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Toy Story’s Mr Potato Head at centre of row over gender-neutral toys

The name of Mr Potato Head provoked a media storm yesterday, after toymaker Hasbro announced the character would be “reimagined for the modern consumer” with the “Mr” of his title being dropped from future packaging.

Hasbro said in a statement online: “Hasbro 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.”

The rebranded toy will allow children to “imagine and create their own Potato Head family”, the maker said, and will be released in autumn this year.

But the announcement provoked backlash online, with some criticising the move from Hasbro as a PR stunt.

The US producer was forced to Tweet a clarification later on Thursday, stressing the Mr and Mrs Potato Head characters would still be available to buy, although no further details were offered.

It follows other toy companies breaking with traditional gender norms, including toymaker Mattel which launched a line of gender-neutral dolls in 2019.

Mr Potato Head was one of the main characters in Toy Story, an animated film series produced by Pixar and released by Walt Disney Pictures.

In those films, Mr Potato Head was often heard reminding other toys to use his honorific.

“That’s Mr Potato Head to you”

In an interview with business magazine Fast Company, Hasbro general manager Kimberly Boyd said that “culture has evolved” and the Mr and Mrs brand was “limiting when it comes to both gender identity and family structure”.

TalkRADIO’s Mark Dolan hit out at the move commenting: “The legendary toy Mr Potato Head, a toy that has brought joy to millions of little boys and little girls, that you put the different features on – give him fuzzy eyebrows and a different smile, well he is the latest victim of cancel culture.

“Of woke political correctness gone mad. It is a shocking story, it is a disgrace.

“He’s a potato! Please leave well alone. Welcome to the crazy world of 2021.”

Good Morning Britain co-host Piers Morgan said in a tweet: “Imagine thinking in the middle of a global pandemic: ‘What’s really important is dropping the ‘Mr’ from Mr Potato Head & making him gender-neutral in case we upset a few wokies.'”

American media commentator Ben Shapira made the barbed comment that it was now “imperative” to rename Barbie something more gender-neutral.

However, Hasbro has since updated its website, reassuring consumers that the iconic Mr and Mrs Potato Head characters “aren’t going anywhere”.

A statement read: “Launching this Fall, the CREATE YOUR POTATO HEAD FAMILY is a celebration of the many faces of families allowing kids to imagine and create their own Potato Head family with 2 large potato bodies, 1 small potato body, and 42 accessories. The possibilities to create your own families are endless with mixing and mashing all the parts and pieces.

“CREATE YOUR POTATO HEAD FAMILY is compatible with most standard Potato Head offerings and is a great addition to your Potato Head collection for kids ages 2 and up.
Potato Head has provided endless creative possibilities to our preschoolers for almost 70 years and will continue to do so with the new CREATE YOUR POTATO HEAD FAMILY.”

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