The first toy advertised on TV was Mr. Potato Head.

  • Mr. Potato Head
Mr. Potato Head
Robert Linder/ Unsplash

While toy commercials are ubiquitous today, they were virtually unheard of before April 30, 1952. That day, a television ad for Mr. Potato Head aired for the first time. George Lerner created an early version of the toy tuber in 1949, and sold the rights to Hassenfeld Brothers (which became Hasbro) three years later. The original package contained 30 plastic accessories, including facial features, hands, and feet, which could be affixed to any real potato or similar vegetable. What transformed the toy into a major success, however, was the innovative TV advertising campaign that soon followed.

The inaugural Mr. Potato Head commercial was the first of its kind to advertise directly to children rather than their parents, revolutionizing the marketing industry. The ad featured a cartoon mascot talking to kids about how to play with Mr. Potato Head and all the fun they could have. More than a million kits were sold in the first year, and the Mr. Potato Head line soon expanded to include a Mrs. Potato Head, Brother Spud, Sister Yam, and many additional parts. When new government regulations in the 1960s forced the company to pivot away from the sharp accessories necessary to puncture real potatoes, Hasbro began selling a plastic potato body with premade holes.

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