Easy to play and incredibly colorful, the Candy Land board game has been a household staple for 70 years. Players draw a card—or, in more recent editions, use a spinner—to advance on a board in pursuit of King Kandy, ruler of a delicious utopia with locations like Molasses Swamp and Gumdrop Mountain. The child-friendly gameplay has made it a perennial hit for Hasbro, which still sells 1 million copies of the game each year. For more on Candy Land, including its strange connection with the polio virus, keep reading.
1. Candy Land was invented in the polio wing of a hospital.
In the late 1940s, polio was still a looming threat to the population. While convalescing in the polio wing of a San Diego hospital in 1948, a retired schoolteacher named Eleanor Abbott decided to create a board game that could become a distraction for patients. The result was Candy Land, a fanciful and easy-to-understand diversion that saw players advancing game pieces through a sweetened landscape based on a color system—so no reading was required. The game proved to be so popular that Abbott decided to submit it to Milton Bradley (which was purchased by Hasbro in 1984). The company examined the layout, which Abbott had drawn on butcher paper, and decided to publish it in 1949.
2. Candy Land helped put Milton Bradley on the map.
Before Candy Land was released, Milton Bradley was still primarily known as a maker of school supplies. Their other big game acquisition, Clue, had just been released, but it had yet to fully take off. Candy Land distinguished itself because, unlike most board games, kids could play it by themselves—an important feature in a country still concerned with the spread of polio. As parents kept their children indoors, distractions like Candy Land became a way to keep them occupied. The game’s success leveled the playing field against game rival Parker Brothers, and the royalties it earned for Abbott paid off in another way: She reportedly donated most of her earnings from the game to be used for the purchase of supplies and equipment for area schools.
3. Candy Land didn’t get populated until 1984.
For decades, an anonymous boy and girl were the antagonists of Candy Land. In 1984, Hasbro contracted with Landmark Entertainment to create characters for the game, including King Kandy, Lord Licorice, and Princess Lolly of Lollypop Woods.
4. Candy Land was the subject of a trademark dispute involving an adult website.
In 1996, presumably with some consternation, Hasbro discovered that an adult website had registered the phrase "candy land" for its URL. In one of the first major domain name disputes, Hasbro argued that the website diluted the value of the board game. An injunction was granted in the U.S. District Court of Washington.
5. Candy Land carried a mistake on the board for years.
Notice anything unusual about the boy and girl setting off for their Candy Land adventure? They’re holding left hands, an awkward posture that would make skipping through the game difficult. The board’s updated artwork in 2010 added two more kids and eliminated this curious artistic choice.
6. Candy Land almost became a movie starring Adam Sandler.
In 2012, Adam Sander was announced as being the star of a Candy Land feature film. The hold-up? Landmark Entertainment, the company that created the characters for the game in 1984, argued that Hasbro had no right to enter into an agreement to license those characters out for a feature film; Hasbro contested the characters were part of a work-for-hire agreement. To date, the only adaptation of the game has been a 2005 direct-to-video animated feature, Candy Land: The Great Lollipop Adventure.
7. Candy Land came in an edible version.
Normally, the game pieces in Candy Land are not edible. In 2014, a company named Gamesformotion issued a Belgian chocolate version of the game that had chocolate cards wrapped in paper. Once they were played, they could be eaten. The company also released digestible versions of Battleship, Scrabble, and Monopoly. You can still find the edition for sale, but be warned: It's hard to play a second time once you've eaten most of the contents.