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#childsafetytips | Mr. Potato Head? Not a problem — but these toys were | #parenting | #parenting | #kids


Just a short while ago, like back in February, if you posted a photo of Mr. Potato Head “reading” a book by Dr. Seuss, you would most likely have received relatively innocuous comments along the lines of “Cute throwback pic, I had both of those as I kid!” or “I don’t get it, why is a potato reading a book? What’s the message?”

Post that same pic today and you’ll start a Twitter war.

Of course, Hasbro didn’t actually change Mr. Potato Head’s gender or take the “Mr.” from its name, nor did the Biden administration have anything to do with Seuss Enterprises pulling six books from its catalog. Hysterical reactions aside, seeing Mr. Potato Head and Dr. Seuss all over the news got me to thinking (here comes the segue!) about other toys and games with roots in the 20th century that would be problematic today — not due to political/social implications, but because they were dangerous and/or stupid.

Vac-U-Form by Mattel

Hey kids, how would you like to learn about the industrial process of vacuum forming! The Vac-U-Form was a metal machine with a hot plate on which you would place a piece of plastic that could be molded into forms such as a plane or a dolphin. That’s right: you’d plug it in, warm it up, and start heating plastic!

Pay no heed to the “PERFECTLY NORMAL’ smoke emanating from your Vac-U-Form.
Sun-Times file

From Mattel’s 23-page instruction booklet, and they’re the ones using capital letters: “Allow the Vac-U-Form to warm up for 10 minutes. WHEN YOUR VAC-U-FORM IS NEW, THE HEATING CHAMBER WILL SMOKE FOR 5 TO 10 MINUTES THE FIRST TIME YOU TURN IT ON. THIS IS PERFECTLY NORMAL.”

Little Lady Hot Stove, Creepy Crawlers

In the same vein as the Vac-U-Form, there was the Little Lady Hot Stove, which looked like something out of a tenement apartment in a Nelson Algren novel, and reportedly generated more powerful heat than an actual, full-size kitchen stove; and Creepy Crawlers, which afforded the little ones the chance to pour a substance called “Plastigoop” into metal molds shaped like bugs and bake ’em until the noxious fumes filled the air.



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