Our Mr. Potato Head and his DARK controversial past!
If you've ever watched Toy Story you are familiar with Mr. Potato Head. Coming to you from little ole Rhode Island this is Mr. Potato Head a heralded RI icon from the HASBRO co. and he has a dark past!
This is our Mr. Potato Head. He's a 6'tall mammoth of steel and fiberglass. He is "The Golfer" and he used to have a huge red golf hat as well but some naughty person stole it! We are glad he was complete with hair under there! He was part of a local attraction blog in our local paper and I got the unpublished part of the Mr. Potato head statue story straight from the horse's mouth so to speak. The artist who was commissioned to paint this one in particular and at least one other. I can't reveal her name here because I haven't been able to get a hold of her for her permission.
Mr. Potato head was created by a Mr. George Lerner and put into production right here in the biggest little state in the union, Rhode Island in 1952. Mr. Potato head was the very first toy ever to be advertised on television! He was at his birth however not met with the greatest enthusiasm. The toy set included plastic and aluminum parts attached to pin like posts to insert into your own real potato. Take a second and put yourself in the shoes of a mother struggling to put food on the table for her family in 1952. With the after affects of World War II, and the Great Depression both a not so distant memory of rations and rags! Eventually the set included a plastic potato to lovingly play with.
Mr. Potato Head is the Ambassador for many things. In 1987 he gave up his signature pipe to the US Surgeon General, he was a representative for the Great American Smoke Out for the National Cancer Society & in 1992 he got the Presidential Sports Award at the White House for vowing to not be a couch potato. With the dawn of the new millennium he became the official Rhode Island ambassador of Travel & Tourism, he's also our symbol to end hunger featured on special license plates which the proceeds go to the Rhode Island Community Food bank.
The artist that painted ours was a cornucopia of information. Hasbro scheduled an auction and commissioned Rhode Island artists who were willing to donate their time to paint 48 giant Mr. Potato Head statues. Some of the artists received more than one and were at liberty to paint whatever they could imagine. Large white trucks pulled up to the artists workshops with fork lifts and movers. They offloaded the prefab solid white base models in various poses. However, little did they know they were poison! The base models exuded a toxic fume from whatever materials they were made from and several of the artists were hospitalized for respiratory infection and topical burns & inflammatory conditions!
So.....the blanks got picked up and brought to local auto-body shops where they were covered in layers of clear-coat and baked for several hours sealing in the toxicity. Of the original 48 only around 25 are still in existence today. Some were won at the auction and shipped over seas. Others sadly were vandalized and destroyed. The other statue commissioned by the artist who painted mine was a butterfly and it was won at the auction by a wildlife preservation society. During a summer day camp session while the camp councilor was distracted a child thought she heard a noise. The child inadvertently caused a mass hysteria where the children thought there was a person trapped inside the statue and they went Lord of the Flies and smashed the Potato to smithereens!
Er ma Gawd! Anyways if you're ever around this way there's a site that posts the locations of the statues as they are reported to be anyways. It makes for a great family photo journey. http://mattyag.tripod.com/Potato1.html
Thanx for listening and Blessed Be!