Thursday, April 30, 2009

Creative Minds- The First Toy Advertised on Television

What was the first toy to be advertised on television?

Slinky? Silly Puddy? Barbie? G.I. Joe? Red Rider B.B. Gun? Radio Flyer Wagon?

What do you think?

Here's some mindless trivia!

On April 30, 1952, Mr. Potato Head was the first toy advertised on television. This was well before I was born and many years before my family even owned a color television set. Yet I still remember receiving my first Mr. Potato Head as a gift. It was a birthday present and I was a bit confused. What on earth would I do with a potato head? It couldn't fight; or catch or even kick a ball. Pretty useless I thought..... Nonetheless, I was thrilled to receive the gift. And I spent hours entertaining myself with the funny looking potato dude.

Today when I learned about Mr. Potato Head's birthday I decided to do some research. Per

Mr. Potato Head was born on May 1, 1952. The original toy cost $.98, and contained hands, feet, ears, two mouths, two pairs of eyes, four noses, three hats, eyeglasses, a pipe, and 8 felt pieces resembling facial hair. The Original Mr. Potato Head kit did not come with a "Potato Body," so parents had to supply their own potatoes for face-changing fun. His debut into the toy scene sent him straight to the top, becoming the first toy to ever be advertised on television.

Original Mr. Potato Head Box set

Over one million kits were sold in the first year. (Not a bad year huh?) In 1953, Mrs. Potato Head was added, and soon after, Brother Spud and Sister Yam (Sister Yam?? You think I'm kidding?) completed the Potato Head family with accessories reflecting the affluence of the fifties that included a car, a boat trailer, a kitchen set, a stroller, and pets called Spud-ettes. Although originally produced as separate plastic parts to be stuck into a real potato or other vegetable, a plastic potato was added to the kit in 1964.

So there you have it. You can still walk into a toy store today and buy a Mr. Potato Head. In an age of interactive technical gaming and so much virtual stimulation, I wonder if there's still a market for such basic toys. Do young kids today still play with Potato Heads? Maybe adults are reliving childhood fantasies. I suppose If you're too embarrassed to be seen buying a spud toy, you can order one of the many different kits on-line and have it secretly delivered to you where you can play dress up in the privacy of your own home.

Have fun:

At the time, it was a very creative idea!


Jane Turley said...

Mr Potato Head is still popular - because of Toy Story! In fact my boys had one... though I admit I kinda liked playing with it myself. Alas, my boys now prefer potato guns...

Simple toys are the best though - inevitably I've found that complicated toys fall by the way side. Kids need room for their imagination to grow and not have it all dished up on a plate.

Tamera said...

Goodness! talk about a blast from the past. I had forgotten all about Mr. Potato Head. I would've guessed slinky or the hula hoop.

dickster1961 said...

I loved Mr Potato Head. I used to like putting the pieces in the wrong spots to see how bizarre a character I could create. Good times.

Summer said...

I was showing my 8 year old a Mr Potato Head while in the toy section a few months ago. "But what does it do?" he asked. Maybe he's too old for Mr Potato. Sigh. I was wanting to buy one and then play with it myself. The babies are too young. Choking hazard. Did they even have choking warnings when we were kids?

Heather Dugan said...

Don't you wonder what moment sparked the idea to animate a potato? -To give a vegetable emotional expression?
I'm thinking "there were two guys in a bar and a rutabaga walks in..."

intrepidideas said...

Wow! I'm impressed all of these closet Mr. Potato Head fans! Jane, I'd forgotten about "Toy Story." Was there really a Mr Potato Head in that movie?

Tamera, I guessed wrong too. I guessed Silly Puddy.

Dickster, (laughing and thinking about how goofy your Mr. Potato head looked) I think that was the catch. It allowed you to be creative and funny.

Summer, I think there's a small window for Mr. Potato head fun. Somewhere between 4 years old and 7. And then (35- 65) Outside those windows... No fun.

I'm having so much fun with this post. I've laughed out loud several times now. Heather... You with the jokes? Okay, a few shots of tequilla at the bar, a good idea, and a guy who looks like a rutabaga. Success!

Viola said...

Parents know that if the toys are not appealing to their child then the toy will likely sit on a shelf. Finding Creative toys, high quality learning toys that stimulate the children's development but are fun to play with is essential.