Mr. Potato Head is a toy consisting of a plastic model of a potato which can be decorated with a variety of plastic parts (such as eyes, ears, shoes, hats, noses, and mouths) that can attach to the main body. Invented and developed by George Lerner, the toy has been manufactured and distributed by Hasbro since 1952. Originally produced as body parts with pushpins that would be stuck into a real potato, the toy set has included a plastic body since 1964. The character was later joined by a female counterpart, Mrs. Potato Head, and both appeared in animated form in Disney's Toy Story franchise.
History with the Macy's Parade
In 2005, The United States Potato Board commissioned a balloon of Mr. Potato Head to be made for the parade, to encourage children to eat right and exercise, as part of preventing ongoing drastic obesity rates in the early 2000s. That year, while flying in the windy parade, Mr. Potato Head nearly flew by the NBC telebooth, surprising then hosts Al Roker, Katie Couric and Matt Lauer. He would make subsequent appearances in 2006 and 2007 when he was retired. While the balloon was not related to his appearance in the Toy Story movies, his co-star Buzz Lightyear spiritually replaced him the following year in 2008, coincidentally, as mentioned by Matt Lauer, in the international year of the potato.
In 2011, Mr. Potato Head appeared as a walk-around character on the Hats Off To Our Heritage float, alongside many other retired balloon characters. The character's costume was based on his current and most popular design, introduced in the 2000s.