A noticeably slimmed down Mr. Potato Head (pictured, left) debuted at the recent 2011 International Toy Fair. How much thinner is Hasbro’s iconic ball of playful starch? Apparently so much so that he can now wear pants!
What exactly is the cultural implication of such a change? Well, considering that potatoes (undeservedly) get a bum rap when it comes to nutrition – and that Mr. Potato Head was the star of the US Potato Board’s “Healthy Mr. Potato Head” Nutrition Campaign from 2004-2007 – maybe it’s a PR move to improve your perception of potatoes?
According to the USDA’s Economic Research Service, 64% of US potato consumption is in the form of processed potatoes…which is code for french fries and potato chips. While potatoes – in their unfried and moderately portioned versions – do have nutritional benefits, most of us don’t need the added calories, fat and salt from the most commonly consumed potato products.
So, whether or not Mr. Potato Head’s slim-down is a marketing gimmick, or a sign of our fat-obsessed times – his recent weight loss isn’t likely to cause severe medical problems…which is more than can be said for his colleague, Mattel’s Barbie, who at her projected actual height of over 7 feet, would – according to one Finnish study – lack the 17-22% body fat required for menstruation!