Most people have played the game, Candy Land, but I would wager that few people know much about its origins. As a matter of fact, I wonder if other games had reasons for their creation that are vastly different than what anyone would expect. Candy Land (also known as Candyland) is a simple racing board game created by Eleanor Abbott and published by Milton Bradley in 1948. The game is suitable for young children, because it requires no reading and minimal counting skills. It also doesn’t require any strategy skills, because players are never required to make choices…simply following directions is all that is required. It seems that the game has never lost its appeal, because about one million copies are sold each year.

For most adults, the game loses its appeal pretty early on, and we all assume that it’s because it is a game that is designed for kids. We figure that once we get a little older, we simply move on to more complicated games to find any interest in them at all. And maybe that is true, but even that idea doesn’t touch on the real “idea” behind the game.

The truth is that when she invented the game, Eleanor Abbott was recovering from polio in San Diego, California. She began to think of things that she and other recovering polio victims could do in their limited capacity. So, the game was made for and tested by the children in the same wards on the hospital. It was supposed to be a sort of occupational therapy game, but when they played it, the children suggested that Abbott submit the game to Milton Bradley Company. They knew that they enjoyed it, and thought all children would, not just those who had been ill with polio. Apparently, Milton Bradley agreed, because the bought it and first published it in 1949. It was intended to be a temporary fill-in for their, then main product line, school supplies. Surprisingly, Candy Land became Milton Bradley’s best-selling game, surpassing its previous top seller, Uncle Wiggily. It put Milton Bradley in the same league as its main competitor, Parker Brothers. It is said that the original art was designed by Abbott, but this is uncertain. The original purpose of the game was to give kids stuck in polio wards a way to vicariously move freely in the pursuit of delights. The original board featured a boy in a leg brace about to walk through starting gate of the game. Interesting!!

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