On February 25 2021, social media erupted into outrage over a widely-aggregated Associated Press item claiming that the children’s toy previously known as Mr. Potato Head was being changed to be “gender neutral”:
A linked article began:
Mr. Potato Head is no longer a mister.
Hasbro, the company that’s made the potato-shaped plastic toy for nearly 70 years, is giving the spud a gender neutral new name: Potato Head. The change will appear on boxes this year.
Predictable outrage about “woke culture,” which in previous inauthentically organized and promoted flaps was called “political correctness” immediately followed the tweet, such as Piers Morgan lamenting “woke imbeciles destroying the world”:
The Associated Press article appears to have been what originally kicked off the Twitter outcry.
On February 25 2021, Hasbro issued a press release about new Potato Head toys. That news release did not mention a “gender neutral” Mr. Potato Head — this is what it said:
Hasbro today [February 25 2021]announced the iconic brand will be reimagined for the modern consumer.
Launching this Fall , the CREATE YOUR POTATO HEAD FAMILY is a celebration of the many faces of families allowing kids to imagine and create their own Potato Head family with 2 large potato bodies, 1 small potato body, and 42 accessories, their potato family can have up to 2 parents, and a baby.
CREATE YOUR POTATO HEAD FAMILY is compatible with most standard Potato Head offerings and is a great addition to your Potato Head collection for kids ages 2 and up.
Hasbro is making sure all feel welcome in the Potato Head world by officially dropping the Mr. from the Mr. Potato Head brand name and logo to promote gender equality and inclusion. In the fall, the new Potato Family Pack “Create Your Potato Head Family” will celebrate the many faces of families allowing kids to imagine and create their own Potato Head family.
The name change will come with a fresh branding look with a whimsical color palette and more inclusive messaging along with new product to appeal to the modern consumer.
Potato Head has provided endless creative possibilities to our preschoolers for almost 70 years and will continue to do so with the new POTATO HEAD CREATE YOUR POTATO HEAD FAMILY.
The possibilities to create your own families are endless with mixing and mashing all the parts and pieces.
Hasbro stated that it was “officially dropping the Mr. from the Mr. Potato Head brand name and logo to promote gender equality and inclusion,” a statement indicating a broader “Potato Head” brand, not a “cancellation” of Mr. Potato Head himself. However, no one actually seemed to read what Hasbro said about Mr. Potato Head, and the claim that Hasbro “made him gender neutral” under some sort of magical PC or wokeness spell continued spreading.
At 3:37 PM on February 25 2021, Hasbro attempted to staunch the tears about the “cancellation” and/or “neutering” of Mr. Potato Head with a tweet affirming that both Mrs. and Mr. Potato Head would remain part of the Potato Head Family line:
In an attempt at levity and likely from under a deluge of angry posts, tweets, and emails, Hasbro’s verified account sought to quell the outrage, explaining:
Hold that Tot – your main spud, MR. POTATO HEAD isn’t going anywhere! 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
In other words, Hasbro’s press release on February 25 2021 did not contain an announcement that Mr. Potato Head was becoming gender neutral, although that was widely reported and claimed, as is customary with coordinated campaigns against inclusivity.
Hasbro stated they were expanding the Potato Head brand by dropping “Mr.” from the line, and introducing a new toy “allowing kids to imagine and create their own Potato Head family with 2 large potato bodies, 1 small potato body, and 42 accessories, their potato family can have up to 2 parents, and a baby,” i.e., providing toys in addition to Mrs. and Mr. Potato Head. After viral outrage ensued, Hasbro confirmed Mr. Potato Head “isn’t going anywhere.”