Jews of the Week: George Lerner & The Hassenfeld Brothers

22 Feb

All Your Favourite Toys!

Mr. Potato Head - one of the most succesful toys of all time!

Having written recently of the world’s largest toy company, Mattel, it would be unfair not to mention the second-largest company, Hasbro. This toy giant was founded as a tiny textile company in 1923 by Polish-Jewish immigrants Henry and Helal Hassenfeld. Over time, they shifted their business towards pencil cases and school supplies, and later to children’s toys. Meanwhile, a fellow Jew (of Romanian descent, born in Brooklyn) named George Lerner invented Mr. Potato Head. In 1952, the Hassenfeld brothers bought the rights to the toy, quickly putting their company on the map. In fact, Mr. Potato Head was the first toy to be advertised on television! But the true big day came in 1964 when the brothers came up with G.I. Joe, thus launching the era of the now-famous “action figure”. Shortening the company name to Hasbro (a contraction of Hassenfeld Brothers), they continued growing tremendously, creating toys for Star Wars and Sesame Street, and later for Transformers, Batman and Pokemon. Favourites such as Play-Doh, Tonka, My Little Pony, and even Parker Brothers board games like Monopoly, are all created by Hasbro. True to Judaism, the company has become well-known for its charity work, setting up the Hasbro Children’s Foundation and the Hasbro Charitable Trust. They also built and continue to finance the Hassenfeld Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, considered one of the top children’s institutions in the world!

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Words of the Week

“The responsible nuclear Iran. Wait. We’re supposed to believe that a revolutionary Shiite theocracy is overnight going to become a sober, calculating disciple of the realist school of diplomacy … because it has finally acquired weapons of mass destruction? Presumably this would be in the same way that, if German scientists had developed an atomic bomb as quickly as the Manhattan Project, the Second World War would have ended with a negotiated settlement brokered by the League of Nations.”
- Niall Ferguson

 

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