NEW YORK (CBS NEWS) - Employees of toy giant Hasbro gathered recently at their Rhode Island headquarters — not to toast a strong earnings report, or introduce a new product — but to celebrate the 60th birthday of a man who’s served them very well: Mr. Potato Head. Over the past six decades, there have been 100,000,000 Mr. and Mrs. Potato Heads sold in 30 countries.
In the beginning Mr. Potato Head was just a collection of push-pin eyes, ears, nose and lips, for kids to attach to real fruits and vegetables. A distinct toy, it the first marketed directly to kids through a brand new medium: TV. Jerry Perez, senior vice president of Playskool, who oversees the Mr. Potato Head brand, said, “The minute he came out he was advertised on television, which was really pretty breakthrough at that time. It was a brand new way to tell the public about your toy and it really caught on.”
The toy caught on so quickly, in fact, the playtime tater made more than $4 million in its first year alone. Less than a year later, on Valentine’s Day in 1953, the spud met his spouse.
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