Is Mr Potato Head gender neutral? A month after an unprecedently aggressive discussion on social media surrounding the gender of Hasbro’s iconic toy, the fire doesn’t seem to have died down. The spark that lit it apparently touched a raw nerve with millions.
When multinational Hasbro announced in February it was “renaming” its longstanding mister spud to inculcate a more inclusive identity into the brand, fan reaction was instant, sudden and extremely polar. Where on one side people hailed the toy’s attention to homogenous families, others launched an open attack with calls for a Hasbro boycott in light of an identity change for America’s favourite potato.
And then, another bomb dropped. Read on to know what happened.
Is Mr Potato Head gender neutral? Here’s a rapid recap
1. On February 25, Hasbro Inc announced in a statement, “Hasbro is officially renaming the MR. POTATO HEAD brand to POTATO HEAD to better reflect the full line.”
2. News reports unanimously stated that Hasbro was dropping ‘Mr’ from the spud’s title, deriving from the company’s own claim of “renaming.”
3. Sparks flew. For generations of Americans who have grown up with Mr Potato Head in their hands, it was indigestible that the moustached spud would undergo gender change.
4. Some scratched their heads over the Mr Potato Head gender neutral announcement, saying that despite his highly male appearance, each of his features is detachable and therefore, he was already gender non-conforming.
5. Simultaneously, many cheered Hasbro, one of the biggest names in the toy industry, for ushering in some well-awaited change in the way gender is marketed to children through playtime.
6. But the controversy had only just begun. Things were about to get messier.
7. Hours after the severe backlash, Hasbro issued a clarification saying the original Mr Potato Head was not going anywhere. The spud would be retained as is – male gender, et al – with only a new genderless game set called ‘Create Your Potato Head Family’ being launched in 2021 fall.
8. In addition to its earlier statement, Hasbro added on its website, “the iconic MR. and MRS. POTATO HEAD characters aren’t going anywhere and will remain MR. and MRS. POTATO HEAD.”
Hold that Tot – your main spud, MR. POTATO HEAD isn’t going anywhere! While it was announced today that the POTATO HEAD brand name & logo are dropping the ‘MR.’ I yam proud to confirm that MR. & MRS. POTATO HEAD aren’t going anywhere and will remain MR. & MRS. POTATO HEAD pic.twitter.com/6I84KrxOLQ
— Hasbro (@Hasbro) February 25, 2021
9. Instantly, the tables turned. The previously agitating crowd heaved a sigh of relief at their beloved potato’s static status, while the side that lauded the brand for inclusivity now raised questions over its intentions. The speed at which Hasbro cleared the air and announced the introduction of a new toy set seemed to many netizens like patchwork to sedate the backlash.
10. Hasbro, for all the Mr Potato Head gender neutral controversy it is embroiled in, seems to be walking the middle road in the end. Sentiments that flared have been pacified with Mr Potato Head’s gender remaining intact. Inclusivity seems to have been imbibed through the new game set. The question now is: How will these Mr Potato Head gender neutral toys arriving in the fall be received by fans?