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You are cordially invited to Mr. Potato Head’s wedding this fall. He is marrying his longtime partner, another Mr. Potato Head And I promise it will be the party of the year with – you guessed it – lots of spuds on the menu

The toy giant Hasbro names its legendary Mr. Potato Head toy by putting down the “Mr.”From the name, at first glance, it might seem like a subtle shift, but it’s meant to deviate from traditional gender norms, especially when it comes to starting Potato Head families – how toddlers often play with the toy, according to Hasbro’s research. But ab.” This fall, when the new brand is unveiled, children will have a blank board to start same-sex families or single parents.It is a prime example of how traditional toy brands are evolving to make it into the 21st Century to remain relevant

[Image: Hasbro] Hasbro has Mr. Potato Head in 1952 for the princely sum of $ 098 (or $ 10 in today’s currency) At that time, families had to deliver their own real potato, which the children could enjoy thanks to plastic parts in the box such as hands, feet and eyes as well as accessories such as pipes and Pieces of felt that were meant to turn into little people could be mustaches.The following year, Ms. Potato Head was launched with feminized accessories such as hair bows and red high heels.The Potato Heads were the first toys to be marketed directly to children, and the boy implemented this strategy like gangbuster: more than a million kits were sold in the first year

Potato Head’s continued success is based on its silliness, says Kimberly Boyd, SVP and GM at Hasbro who works on the Potato Head brand, the idea of ​​a potato person with a giant mustache is generally funny, especially for the sensibilities of young children But After that initial laugh, Boyd says that children keep engaging with the toy because it provides a screen to project their own experiences onto. “The sweet spot for the toy is two to three years old,” she says, “Children like it putting on the toys and then playing scenarios from their life. This often takes the form of starting small potato families as they learn what it means to be in a family ”

[Photo: Hasbro] Over the decades, the Potato Head brand has explicitly taken this tendency towards starting families into account Potato Head family sets with male and female characters as well as smaller potato children In 2012 Hasbro celebrated its 60th birthday Wedding anniversary of mr and Frau Kartoffelkopf with a box that identifies the couple. But eight years later, the brand wants to stop leaning so heavily into this traditional family structure. “Culture has developed,” she says. “Children want to be able to present their own experiences. how the brand currently exists – with the “Mr”And” woman “- is restrictive when it comes to both gender identity and family structure”

[Photo: Hasbro] The brand’s solution is to drop the gender honorary title altogether. This means that the toys do not impose a fixed concept of gender identity or gender expression so that children can do what is most natural for them feels like: a girl potato might want to wear pants and a boy potato might wear earrings Hasbro will also sell box sets that don’t have a normative family structure.This approach is clever because it allows children to apply their own ideas about gender, sexuality and family to the toy project without offending parents who have more conservative ideas about family

[Photo: Hasbro] This type of freedom isn’t that common in children’s toys. In recent years, some traditional brands have evolved to keep up with the values ​​of many today’s parents Mattel has worked, for example, to make Barbie dolls more ethnically diverse and size-related.But few have crossed the lines of gender or sexuality.The Barbie and American Girl storylines involve straight marriages, and the many Disney princesses who fill our lives are getting married Princes or abstain from marriage altogether

This can be confusing for children who live in progressive milieus where they are exposed to many different family structures.In my daughter’s school, for example, children seem constantly to try to make sense of it, like the heteronormative narratives around them coincide with their everyday reality in which some families have two mothers or two fathers and others have a single parent. When my daughter plays dress-up in class, she sometimes marries a boy and sometimes a girl It feels strange that not all toys give her that freedom

But soon she can plan the Potato Head wedding of her dreams and she will be able to decide exactly what the couple looks like

Elizabeth Segran, PhDis a senior executive at Fast Company. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Mr Potato Head

World news – USA – The legendary Mr Potato Head to be rebranded for the 21st Century