Geek Trivia

The First Toy Advertised On Television Was?

Mr. Potato Head
Gilbert Erector Sets
The Slinky
The Kewpie Doll
Which 1920s Era Game Came Roaring Back To Life In The 1990s?

Answer: Mr. Potato Head

It’s a curious thing to think about from the perspective of our advertising soaked present: the very first toy to appear in a television advertisement. While toys had been advertised in print for ages (typically in ads targeting the adults who would buy them, but also in publications, like comic books, consumed by children), it took quite a bit longer for toy ads to appear on television.

The very first television ad spot devoted to a toy was to promote the Mr. Potato Head toy in the spring of 1952 when it debuted. The event was, if you’ll pardon the obvious pun, no small potatoes. Not only was it the first time a toy had been advertised on television, but it was also the first time a televised advertisement had targeted children, period, and it revolutionized both toy marketing and marketing in general.

You may notice from our photo here, a screenshot of the original Hasbro ad, that Mr. Potato Head looks a bit odd. That’s because it wasn’t until 1964 that Hasbro introduced the modern plastic Mr. Potato Head kit. The original toy was a group of accessories that you stuck into an actual potato (or other vegetables).

Image courtesy of Hasbro.