7 Facts About Hungry Hungry Hippos

Hasbro via Amazon
Hasbro via Amazon

For more than 40 years, young tabletop game enthusiasts have engaged in spirited competition involving four plastic hippos and their insatiable appetite for marbles. In Hungry Hungry Hippos, players hover over a proving ground full of 20 plastic balls. Using a lever, they open and close the mouths of the hippos until the marbles are gone. The hippo with the most marbles at the end is the winner. The Hasbro game is a lesson in hand-eye coordination, tolerance for a lot of racket, and an exercise in the benefits of gluttony. Check out a few things you might not know about this enduring favorite.

1. Hungry Hungry Hippos was brought to the U.S. by a World War II veteran.

As a boy, Fred Kroll knew he wanted to be in the toy business. His father manufactured cardboard games that Kroll would peddle in and around New York City. After a stint in the U.S. Army during World War II, Kroll went to work as a salesman for the Pressman Toy Corporation. He later discovered Hungry Hungry Hippos in Japan. Kroll licensed the international rights to the game from the Agatsuma company in Tokyo. It became a huge seller. After selling those rights to Hasbro, Kroll—who died in 2003—maintained that the game’s royalties were enough to live on.

2. The hippos in Hungry Hungry Hippos had names.

When Hungry Hungry Hippos debuted under the Milton Bradley label in 1978, each of the four marble-gobbling hippos had names. Lizzie Hippo was the purple one; the orange one was Henry Hippo; Home Hippo was green; and Harry Hippo was yellow. Later versions changed the colors, the names, or both.

3. There’s a kid-sized version of Hungry Hungry Hippos.

In 2018, child vehicle brand Kid Trax partnered with Hasbro to launch a series of foot-powered ride-ons named the Hungry Hungry Hippos 3-in-1 Activity Rider. The cars are shaped like the hippos, with the mouths moving up and down just like the game to allow kids to “eat” the included balls. While this sounds like a fun time for anyone, the vehicles are only suitable for kids ages 3 and under.

4. There’s also a human version of Hungry Hungry Hippos.

Some communities have taken to ice rinks to play a modified version of Hungry Hungry Hippos by propelling humans around the surface. Using baskets, they try to “eat” as many balls as possible. The Grand Rapids Snow Days in Grand Rapids, Michigan hosted an event in 2017. A version is also promoted at the DC Wharf Ice Rink in Washington, D.C.

5. There’s a Guinness World Record for completing Hungry Hungry Hippos.

In 2018, Manchester United soccer player Axel Tuanzebe set the Guinness World Record for the fastest game of Hungry Hungry Hippos ever completed. Tuanzebe gobbled up all 20 marbles in an official time of 17.37 seconds.

6. There’s a Hungry Hungry Hippos world championship.

For players with exceptional hippo prowess, the Gen Con tabletop gaming convention in Indiana hosts a showdown for bragging rights. The Hungry Hungry Hippos World Championship has been held annually since 2015 and invites players aged 6 and over to compete. In 2016, more than 100 players vied for the title of hungriest hippo. The winner received a hippo mounted on a plaque.

7. Hungry Hungry Hippos might be a movie. Someday.

In 2012, Hasbro announced that the Emmett/Furla production company had entered into an agreement to produce feature films versions of several notable Hasbro properties, including Monopoly, a British toy line called Action Man, and Hungry Hungry Hippos. Presumably a giant-animal-on-a-rampage scenario, the film has yet to enter production.

10 Splendid Gifts for Royal Family Fanatics

Funko/Amazon
Funko/Amazon

Between the never-ending publicity surrounding Meghan Markle and the long-awaited third season of The Crown on Netflix, Americans seem to be tuning into the intimate goings-on of England’s most famous family now more than ever. From corgi-covered socks to a Kate Middleton fashion coloring book, here are 10 brilliant products to help you showcase your passion for all things royal.

1. Royal Windsor Monopoly; $56

windsor castle monopoly
Winning Moves Games/Amazon

Forget Baltic Avenue and Marvin Gardens—take your tiny top hat on a tour of the Windsor grounds, from St. George’s Chapel to Eton College. This edition of Elizabeth Magie’s classic board game still has many opportunities for taxes, bankruptcy, and jail, but with an undeniable air of sophistication.

Buy It: Amazon

2. Corgi Socks; $7

corgi socks
Hot Sox

Celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s long-standing love for corgis by sporting some of the smiling puppers on your very own two feet.

Buy It: Amazon

3. Princess Diana Funko POP! Doll; $9

princess diana funko pop doll
Funko/Amazon

While you’re waiting to see Emma Corrin portray Princess Diana in season four of The Crown, treat your toy shelf to a Funko Diana doll, clad in her iconic black gown. There are more royal Funkos, too, like Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Harry, and Kate Middleton.

Buy It: Amazon

4. Twinings Earl Grey Tea; $9

twinings earl grey tea
Twinings/Amazon

Twinings has been the official tea supplier of the Royal Household since the 19th century, and according to former royal chef Darren McGrady, the Queen likes Earl Grey the best. If you really want to mirror the monarch’s preferences, add a splash of milk—but skip the sugar.

Buy It: Amazon

5. Royally British Mug; $16

royally british mug
Victoria Eggs/Amazon

What better way to sip the Queen’s favorite tea than from a teacup bearing symbols of her kingdom? Not only is this 12-ounce bone china mug hand-illustrated with Balmoral Castle, Windsor Castle, and Buckingham Palace, it also features all of the UK’s national flowers: England’s rose, Wales’s daffodil, Scotland’s thistle, and Northern Ireland’s shamrock.

Buy It: Amazon

6. Kate Middleton Royal Fashions Coloring Book; $4

kate middleton fashion coloring book
E.R. Miller Designs

Kate Middleton manages to stick to the many royal family fashion rules while still stepping out in some impressively voguish ensembles. Add your own polychromatic flair to her most memorable looks in this coloring book, with special appearances by Prince William and more.

Buy It: Amazon

7. How to Speak Brit; $16

how to speak brit book
Avery/Amazon

Though the royal family doesn’t likely deign to speak the slang of the masses, How to Speak Brit also contains plenty of posh phrases, along with explanations of how they came to be. This dictionary-slash-cultural-study is handy for anyone who watches Downton Abbey, The Great British Bake Off, or any other British television series or film.

Buy It: Amazon

8. LEGO Buckingham Palace Set; $72

lego buckingham palace set
LEGO/Amazon

This 780-piece buildable version of Queen Elizabeth II’s primary residence includes a double-decker bus, black cab, and the Victoria Memorial. It also comes with a booklet on the design, architecture, and history of Buckingham Palace.

Buy It: Amazon

9. Royal Carriage Jewelry Box; $17

qifu royal carriage jewelry box
Qifu/Amazon

We can’t all roll up to special events in a gold-embellished stagecoach, but we can store our jewelry in one. The Fabergé egg-inspired design of this carriage makes it a perfect mantelpiece decoration, too.

Buy It: Amazon

10. Buckingham Palace Jigsaw Puzzle; $30

buckingham palace jigsaw puzzle
Gibsons/Amazon

This 1000-piece puzzle depicts the scene at Buckingham Palace during the Queen’s birthday celebration. In the image, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are trotting off to Horse Guard's Parade for Trooping the Colour, the Queen’s annual inspection of the military.

Buy It: Amazon

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