8. Mr. Potato Head
As a child, Brooklyn-born toy maker George Lerner would create “dolls” out of vegetables from his mother’s garden, using potatoes as their bodies and carrots, grapes and other items for body parts and facial features. He would make the dolls for his younger sisters to play with, and later developed his idea into the Mr. Potato Head we know and love today.
The toy was first sold only as parts: hands, feet, ears, two mouths, two pairs of eyes, four noses, three hats, eyeglasses, a pipe, and eight felt pieces mimicking facial hair. It did not initially come with the plastic potato, and children were encouraged to use actual potatoes to create their very own Mr. Potato Heads. This idea was controversial and thought to be wasteful at first due to the food rationing taking place during World War II. Lerner could only sell the plastic parts as toys in cereal boxes, until 1951 when the Hassenfeld Brothers (Hasbro) bought the invention and monopolized it.