Backlash as Mr Potato Head toy goes gender neutral

Marni Dixit
·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
·3-min read

Toy giant Hasbro has announced today the Mr Potato Head brand is going gender-neutral.

In a statement, Hasbro said they will be dropping the honorific from the logo and packaging "to promote gender equality and inclusion".

Mr Potato Head toy
Toy giant Hasbro has announced today the Mr Potato Head brand is going gender neutral. Photo: Getty

The toy, which originally launched almost 70 years go will be known as "Potato Head".

"Hasbro today announced the iconic brand will be reimagined for the modern consumer," read an initial statement on the manufacturer's website.

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A non-gender-specific family of the toy, in which children add facial characteristics and clothes to the body of plastic spuds, will hit shelves in the fall.

It "is a celebration of the many faces of families," Hasbro said in a later statement that clarified that individual Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head characters would continue to exist in some form.

They "aren't going anywhere," the new release said, without providing any more information.

Mr Potato Head and Mrs Potato Head in Toy Story
Mr Potato Head and later Mrs Potato Head were fan favourite characters in the Toy Story series. Photo: Disney

The updated statement also dropped the earlier reference to equality and inclusion.

Mr Potato Head first went on sale in 1952, with Mrs Potato Head launching the following year.

"The way the brand currently exists — with the 'Mr.' and 'Mrs.' — is limiting when it comes to both gender identity and family structure," Hasbro general manager Kimberly Boyd told business magazine Fast Company.

"Culture has evolved," she added.

The move follows other updates to classic brands, including Barbie, who was initially known for being tall, white and blonde but now comes in a range of ethnicities and body shapes.

In 2019, global toy giant Mattel released a line of gender-neutral dolls.

Piers Morgan tweet about Mr Potato Head
Piers Morgan was not a fan of the change. Photo: Twitter

Mr Potato Head has been a much-loved character in the Toy Story movies, often reminding others about his title.

"That’s Mr Potato Head to you," he said in the first film.

The change, however, has been mocked online with Piers Morgan tweeting, "Who was actually offended by Mr Potato Head being male? I want names. These woke imbeciles are destroying the world."

"In related news Hasbro, the maker of Mr. Potato Head, will be changing its name to Hasperson," one user wrote.

Journalist Megyn Kelly's tweet about Mr Potato Head
Journalist Megyn Kelly also didn't see what was offensive about the title. Photo: Twitter

"I want to be the person for whom the worst thing that happened to them was Mr. Potato Head being a man. How few real worries you must have," another said.

"Wait - so having a gender at all now is offensive? No one gets to have one? The “Mr.” is what made him interesting," journalist Megyn Kelly said.

"This whole Mr. Potato Head thing is starch raving mad," someone else joked.

Rahul Kohli tweet about Mr Potato Head
Actor Rahul Kohli tweeted that it could be a step in the right direction. Photo: Twitter

Others thought it was a step in the right direction, with actor Rahul Kohli writing "Let’s be honest, no f***ing grown a**e adult gives a s**t if it’s no longer Mr. Potato head. And you can still call it what you like when you give it to your kids. But it just might have a positive impact to our non-binary and trans siblings... so move the f**k on and play nice."

"Mr. Potato Head becoming gender-neutral is definitely one of those 'nobody asked for this, please stop helping' things but it is funny in a depressing way to watch the transphobic crowd defend the pronouns and honorifics of a potato," another user wrote.

With AFP.

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