Mr. Potato Head Needs a New Warning Label!

By Josh Bloom — Jun 23, 2016
Is nothing sacred anymore? We are constantly bombarded by chemical scares, so much so that even labels of our childhood icons aren't able to avoid ridiculous scrutiny. Since Mr. Potato Head's arrived back in 1952, he clearly needs a new label to reflect the toxicological wisdom and sensitivity of modern times.
mphdanger Is Mr. Potato Head dangerous? Photo credit:

Cautionary advice for today: Just when you think you are aware of every terrifying chemical that you will ever encounter, do not rest. There is always something else that awaits you. But, who could have possibly guessed this latest threat?

In the spirit of gratitude, let's pause and give thanks to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) for ensuring that at least some of today's children will survive the toxisphere in which we dwell. It states:

“Environmental Defense believes consumers are entitled to know what chemicals their children are being exposed to ... Since the government doesn’t know, the manufacturers are the only ones who can tell us.”

And well they should! Without such keen advice, the following study, which was conducted by — and certainly ranks right up there with the development of the polio vaccine — may never have been conducted. It is a chemical analysis of various body parts of the toy, Mr. Potato Head.


For any of you parents who may have been irresponsible enough to allow your child to own Mr. Potato Head, there is good news and bad. Although no traces of toxic metals were detected, Mr. Head did contain disturbingly high amounts of chlorine (1), especially in his green hat and pink ears (orange arrows).

This suggests that the toy could have an improved safety profile:TwoMPH

What I find especially intriguing is that two of his body parts would seem to contain no physical matter at all.



Which suggests an even safer version of the toy:


Environmental Defense Fund-approved version of Mr. Potato Head

Finally, since Mr. Potato Head was born in 1952, he clearly needs a new label to reflect the sensitivity of modern times, as well as the collective chemical and toxicological wisdom that has accumulated since then. Much of this comes from the scientists — sorry, I meant art history majors — at EDF, NRDC and EWG, who spend their days formulating one brilliant policy after another. I suggest the following label:


And, a special label will be required for New York City. We have our own Mr. Potato Head running things.

deBeb New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Enemy of salt


(1) I'm going to assume that you don't believe that Mr. Potato Head's various body parts really consist of chlorine gas — a chemical weapon. Rather, the chlorine is in the form of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is made from the toxic, carcinogenic chemical vinyl chloride.

Josh Bloom

Director of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Science

Dr. Josh Bloom, the Director of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Science, comes from the world of drug discovery, where he did research for more than 20 years. He holds a Ph.D. in chemistry.

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