NEW YORK (Nexstar) — The company that makes Mr. Potato Head says it will start selling the spud-shaped plastic toys under a new gender-neutral brand name: Potato Head.
Hasbro said Mr. Potato Head, which has been around for about 70 years, needed a modern makeover. The change will appear on boxes this year.
Toymakers have been updating their classic brands to appeal to kids today. Barbie has shed its blonde image and now comes in multiple skin tones and body shapes. Thomas the Tank Engine added more girl characters. And American Girl is now selling a boy doll.
Kimberly Boyd, a Hasbro executive who works on the Potato Head brand, told Fast Company that kids love the toy because it provides a canvas onto which they can project their own experiences.
“The sweet spot for the toy is two to three years old. Kids like dressing up the toy, then playing out scenarios from their life,” Boyd said. “This often takes the form of creating little potato families, because they’re learning what it means to be in a family.”
The Potato Heads played into this tendency to create families over the decades. In 2012, the toy giant celebrated Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head‘s 60th wedding anniversary with a boxed set featuring the couple.
While the plastic potatoes will be sold under a new brand name, Hasbro said in a statement that Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head “aren’t going anywhere” and will still be called by the same names.
Today, Hasbro executives said they want to stop leaning so heavily into this traditional family structure.
“Culture has evolved,” she tells Fast Company. “Kids want to be able to represent their own experiences. The way the brand currently exists—with the “Mr.” and “Mrs.”—is limiting when it comes to both gender identity and family structure.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.