Asst. Arts & Entertainment Editor
Hasbro revealed, on Feb. 25, that they will be dropping the ‘Mr.’ from their main line toy product, Mr. Potato Head, and will be carrying on the toy line simply as Potato Head.
Hasbro has different toy lines take different stances, as they have been attempting to “evolve” in the 21st century. Looking at another Hasbro toy brand, Barbie has made a drastic change in representation by having characters of all shapes, colors, sizes, and orientations in recent years. This change in dropping the ‘Mr.’ moniker really comes as no surprise in the greater guise of things.
Hasbro ensured fans that the characters of Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head were not dead, but that the main line toy was being rebranded. The already existing Mr. and Mrs. Potato Heads will still be available toys and characters, but the new box design will feature a significantly less prominent logo where the gendered Mr. and Mrs. parts of the name will not be as largely displayed. The move to drop the gendered prefixes were obviously meditated on and, of course, was met with some relative pushback from different people, such as a tweet from Piers Morgan saying “who was actually offended by Mr. Potato Head being male? I want names. These woke imbeciles are destroying the world.”
A large issue was taken in the fact that they are already premade characters, and that gender does not matter. Hasbro made the point to refute these ideas by commenting on the fact that their goal is to remove a fixed gender notion for the children playing with the toys. This will allow for the children to play and make whatever kind of families they want.
Other backlash has come in the form of Hasbro’s move being considered performative activism. Of course, Hasbro has not really taken much of a stance on certain issues, or made any meaningful contribution to social issues, yet they are making performative gestures like getting rid of the gendered ‘Mr.’ from the Potato Head name. Organizations such as GLAAD met the decision with a happier outlook, and took it as less performative and more of a step in the right direction. “Hasbro is helping kids to simply see toys as toys, which encourages them to be their authentic selves outside of the pressures of traditional gender norms,” said GLAAD’s Chief Communications Officer Rich Ferero.
The move really has more weight to it when we look at certain things, like the fact that Hasbro’s release of Mr. Potato Head was in 1952, and was originally just pieces meant for a family to use on their own potato. This was the first time that toys were marketed for children. The subsequent feminine pieces came out shortly after the success of Mr. Potato Head and the brand began. When really looking at the fact that the brand itself was targeted at children, to begin with and represent the nuclear family idea, we get to look at the now-altered perception Hasbro is attempting to present to children, letting them make their own representations of families.
All in all, the move was met with more humor and memes than anything, and got hit with a bit of backlash from both traditionalists and progressives for either changing something that does need to be changed, either for an agenda, or for being performative. The move is small and has been represented as some grandiose impressive thing by Hasbro, despite it being a simple change allowing for kids to do what they were probably already doing — making potato families however they want. The name change really comes as more of a heated debate for the parents and invested adults.
Featured Photo Courtesy of Hasbro