A precursor to Mr. Potato Head was sold without a head and the parts meant to be used added to real potatoes and other vegetables.
The first official Mr. Potato Head came with a styrofoam head in 1951. It was replaced with a plastic head in 1964.
Inventor George Lerner invented a toy for children in 1949 called “make a face” that featured some of the now-familiar facial features but was sold without a head. Kids were meant to attach the pieces to a real potato or another vegetable. It was not a success.
He later made a deal with a cereal company to include the pieces as prizes in their product until 1951 when a company by the name of Hassenfeld Brothers Inc. discovered the idea and made a deal with Lerner to cancel the cereal deal and sell the rights to them. These Has… Bros repackaged the product and included a styrofoam head – naming it Mr. Potato Head. It was an instant success. In 1964. the head was replaced with a plastic one.
Those first sets had hands, feet, ears, two mouths, two pairs of eyes, and four noses; three hats, eyeglasses, a pipe, and eight pieces of felt suitable for beards and mustaches. They came with a styrofoam head that children could use, but instructions suggested a potato or other vegetable would do as well.
The very first TV ad ever directed at children was a 1952 advertisement for Mr. Potato Head. Mrs. Potato Head was introduced soon after that in 1953, followed by brother Spud, sister Yam, and various pets.
The company changed its name to Hasbro in 1963 and now one of the largest toy companies in the world, selling products like G.I. Joe, Transformers, Playskool, Tonka, Nerf, Cabbage Patch Kids to name a few. Hasbro also now owns Parker Brothers (Parkbros?), makers of Monopoly, and Milton Bradley, the makers of Scrabble and much more. They also own the rights to Pokemon toys, Sesame Street toys and have a license to develop toys from Disney Studios films. Hasbro has revenues of roughly $4.5 billion per year.