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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: You say potato, I say culture war


DTH Photo Illustration. Assistant Photo Editor Yates McConnell has some strong opinions on the recent developments in the toy world.

Editor's note: This article is satire.

Where I grew up in rural Raleigh, N.C. (see: "The Bachelor"), our potatoes had two distinct genders. 

Whether it was the type we pulled from the ground after our long days in the fields or the type we got from the toy section of our local Target, it was very easy to tell which potato was a BOY and which potato was a GIRL. 

Now, imagine my disgust, the absolute ATTACK on my culture, my upbringing, in learning that from now on, the iconic Hasbro Mr. Potato Head and Mrs. Potato Head will now be combined into one, singular, genderless "POTATO HEAD"?

I am a big believer in the adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” So many American institutions have stood the test of time unchanged, and still work perfectly today — like the electoral college and the $7.25 per hour minimum wage. 

Similar is the potato head family, which has been around since 1949, when the original Mr. Potato Head was invented, and has since become a cornerstone of American culture. 

Mr. Potato Head was the first toy advertised on television, received four votes for the mayor of Boise, Idaho in 1985, and was played by comedic legend Don Rickles in a series of universally beloved films. 

What has Potato Head done? 

Just one thing. Murdered an American icon.

The potato head family was a critical part of my upbringing and the formation of my identity as a proud, red-blooded American. Every day I used to play with my potato heads, having Mr. Potato Head coming home from his nine-to-five job at an advertising firm to Mrs. Potato Head, who has dinner waiting on the stove (a dinner, of course, of mashed potatoes and gravy), as every real American wife does. Then, they would sit down to a nice meal in silence, hatred palpably filling the air between them. 

DTH Photo Illustration. Assistant Photo Editor Yates McConnell makes two potatoes kiss.

My potato heads wore the right clothes and had the right body parts. Mr. Potato Head had, as all men do, a big black bushy mustache, and Mrs. Potato Head had her ever-present red lipstick and open-mouthed smile, as all women have at all times (ladies, ever heard a man say you should smile more? It’s because we literally can’t tell if you’re a woman otherwise). 

Sure, sometimes when Mrs. Potato Head is out running errands, Mr. Potato Head might slip into some of her clothes, and sure, maybe you can’t quite tell the difference between them when such a thing does occur, but what does it matter? 

We’ve all done it from time to time. What matters is that I know which is the man potato and which is the woman potato.

Every day, when I was done playing with them, I removed all of the body parts from the potato heads, stored them within the bodies themselves and then put the two potatoes on opposite sides of my room for storage. Heaven forbid I confuse which identical potato body is male and which is female.

How then, when I have kids of my own, can I teach them about the appropriate gender roles in our society without the help of distinctly gendered anthropomorphized starchy root vegetables? Certainly not with a Hasbro Potheyto Head. 

I learned everything I know about interacting with women based on how Mr. Potato Head, a selfish lover and serial gaslighter, treated his loving wife. This new change is an attack on childhood education, the traditional family and Americana itself.

And no, I don’t care that Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head will still be available. Giving people the OPTION of so-called “wokeness” is a travesty. It’s un-American, and as the ever-so-brilliant Mark Dice brilliantly tweeted, "It’s time for Republican states to secede.”

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If we already have this, what’s next? Real, legitimate, institutional change? 

These are some scary times, folks.