Why Hasbro Dropping the “Mr.” from Mr. Potato Head Matters

Recently, Mr. Potato Head has become Potato Head. Hasbro, the company that has been developing the Mr. Potato Head toy since 1952, released a statement on February 25th saying that it “is making sure all feel welcome in the Potato Head world by officially dropping the Mr. from the Mr. Potato Head brand name and logo to promote gender equality and inclusion.” While many view the dropping of the “Mr.” from the nostalgic toy as Hasbro taking gender neutrality to the extreme, others see the move by Hasbro as a move towards gender inclusivity.

Hasbro’s rebranding of the toy has created a great deal of controversy on the internet that reflects how ignorant society remains when it comes to topics of gender. After Hasbro broke the news of their intent to change the beloved spud, people took to Twitter asking if Barbie will change her name next. Other tweets focused on the company at large, with one user tweeting “I think Hasbro needs to drop the Bro and just be Has.” Glenn Beck, a conservative radio host, had a full meltdown over the product change, stating “Buy Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head because it's the end of an era. It is the end of freedom in America.” Those who took to social media are evidently making a mockery of the gender neutrality of toys, however, they are completely missing the point.

gender roles typed on paper in green typewriter Photo by Markus Winkler from Unsplash The riddance of “Mister” is not a means to change an iconic toy, but a way to relate to today’s youth and appeal to more modern families. Inanimate objects are often gendered in society, so by erasing the “she,” “he,” “Mr.” and “Mrs.” from products at a young age, children will be accustomed to a world where they can grow up to be whatever they desire, without feeling a need to comply to certain gendered stereotypes. According to Rich Ferraro, GLAAD’s chief communications officer, “Hasbro is helping kids to simply see toys as toys, which encourages them to be their authentic selves outside of the pressures of traditional gender norms.” 

person holding balloons Gaelle Marcel/Unsplash Potato Head is not the only toy that has been altered to be more inclusive. Within recent years, Hasbro has shed the idealistic white, blonde, feminine beauty standard of the Barbie, shifting the doll to now come in multiple skin tones, body shapes, and non-stereotypical professions. Similarly, American Girl has created a line of dolls for boys and The Thomas the Tank Engine toy line added more girl characters. While Barbies, American Girl Dolls, and Thomas the Train are harder to make gender neutral in comparison to a potato, the fact that the toys are becoming more diverse and inclusive is a step in the right direction.

Pexels/June Although many may deem Hasbro’s gender neutral move as a bit ridiculous, the dropping of “Mr.” from Potato Head is a means towards gender inclusivity. There is no reason to associate mustaches with men and long mascara eyelashes with women. Hasbro rebranding, which is aimed at the modern customer, will allow children to construct whatever kind of potato they desire. Children will have the option to use any of the 42 accessories included in the new Potato Head set to create their own type of potato families, whether that be two moms, two dads, or guardians who are non-binary.