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Even at 50, Mr. Potato Head still all smiles

Even at 50, Mr. Potato Head still all smiles

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America's favorite playtime spud looks better than the day he sprouted on shelves in 1952, although his fellow baby boomers are counting wrinkles and gray hairs.

Mr. Potato Head, a playtime tuber created by Hasbro, marked his 50th birthday this year with garden-variety celebrations — a birthday party and AARP membership — as well as a tour across the country complete with a picture contest.

In the past 50 years, Hasbro has sold more than 50 million Mr. Potato Heads to eager small fries who want to try their hand at creating a happy face on a tater. The creative team that came up with the potato toy only baked up accessories. The kit came with just body parts so parents had to supply the potato.

The playful spud also made history as the first toy to advertise on television. The commercial consisted of Mr. Potato Head riding in a wagon and playing with kids, said Julie Duffy, director of corporate communications for Hasbro.

In his first year, Mr. Potato Head mashed the competition with more than $4 million in sales, according to the Toy Manufacturers of America.

Just a year after introducing Mr. Potato Head, Hasbro hashed out the idea that two potato heads were better than one. The spud was married to Mrs. Potato Head to starch, errr, start a life together.

Mr. Potato Head has had a variety of accessories including fisherman's gear and a sheriff's badge. One accessory was dropped in 1986 when then Surgeon General C. Everett Koop requested the spud stop frying his lungs with a pipe. Mr. Potato Head became the official "spokespud" for the American Lung Society and the Great American Smoke-out.

Giving up tobacco wasn't Mr. Potato Head's only healthy endeavor. In 1992, he gave up his "couch potato" status and received a Presidential Sports Award from the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Arnold Schwarzenegger presented the award on the White House lawn.

Mr. Potato Head, along with his wife, has also been active in the political realm, helping the League of Women Voters encourage people to head to the polls. The silly spud even tried his hand at a candidacy in 1986.

"He was nominated as mayor of Boise, Idaho," Duffy said. "And, no, I'm not kidding."

Mr. Potato Head even hit Hollywood in 1995 with a supporting roll in Disney's "A Toy Story" and was joined four years later by the Missus in "Toy Story II."

Mr. Potato Head has been making stops at Wal-Mart locations across the country as part of a year-long birthday celebration. He also is promoting the 50 years of smiles contest where participants are encouraged to send in photos or drawings of them smiling with an image of Mr. Potato Head for a chance to win $25,000.

"Mr. Potato Head has been around for 50 years as an ever-popular brand with kids and adults alike," Duffy said, "and we hope he will be around another 50 years."


Related links

http://www.mrpotatohead.com

http://www.operationsmile.org

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