OPINION: Decision to change toy name to “Potato Head” provides progressive model for other gendered toys


Bud Spencer

Hasbro’s decision is in trend with many other toy companies trying to promote diversity.

On Thurs. Feb 25, Hasbro announced their re-launch of the Mr. Potato Head toy, neutralizing it to become more inclusive by changing the name to “Potato Head.” 

This announcement sparked confusion as the beloved and nostalgic toys that have been around since 1952 plan to remove both the “Mr”. and “Mrs.” designations from playsets to be launched in the fall of 2021. However, Hasbro clarified that Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head will still be around and sold in stores along with the new launch. 

“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,” Hasbro tweeted. 

The reason for Hasbro’s relaunch is so that the brand can focus on being more inclusive by creating playsets that allow children to create their own Potato Head family, and making sure that everyone feels “welcome in the Potato Head world.” 

Hasbro has highlighted something important that children growing up need to learn: gender is more about expression than sex, and it should be something that is not forced upon anyone, or even pre-decided. 

By changing children’s toys to focus on inclusivity, the world becomes an easier place to drop restricting gender constructs that have been around for a very long time.

Toys are a big part of expression as a child, and they influence the kind of person they will grow up to be. Introducing the idea that gender expression is a personal choice where there is no right or wrong will create a more accepting and free generation.

Hasbro is not the only toy company that is modernizing their products. Mattel has focused on inclusion by creating Barbie dolls with different skin colors, body types and disabilities. Thomas the Tank Engine has included girl trains, along with different ethnicities, and American Girl is now selling a boy doll. 

People might say that Hasbro has just followed the steps of other toy companies without really caring about the issues of gender at hand, and although this statement may be true, I don’t think that it really matters. Hasbro has made a change that is necessary in the world we live in today, and that means that whether or not they agree that gender should not be given a title, they recognize the need to drop theirs. 

As a child growing up in the early 2000’s, it was difficult to find toys that were inclusive and that didn’t influence me to believe that a normal girl wore a dress and that a perfect family consisted of a mom and dad. My parents didn’t even let me play with Barbies because they didn’t want me to believe in the skinny blonde female stereotype that they were advertising.

Hasbro is taking steps forward so that children can feel seen and allowed to figure out who they are by really being able to use their imagination and not being restricted by the toys they play with.