The icon that was to be known as Mr. Potato head was born in the early 1950s when Brooklyn-born inventor George Lerner came up with the idea of inserting small, pronged body and face parts into fruits and vegetables to create a "funny face man" toy. After Lerner sold his idea to Hasbro -- then known as Hassenfeld Bros. -- Mr. Potato Head was officially introduced on May 1, 1952. The original toy kit cost $0.98 and contained plastic hands, feet, ears, two mouths, two pairs of eyes, four noses, three hats, eyeglasses, a pipe, and eight felt pieces resembling facial hair. By the mid 1960s, stricter government safety regulations meant that the plastic accessories could no longer easily puncture real food, so Hasbro introduced the all-plastic Mr. Potato Head in 1964. They also introduced
I've only ever known the smooth, fully plastic Mr. Potato Head toy, so it blows my mind a little bit to know that Hasbro originally produced what was quite literally just plastic body parts that you stuck on a real spud. Witness this ad from 1954: I mean, look at that thing. People bash the Pet Rock, but this thing is about half a step above that. Maybe if the Pet Rock had good accessories and you could stick it on a plastic body we'd remember it more fondly. Fun trivia: On April 30, 1952, Mr. Potato Head became the first toy advertised on television. Here's a vintage example of an early ad.