Changing times calls for changing toys

Photo of the original Mr. Potato Head (Photo

In an attempt for greater inclusivity, on Feb. 25, Hasbro released a statement saying that the Mr. Potato Head brand name and logo will drop the Mr. and change to the non-binary name Potato Head. Out of similar concern for more inclusive products, just five days after Hasbro released this news, Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced that they would stop publishing six books that contain harmful racial stereotypes. Both controversial decisions have since taken the internet by storm, sparking both support and backlash.

Hasbro made this change to its brand name to allow its consumers to have more freedom in choosing the gender orientation of their potatoes. After receiving criticism later that day, Hasbro clarified their decision in a tweet noting that Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head “aren’t going anywhere,” as these toys will continue to be sold, just under a different brand name. Although there was no pressure for the company to make the switch in their brand, Hasbro wanted to make their toy more inclusive for children of all identities.

With similar motivations, the following six Dr. Seuss books will stop being published because of racist stereotypes and imagery that are “hurtful and wrong:” And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super! and The Cat’s Quizzer. According to the company, “Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families.”

There are very mixed feelings about these decisions. Some people argue that trying to be more inclusive in these areas is too radical, not helpful or even unnecessary. Tucker Carlson of Fox News went as far as to say that trying to “cancel” Dr. Seuss is “demented.” On the other end of the spectrum, some people feel that being further educated on these topics can be beneficial to children and adults alike.

Compilation of well-known Dr. Suess characters (Photo courtesy of

According to a 2019 Pew Research Center study, younger Americans are more likely to be familiar with the use of gender-neutral pronouns. Therefore, in a world that is calling upon greater usage of the proper pronouns, it is important for kids to be exposed at a young age to toys that reflect the developments of modern society. The study also found that 47 percent of all adults said they are uncomfortable using gender-neutral pronouns, a statistic that decreased with age. Thus, these kids’ toys can also serve as a learning curve for adults, prompting them to be more accepting of different gender identities.

 Equally important to the acceptance of gender identity is the effort to eliminate exposure of children to racist or stereotypical ideas, like the ones found in some of Dr. Seuss’s work. Introducing children to work that instead reflects equality and acceptance of all backgrounds can help erase some of the stigmas that exist today.

Although these minor changes in company branding may seem insignificant or unnecessary, the underlying motive behind trying to create children’s toys and publish books that reflect the current social climate is important in raising accepting and aware children.