September 19, 2015


NOTE: This was the best intro video that could be found and linked. You can find the actual intro linked to several episodes and the full-length movie on YouTube
(FOX, September 12-December 5, 1998)

Hasbro, Film Roman, 20th Century Fox Television

Ken Carlson – Mr. Potato Head
Greg Ballora – Baloney
Debra Wilson – Queenie Sweet Potato, Miss Licorice Lips
Julianne Buescher – Potato Bug, Betty the Kitchen Fairy
James Murray – Canny, Johnny Rotten Apple, Dr. Fruitcake, Mr. Giblets, Biostrogath the Destroyer
Mark Bryan Wilson – Ham Monster
Brain Jacobs – Mr. Happy Whip, Aron
Lisa Kaplan – Nora
Doug Langdale - Writer

For the kid who always wanted to constantly change things about themselves came the perfect toy: Mr. Potato Head!

Playing with your food.

In 1949, George Lerner came up with the idea of making dolls out of food items. He would take potatoes out of his mother’s garden and use other fruits and vegetables to create facial features and then gave them to his sisters to play with. Deciding he was on to something, Lerner tried to sell the concept of the toy, but with memories of food rationing for the war effort still fresh in people’s minds many considered the use of food as a toy to be wasteful and his idea was rejected. Lerner eventually partnered with a food company to include plastic body parts as premiums inside boxes of cereal, called “Make a Face,” that could be applied to a potato at home.

The original Mr. Potato Head.

In 1951, Lerner approached two brothers who owned a small school supply and toy business in an attempt to remarket his idea. Henry and Merrill Hassenfeld, owners of Hassenfeld Brothers (sometimes and later permanently shortened to Hasbro), became enamored with the unique product and paid the food company $2,000 to stop distributing it and bought the rights for an additional $5,000, with Lerner getting $500 and 5% of every kit sold.

Accessories galore.

Called Mr. Potato Head, the toy became the first to be advertised on television in April of 1952. It was also the first aimed directly at children rather than adults. The toy itself was released in May of 1952 and contained hands feet,  ears, glasses and a pipe, as well as two different mouths, four noses, three hats, and eight pieces of felt to simulate facial hair. Parents would supply their children a potato on which to use all the accessories, creating their own potato man.

The toy became a hit, the first for Hasbro, and over a million kits were sold within the first year. In 1953, Mr. Potato Head gained a wife, Mrs. Potato Head, and siblings, Brother Spud and Sister Yam. Accessories soon came, including a car and trailer, a kitchen set, a stroller and pets. It wasn’t until 1964 when the toys took their most familiar form after government regulations forced the parts to be dulled and therefor unable to puncture the vegetables. As a result, Hasbro introduced the plastic potato head that allowed pieces to be inserted with pegs. Gradually, new vegetable characters were introduced, including Oscar the Orange, Pete the Pepper, Katie the Carrot and Cooky the Cucumber. A fast food-based line called Mr. Potato Head’s Picnic Pals also came on the scene.

From Toy Story.

In 1975, further changes to child safety regulations forced Mr. Potato Head’s body and accessories to double in size. This actually allowed Hasbro to market the toy to younger children who were at less risk of choking hazards on Potato Head’s parts. By 1985, Mr. Potato Head started becoming a pop culture phenomenon. The Potato Head family was brought to television with the syndicated animated series Potato Head Kids, which was paired with another Hasbro property My Little Pony ‘n’ Friends. In 1987, as part of the annual Great American Smokeout, Mr. Potato Head surrendered his pipe to Surgeon General C. Everett Koop. Nearly a decade later, he became a major supporting character in Disney’s Toy Story franchise.

In 1998, Dan Clark and Doug Langdale developed The Mr. Potato Head Show for the Fox Kids Saturday morning block. The series was a mixture of live-action and puppets, where Mr. Potato Head (Ken Carlson) and his Kitchen Crew produced a weekly television show for the TV Guys Aron (Brian Jacobs) and Nora (Lisa Kaplan). The series followed the Kitchen Crew through their misadventures in trying to get the show done; especially since the bosses never quite knew what they wanted the show to be every week, leading to a variety of genres each episode.

P.H., Queenie, Potato Bug, Baloney, Dr. Fruitcake, and Canny.

Along with Mr. Potato Head (known as P.H. to his friends and bosses), there was his assistant, Baloney (Greg Ballora), a stack of baloney; Queenie Sweet Potato (Debra Wilson), a sweet potato who was the Crew’s diva; Johnny Rotten Apple (James Murray), a rotten apple who served as the show’s musician; Dr. Fruitcake (Murray using a Transylvanian accent), a fruitcake who was the Crew’s mad scientist; Miss Licorice Lips (Wilson), a pair of black licorice lips that served as the show’s announcer; Mr. Happy Whip (Jacbos), a can of whipped cream that would spray whenever he was startled; and Canny (Murray), a dog made out of cans. The show’s writer, portrayed by Langdale, worked out of a closet. Other characters included the Potato Bug (Buescher), Mr. Giblets (Murray), and the Ham Monster (Mark Bryan Wilson) created by Dr. Fruitcake. Whenever the Crew needed advice, Betty the Kitchen Fairy (Julianne Buescher), would appear to counsel them with a touch of disdain and insults. Betty was rendered in static animation, with a real mouth superimposed on her face and the occasional arm movement as she waved her wand.

Let's go to the video tape.

The series debuted on September 12, 1998. It was produced by Hasbro with Film Roman and 20th Century Fox Television, and had a theme by Mark Mothersbaugh. Mothersbaugh also scored the series with Ernie Mannix. Along with Betty, another animated character was the villain Blostrogath the Destroyer (Murray); a monster accidentally unleashed by Queenie. Scene changes were also accompanied by animated transitions; usually falling potatoes, Mr. Potato Head parts and or a hand doing different things. Unfortunately, unlike the toy on which it was based, The Mr. Potato Head Show failed to generate significant ratings and only lasted a single season. Fittingly enough, the final two episodes, “Not With A Bang,” dealt with the show’s cancellation as the Kitchen Crew had to fend off an alien invasion. The finale was later released as a movie on VHS with additional footage.

Mr. Potato Head continues to do well for Hasbro, being inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2000. He has been featured in television commercials for Burger King and Lays, in video games such as Hasbro’s Family Game Night series, and continues to gain new outfits with licensing partners such as Marvel Comics and Star Wars

“Aliens Dig Baloney” (9/12/98) – Aliens come to Earth seeking a new ruler, Baloney accidentally kills P.H.’s favorite plant, and Dr. Fruitcake creates the Ham Monster.

“Royal Pain” (9/19/98) – Queenie discovers she’s descended from an Egyptian Pharaoh and P.H. uses a rebuilt Ham Monster as a test audience for his show for two-year-olds.

“The Thing in the Microwave” (9/26/98) – P.H. plays a hero called Spudman while Queenie unleashes an ancient evil from a bag of popcorn.

“Secret Agent Mania” (10/3/98) – P.H. has to make a spy show while trying to find out how his competition managed to copy his previous show.

“Cheap Shots” (10/10/98) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE

“Potato Verite” (10/17/98) - NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE

“Forsake Me Not” (10/24/98) - NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE

“Equal Writes” (10/31/98) - NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE

“Robotato” (11/7/98) - NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE

“Pillow” (11/14/98) - NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE

“Smart Attack” (11/21/98) - NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE

“Not With a Bang Part 1” (11/28/98) – The show is cancelled and the Crew goes their separate ways.

“Not With a Bang Part 2” (12/5/98) – The Kitchen Crew reunites to repel the alien invasion and save their show.

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