Was Mr. Potato Head Nearly Just a Cereal Giveaway?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about toys and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of all toy urban legends featured so far!

TOY URBAN LEGEND: Mr. Potato Head quite nearly was “doomed” to simply being a cereal giveaway.

In 1949, a toy developer named George Lerner came up with an idea that would go on to become one of the most popular toys of all-time. But in 1949, Lerner’s idea for a “funny face” kit where children could dress up potatoes or other vegetables with eyes, ears, a mouth, hats, etc. was not a particularly popular one.

Lerner was turned down by every toy company out there, even a company that Lerner had worked for during the war! The prevailing theory is that in the post-World War II environment, rationing was still fresh in everyone’s minds, so “wasting” vegetables and potatoes like that was almost blasphemous.

What happened next nearly de-railed one of the most popular toys of the 20th Century…

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