Mr. Potato Head was first manufactured back in 1952 as a bundle of plastic parts and pushpins, the idea being that you would stick them into a real potato that would serve as the toy’s head. The first toy ever advertised on television, Mr. Potato Head would rely on root vegetables from family kitchens until 1964, when rotting vegetables were replaced with everlasting plastic shells. Despite the strange practice of storing spare face parts in his butt, Mr. Potato Head has remained a childhood favorite, now marketed under the Playskool brand owned by toy giant Hasbro.
Working with grocer Asda’s Wonky Veg project, Hasbro recently created a bespoke Wonky Mr. Potato Head to help raise awareness of food waste and to raise money for surplus food redistribution charity, FareShare.
“It’s great to see the appetite for wonky veg has spread to the toy department and we’re thrilled to be working with both Hasbro and FareShare to further support the fight against food waste,” said Gemma Bergin, Buying Manager for Toys at Asda. “The reaction from our customers to wonky fruit and veg has been fantastic, so we really hope the Wonky Mr Potato Head gets the same response.”
The one-of-a-kind toy was auctioned off on eBay, available to bidders in the United Kingdom. Bidding began at just £0.99, and after receiving 67 bids over the course of the week, it sold for £550.00 on Sunday. 100 percent of the proceeds will go to FareShare in its aim to tackle food waste and hunger.
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“At FareShare, we are always happy to give surplus wonky veg a home – it’s the taste, not the shape that counts, and the charities and community groups we support can turn them into delicious meals for people in need,” said Daniel Nicholls, Corporate Development Officer at FareShare. “We are very grateful that the proceeds from this unique Wonky Mr Potato Head auction will enable us to help those charities feed more people.”
Nicholls added that every £1 raised means FareShare can provide enough food to make four meals for vulnerable and hungry men, women and children in the UK. On Monday, the charity confirmed on Twitter that the sale would help provide food for 2,200 meals.
A 2015 study revealed that the UK is the worst-performing European country in terms of food waste, resulting in a host of initiatives including TV shows, redistribution schemes, edible solutions, and more. The waste reduction experts at WRAP have estimated that increasing the prevention of food waste could save grocery retailers and food manufacturers in the UK £300 million a year, and that food date labelling confusion alone costs UK consumers nearly £600 million a year.