Thursday, August 1, 2019

Guess what's 70 years old this year

Remember the children's board game called Candy Land? It was invented 70 years ago by a school teacher from San Diego, California, named Eleanor Abbott. In the 1940s, many children suffered from a much-feared disease called polio. In 1948, when she was in her late 30s, Abbott contracted the disease, and recovered in a hospital polio ward which was filled with children. She saw them suffer from boredom and separation from loved ones, sometimes for months at a time. So she invented a game to help them pass the hours. Her game spoke to their desire to move freely in pursuit of delights.

Candy Land gathered children in polio wards into groups, while filling time and keeping their attention. But it was more than a quarantine tool. It's theme is joy of movement, and children in polio wards loved the game because, unlike physical therapy, they could move freely on the board. (Abbott's first board even included a boy wearing a leg brace.) Today polio is a distant memory, and children abandon Candy Land to seek more challenging games. And that's the game's secret. It was designed to be outgrown. But even today,  believe it or not, about 97% of mothers are familiar with Candy Land, and more than 60% of households with a five-year-old own the game.

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