“Mr. Potato Head will no longer be a Mister”, was the news that was circulating on social media and in several outlets. But now it is not so. Hasbro clarified that he will continue to be a Mister and not gender-neutral, as had been reported.
Hasbro just announced a name change for the line, which is gender-neutral, and many outlets took that as the toy now being gender-neutral.
“Hasbro is making sure everyone feels welcome in the world of Potato Heads by officially changing the brand name “MR. POTATO HEAD” to “POTATO HEAD” to better reflect the entire line,” the company initially announced.
“Hold that Tot – your main spud, MR POTATO HEAD isn’t going anywhere! While it was announced today that the POTATO HEAD brand name & logo are dropping the MR.’ I am proud to confirm that MR & MRS POTATO HEAD aren’t going anywhere and will remain MR & MRS POTATO HEAD,” the company clarified after an initial miscommunication that generated inaccurate interpretations in the public opinion.
According to Fast Company magazine, the change will be presented in a new series of the toy, which will contain a plastic potato with removable parts such as glasses, mustache, nose and mouth, will also be made in a more sustainable way.
Last year, Hasbro said the products would be made of “plant-based plastic” and have less plastic packaging.”
What the Associated Press first said
“Hasbro, the company that makes the potato-shaped plastic toy, announced Thursday that it is giving the potato a new gender-neutral name: Potato Head. The change will appear on boxes this year,” said an AP article called “No longer a Mr.: Mr. Potato Head goes gender-neutral,” which, after the confusion, was changed to “Mr. Potato Head drops the mister, sort of.”
“It also said it would sell a new playset this fall without the Mr. and Mrs. designations that will let kids create their own type of potato families, including two moms or two dads,” AP added.
Despite Hasbro clarifying that the toy will not be gender neutral, it did make modifications to its branding to make it more politically correct, in terms of gender towards the public, “more modern.” For example, on the box of the new line, it explains that you can put together a homosexual family with the pieces.
“The culture has evolved. Kids want to be able to represent their own experiences. The way the brand currently exists – with ‘Mr.’ and ‘Mrs.’ – is limiting in terms of both gender identity and family structure,” said Kimberly Boyd, Hasbro’s senior vice president and general manager working on the brand quoted in the release.
As first reported by the AP, Hasbro, in a statement on its website, said it is “making sure everyone feels welcome in the world of Potato Heads by officially dropping the Mr. Potato Head name and logo to promote gender equality and inclusion.”
“The name change will be accompanied by a new brand image with a whimsical color palette and a more inclusive message, along with a new product to appeal to the modern consumer,” Hasbro said.
The reality is that the news came as no surprise and caused much outrage, as it was not going to be the first brand to take such strategies and decisions focused on gender equality. “Barbie, for example, has tried to shed its blonde image and now comes in multiple skin tones and body shapes. The Thomas the Tank Engine toy line added more girl characters. And American Girl is now selling a boy doll,” AP said.
Social media reaction
Hasbro’s communication was a gigantic mistake, so within minutes, the media caught fire in unreserved support of Mr. Potato Head, who, throughout the Toy Story film, has made it clear that he is a gentleman.
For example, in the first film he clearly states it, “that’s Mr. Potato Head to you, you backstabbing murderer.”