Recently, Hasbro and Mighty Jaxx made an aspiring young artist’s dream come true when they teamed up to turn her Mr. Potato Head design into a limited-edition collectible. Proceeds from sales of the creative twist on this iconic toy are being given to a charitable organization.
This is just the latest expansion of the Potato Head universe! In the mid-1960s, Hasbro created a series of new characters that drew upon other fruits and vegetables: Tooty Frooty Friends and Picnic Pals.
TOOTY FROOTY FRIENDS
The Tooty Frooty friends characters were drawn from four common produce aisle selections: Pete the Pepper, Oscar the Orange, Katie the Carrot, and Cooky the Cucumber.
The sets sold individually with each plastic fruit or vegetable friend paired with a Mr. Potato Head. Various attachable face parts were included so children could create a series of different funny faces. Eventually, Hasbro also sold a box set of all four Tooty Frooty characters and their related parts.
Everyone loves a picnic, and later in the 1960s, Hasbro allowed Mr. Potato Head to get in on the fun with six new friends: Frenchy Fry, Mr. Ketchup Head, Mr. Mustard Head, Frankie Frank, Mr. Soda Pop Head, and Willy Burger.
The characters were initially packaged as duos for a total of three sets, each consisting of a picnic food item and a complementary condiment or beverage. For example, Frankie Frank was paired with Mr. Mustard Head. Later, Hasbro combined the sets into a single box set of all six pals.
In keeping with the picnic theme, Hasbro included specialized accessory pieces with each set, such as eyes the color of ketchup and mustard and ears and noses made to resemble onion slices or pickles. As an added bonus, each kit also included a Mr. Potato Head inside the box.
While none of the other food-inspired iterations was nearly as popular as the chief spud, they did serve to keep the brand fresh and demonstrated how Hasbro attempted to capitalize and expand on the popularity of its best-selling lines.
Hasbro’s recent artistic collaboration offers yet another twist on both Mr. Potato Head and line expansion—this time with an element of social enterprise.
Todd Coopee is Editor-in-Chief of Toy Tales, an online publication that covers toys and games past and present.