George was born in New
York City in 1922. He invented the toy in 1952 by using pieces of
various vegetables as the parts. This didn't always sit well with
parents who preach to their kids that they shouldn't play with their
He became a household name. Not George, but his toy invention.
Our hero even enjoyed a TV and movie career. Again, not George,
but his toy invention.
George launched his invention when he sold the rights to it for
$5,000 to a cereal company. Or is it spelled "serial"? Potato,
potatoe. Either way, he had a hunch that his toy invention could do
more than just serve as a premium when parents bought a box of
So George bought back the rights for $7,000 and incurred a $2,000
short-term loss in the process.
George's invention was the first toy to be advertised on TV. This
lovable toy character even received a few write-in votes in the 1985
mayoral race in Boise, Idaho. He married in 1953. Once again, not
George, but his toy invention.
George sold the rights to his toy to the Hassenfeld brothers,
Henry and Merrill, whose company, Hasbro, manufactures and markets
To recap, here are the clues:
- George made the toy by using pieces of various vegetables.
- Potato, potatoe.
- He married in 1953.
- The toy received a few write-in votes in the 1985 mayoral
race in Boise, Idaho (which is in the heart of potato country).
[to top of second column]
We're talking about Mr. Potato Head, the toy vegetable that is
loved by kids all over the world.
Mr. Potato Head's popularity has made him the ideal spokesman --
or "spokespud" -- for many causes, and he's received many awards and
- He was the spokesman for the American Cancer Society's
annual Great American Smokeout for several years, beginning in
1987. When the surgeon general asked that Mr. Potato Head give
up smoking, Mr. Potato Head handed over his last pipe.
- In 1992, Mr. Potato Head received an award on the White
House lawn from the President's Council on Physical Fitness.
- In 2000, the Chicago Cubs had a Mr. Potato Head Day at
Wrigley Field, and Mr. Potato Head also threw out the first
pitch (wait 'til next year, Cub fans).
- Also in 2000, Mr. Potato Head was inducted into the Toy Hall
- One day in 2002, Mr. Potato Head rang the opening bell of
the New York Stock Exchange.
In the process, he created an American icon. It wasn't Mr. Potato
Head who created the icon, but rather his inventor, George Lerner.
Paul Niemann may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can learn
more about Mr. Potato Head by visiting the official Invention
Copyright Paul Niemann 2006