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Potato-head Proud

The U.S. Potato Board announced at its annual meeting in March that it is partnering with Hasbro to bring Mr. Potato Head (the original Spud Man, born in 1952) onboard to help promote the healthful aspects of potatoes. If the happiness on the faces of the grown men and women at the meeting is any indication of how the kids – and parents of kids – will react, I can only imagine that the partnership will be a hit.

The most exciting outcome of this partnership will be a large Mr. Potato Head balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. More than 44 million people will see the healthy Mr. Potato Head as he floats along the parade rout sporting new workout shoes and a sports watch. The balloon will bring attention to Mr. Potato Head’s new lifestyle that goes hand-in-hand with the message of USPB’s already-happening Healthy Potato campaign.

But the Hasbro-USPB partnership brings with it more than the parade balloon. It also brings with it other Mr. Potato Head promotions, including offers for a healthy Mr. Potato Head toy and Mr. Potato Head appearances at health and fitness assemblies and cafeterias with school-aged children.

The partnership is a natural one to help teach kids the value of a healthy lifestyle, as Mr. Potato Head is a staple in almost every household with young children. He already teaches hand-eye coordination, creativity and other important skills. Adding one more subject – health – to his roster of lesson plans seems a natural fit.

Perhaps this partnership with the ubiquitous Mr. Potato Head can help return potatoes to their once-natural place: the dinner table. It seems that potatoes have spent more time in the past few years fighting negative diet campaigns on the nightly news than they have being feature on nightly menus. Bringing potatoes back into the diets of Americans will not only help potato growers, it will help the American public in its push to become more healthy and active.

And with his new wardrobe and his healthy attitude, it appears Mr. Potato Head is up for the challenge of returning potatoes to their rightful place in the diets of a healthy America.

In closing, I want to mention a recent trade show I attended: the Fresh-Cut Expo. Held in Phoenix, the trade show and educational sessions taught attendees about the promising fresh-cut produce industry. The excitement and buzz in this industry, which is expected to reach $15 billion in sales by the close of 2005, is one the potato industry should get involved in. Potatoes are America’s favorite vegetable. And as such, they should be on as many breakfast, lunch and dinner plates as they can. And offering them as fresh-cut products is a natural, healthy way to do this.

Recognizing the promise of this industry, Great American Publishing has purchased Fresh Cut magazine. If you’re interested in seeing a copy of the magazine and learning what fresh-cut produce is all about, send an e-mail to circulation@freshcut.com. And, if you have any questions, please feel free to send me an e-mail at editor@spudman.com.

Originally posted Saturday, Apr. 7, 2007

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