inventions Rip Taylor

The REAL Rip Taylor #7: Inventor of Mr. Potato Head

8:01:00 AMPaul Clemente

 The year was 1949, and the young ingenious Rip Taylor (15) served as a page for the US Senate in Washington DC. He delivered documents, distributed The Congressional Record, helped out in the Senate chambers, and got to raise and lower the flag on the Capitol's roof. One fateful day he was delivering a now forgotten document to Sen. Harry P. Cain (R-WA) where Rip was immediately enamored  back by Cain's charm and charisma.  They had a brief conversation regarding the purchasing of a new television set for Sen. Cain's office and where the best place for it would be. It was then where Rip expressed his love, and fascination for the television set, mentioning how his family has not yet gotten one. Sen. Cain invited the young wide-eyed Rip back to his chambers to catch the Brooklyn Dodgers vs. New York Yankees World Series on CBS later in the week.

A platonic friendship developed between the two as the weeks passed by, as later Rip would admit, "The man's name was Harry P Cain! C'mon! I take what I can get! Brahhhh-ba-pa-pa!"

With the exceptional work ethic Rip had, and his newly found connection with Senator Cain, he found himself invited to work the Congressional Christmas dinner of 1949.  He was working in the kitchen as a bus boy cleaning off the empty plates, and refilling water. It was then Senator Cain pulled him aside while clearing off his salad plate and introduced him to Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-WI) who later would become the public face of fighting Communism, during the Cold War. 
That kid was f*cking funny!

Senator Cain said, "Hey, Joey this is one of our pages, (Rip). This kid is hilarious, and a hard f*cking worker! Hey, kid tell make this guy laugh, help him get the stick out of his *ss"

Rip was put on the spot with now several US Senator's looking in his direction. Seeing a baked potato left over on Senator McCarthy's plate he quickly snatched it and impaled a near-by pen into it. It loosely resembled a penis, and Rip shouted, "Look at this hot SPUD!" as he made it jitterbug across the dining room table.

The entire table erupted with laughter, as fellow page George Lerner looked on in jealousy. The senator's embraced Rip's sense of humor as he entertained them for the rest of the night lip syching to "All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth" by Spike Jones and telling bad knock knock jokes.

The summer of 1950 Rip altered his design for the potato man (which he called the hot spud), adding eyes, hands, and feet made of broken flower pots he smoothed down by grinding it against the sidewalk outside of his house. When the first prototype was almost finished Rip was conscripted to serve in the Korean War.

Rip served as a mess hall cook from 1950-1952 where he included a show after every meal. Potatoes were a main part of the soldier's diet, so he his "Hot Spud" concept was a big part of his after dinner entertainment. He modeled the main character after himself, and told complicated soap opera-like stories involving a variety of potato characters.

early Hot Spud concept
Rip's dinner shows became more, and more popular over the course of the war, so much in fact, several strategic missions were almost compromised due to tardiness of some troops.

When Rip's tour of duty was served he returned home to Washington DC, with a glimmer in his eye, and hope in his heart for his "Hot Spud" idea. He contacted several companies to market it. The invention was controversial due to the improper use of food (rationing was still a mind set back then) and the large ceramic penis the concept was packaged with. Rip was discouraged with the constant rejection of his idea, saying it was offensive, and inappropriate. In 1952, he recalls, gave up on "Hot Spud" and went to pursue his love for entertaining.



In the early 1960's while sitting down to watch "The Ed Sullivan Show" Rip Taylor recalls seeing this commercial for the first time.



Shocked to learn childhood friend George Lerner took his idea during that Christmas dinner in 1949, and sold it to then school supply company HASBRO for $5000.00! Rip was shocked, as he watched his dream in glorious black and white come to life, and being sold to millions of homes world wide.

He later moved on to create some of the most important innovations in human kind, later forgiving George for stealing his idea. Rip still fondly recalls his early memories for "Hot Spud" and his dream to mass produce millions of adult-themed potato toys, but since that fateful day watching TV he's never really looked back.

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