome. The slinky is pretty awesome, I agree, Even if I couldn’t use them without getting it all tangled up.

  2. Becky February 1, 2010 at 1:38 pm #

    While on vacation a few years ago we ran across a novelty store selling individual replacement parts and costume accessories for Mr. Potato Head. That was pretty neat. My favorite is the Firefighter Spud followed by the Spud Trooper. To this day if any of my parents’ grandchildren receive a Mr. Potato Head, my adult brothers can be found playing with it before the day is out. (Legos have the same reaction.)

    • Keith February 2, 2010 at 8:22 am #

      Becky: Legos are another of those timeless sorts of toys. The only thing I don’t like about Mr. Potato Head these days is that the eyes are all one piece. It would be better to be able to put on mismatched eyes. Other than that it’s held up pretty well though the years. Thanks for the comment!

  3. PJ Mullen February 1, 2010 at 7:22 pm #

    I so can’t wait to get my son the Star Wars Mr. Potato heads. I got Darth Tater for my godson for Christmas.
    .-= PJ Mullen´s last blog ..The incredible dough with the funny name =-.

    • Keith February 2, 2010 at 8:23 am #

      PJ: The Star Wars ones are the ones I was eyeballing too! I didn’t even know they had so many versions before I started looking into it. :-)

  4. Chris | Advice for Dads February 1, 2010 at 7:35 pm #

    Mr. Potato Head and Lego should be in every kids toy box. There is a reason why these toys are timeless!
    .-= Chris | Advice for Dads´s last blog ..7 Things every new dad should know =-.

    • Keith February 2, 2010 at 8:25 am #

      Chris: Mr Potato Head is one of those toys that makes childhood complete. You’re right. I love Legos too, but they’re so dang expensive that it’s a little discouraging. Thanks for visiting!

  5. Dennis Yu February 2, 2010 at 6:06 am #

    They should have the cross-dresser Mr. Potato Head as well as ones for each university, sport, hobby, whatever. Franchise it out to anyone with a brand, just like the credit card companies with their affinity cards!

  6. Ed February 2, 2010 at 6:52 am #

    Mr. Potato head could be bigger. But, several years ago he married Mrs. Potato head and he just has not been the same since.
    .-= Ed´s last blog ..Losing my edge =-.

    • Keith February 2, 2010 at 8:27 am #

      Ed: Mr Potato head has been having marital problems? Did you know they have a daughter, Yam, also? I wonder what would happen to her in a divorce settlement :-)

  7. BellaDaddy February 2, 2010 at 7:06 am #

    I had no idea there were so many versions….altho, it makes me smile…loved MPH when I was a kid…and now, now, I want the KISS Collection….how cool is that?

    .-= BellaDaddy´s last blog ..BELLABUDDY BLOG OF THE WEEK! =-.

    • Keith February 2, 2010 at 8:26 am #

      David: I didn’t know there were so many versions either! Yeah, that KISS collection looks pretty awesome, doesn’t it :-) I like the Darth Maul one the best.

  8. BellaDaddy February 2, 2010 at 10:09 am #

    Heads Up! Come and get it:

    .-= BellaDaddy´s last blog ..…and the award goes to… =-.

  9. Ed February 2, 2010 at 11:25 am #

    Well, I think the Mrs. will get Yam in the settlement. After all Mr. Potato head has been getting home late at night ‘half-baked’……..
    .-= Ed´s last blog ..Losing my edge =-.

  10. Dad Logic February 4, 2010 at 11:39 pm #

    I didn’t know that Mr. Potato Head was originally just parts that would be stuck onto an actual potato. Now that’s interesting.

    And speaking of kids having rotten potatoes under their beds, my dad showed me a spud gun that he used to play with as a kid. It looks like a little pistol, but the tip is designed to pull out a small plug/chunk of potato which eventually becomes the projected bullet when you pull the trigger. It was a simple little air powered toy, but would leave tiny bits of raw potato all over the house after the kids would play with it.

    I saw a plastic version of the spud gun at one of those Spencer Gifts stores in the mall. I’d assume you can find one online, but it is kind of funny to think that at one time dressing up raw vegetables or shooting out bits of them was an acceptable activity for kids.

  11. rc electric car June 27, 2010 at 12:02 pm #

    had no idea there were so many versions….altho, it makes me smile…loved MPH when I was a kid…and now, now, I want the KISS Collection….how cool is that?

    .-= rc electric car´s last blog ..Check out this RAD RACER- =-.

  12. spanish fly August 29, 2010 at 8:56 am #

    What i need an Indian Jones Mr. Potato head. Well I am off to ebay. great post :)

  13. I had no idea that there were so many different Mr potato heads in existance, I was unfortunatly not the proud owner of one as a child, however my interest started after watching Disneys Toy Story, As most of the adult based humor came from the Mr Potato Head charachter.


  14. Elaine December 11, 2010 at 2:09 pm #

    My elementary classroom is themed Potato Heads! They are so cute and all age levels love them! You just have to smile when you see a Potato Head!! thanks for all the great info.!

    • David Dunn May 15, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

      I am a 5th grade teacher and my room is patterned after Mr. Potato Head as well. I have my students as a reward create a new spud for the classroom. I am glad other teachers are using this idea as well!!!

      Dave D.

  15. katy August 15, 2011 at 4:13 am #

    me encanta el señor cara de papa jamas pasara de moda , papa siempre ala vanguardia

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