I’d forgotten Mr. Potato Head did not originally come with a head. This famous toy introduced in 1952 consisted of a box of pushpin eyes, ears, nose, lips, shoes and hat to be inserted into real potatoes or other vegetables or fruit. Three problems emerged: First, consumers considered it wasteful and irresponsible to use food as a toy. Second, the vegetables rotted. Third, the pushpins were sharp. Not to mention, the small pieces could be easily swallowed. A plastic head and government regulations eventually took care of these problems. Also, Mr. Potato Head was the first toy advertised on television directed at children instead of parents? (Some sources claim it was actually the first toy advertised on television.) Sales peaked at over a million, and toy marketing changed forever. By 1974, the plastic potato body had doubled in size, and the Potato family had grown in numbers and popularity. New family members included Mrs. Potato Head, Brother Spud and Sister Yam. Pets were called Spud-ettes. As they say, the rest is history: More accessories, more characters, parade appearances, spokesperson, theme park characters, television and movies, clothing items and much more–all started by a young man named George Lerner who used to make make dolls from fruits and vegetables for his little sisters.
Funny thing happened while I was doing some research for my next Flavor of the Month post. The reason for THIS post is to help me remember it.
In the midst of browsing through “potato games,” a warning appeared on my computer screen to call Apple immediately because I had a virus (or viruses) that could potentially compromise my security. No matter what I did, the message would not go away, so I figured it was the real deal.
After 90 minutes of talking with computer whiz kids Steve, Dave, Mark and Aybhi (all from India or Pakistan), the problem is now resolved, and with no loss of data. Whew!
However, in my brief browsing through potato games, I could not believe how many are out there. Some of you who play computer games may know about them, but I didn’t. In any case, because I’m afraid that may have been the source of the virus that finally triggered the final warning message, I’m not ever playing around with potato games again.
Seems like somebody has written or said something quotable on just about any topic, even potatoes. Most of the quotable quotes I found refer to “meat and potatoes,” which helped me narrow my selection. Thanks to Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations and Google, here are three I like.
“What small potatoes we all are, compared with what we might be.”–Charles Dudley Warner.
“What I say is that, if a fellow really likes potatoes, he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow.”–A.A. Milne.
“Papa, potatoes, poultry, prunes and prism are all very good words for the lips.”–Charles Dickens.
Had it not been for the Irish potato famine in the mid-1800s, I would have grown up in an entirely different town. As a little girl, I didn’t know the connection between Hubbardston and the potato blight that drove millions of Irish to Canada and the United States. I did know a lot of people in my town were named O’Connell, O’Conner, O’Brien and O’Grady.
Truth was, except for a few neighborhood children, we did not mix with the Irish very much. They were Catholic and we were Methodists, and the creek cutting through the center of our little town created a physical boundary that literally separated two distinct centers of activity: St. John the Baptist Catholic church and school on one side of Fish Creek, and the Methodist church and public school on the opposite side.
I left Hubbardston many years ago, and I don’t claim to be an expert on its history, but I understand a man named John Cowman was the first Irishman to settle in this part of central Michigan. By 1870, seventy Irish families had come to the area and settled west of the village of Hubbardston. Most residents of “Little Ireland” as it was called, were farmers, and the land was perfect for growing potatoes.
Today Hubbardston has no Methodist church or schools, public or parochial. While the Catholic congregation is not what it was during my childhood days, it is still active, as is the Hubbardston Area Historical Society. I’m happy that my Methodist mother and sister are actively involved in that organization with many of their Irish Catholic friends.
At this time of year everyone in Hubbardston claims to be Irish at heart if not by blood line. Even though I doubt there’s a drop of Irish blood running through my veins, whenever I turn a calendar page to March, I think of that unique little village I call my hometown. It seems like a good place to resurrect this blog after many months of neglect while I worked full-time on another project. So begins my March 2015 Flavor of the Month: Potatoes.