This month there has been a hue and cry over the supposed Mr Potato head scandal. Hasbro Toys decided to change the brand name of their popular toy from Mr Potato Head to simply Potato Head. Why? Because they also make a Mrs Potato Head and they wanted to promote another product called the Potato Head Family that includes a child. The brand name Mr Potato Head no longer reflected the scope of items they sold.
Cancel culture critics raved that by removing the Mr. title Hasbro was making their toy gender-neutral. What if they were? The majority of Hasbro customers would probably have no problem with that. But gender-neutrality obviously wasn’t Hasbro’s sole intent because they made it clear they were going to continue selling Mr Potato Head and Mrs Potato Head separately. Customers who wanted gender-specific potato heads could still have them. The company had simply changed its overarching brand name to Potato Head.
Ever since the product was invented 70 years ago kids have had the freedom to dress up their potato head creations any way they like. The idea of the name change wasn’t to cancel Mr Potato Head. It was to make the Potato Head toys more inclusive and popular with current kids and families!
The Hasbro business decision got major news play on the Fox channel with commentators claiming this was just another example of cancel culture. I am not sure what got cancelled? Politicians, entertainers and political pundits alike weighed in on the supposed ‘scandal.’
I’ve watched kids play with the Potato Head toys in classrooms and homes and blithely unaware of gender designations they dress each potato head using whatever items they wish. And that’s how it should be. The human family is diverse and so kids will dress their potato head characters in ways that reflect their own experience or in ways their imaginations suggest.
In a time when there is a pandemic sweeping across the world surely there are more important things to get upset about than a toy company changing their brand name slightly?