6 Cheesy Facts About Mouse Trap

Target
Target

For nearly 50 years, kids and adults have been constructing elaborate scenarios in Mouse Trap, the board game that makes pest control a family affair. Using plastic pieces, players build a series of perils for the mouse-shaped game tokens, hoping to eventually ensnare rival mice in their trap. For more on the origins of the game, including why Rube Goldberg may have gotten stiffed, keep reading.

1. Mouse Trap was inspired by Rube Goldberg.

When someone mentions a “Rube Goldberg device,” they’re usually referring to a design that pays homage to cartoonist Rube Goldberg, who published a series of clever contraptions in daily newspapers as commentary on the increasingly—and needlessly—complex modern world. When toy design firm owner Marvin Glass wanted to create a three-dimensional board game inspired by Goldberg that could be built vertically, he turned to employees Gordon Barlow and Burt Meyer. The two conceived the Mouse Trap concept and had it ready for the 1963 Toy Fair.

2. Mouse Trap was rejected by Milton Bradley for being “junk.”

Target

A board game that dispensed with conventional play methods like rolling dice or board squares was a radical departure for the toy industry of the 1960s, and not everyone was on board. When Marvin Glass and Burt Meyer took the game to Milton Bradley to see if the popular board game company might be interested, they were surprised at the reaction. The president of Milton Bradley, James Shea Sr., thought it was an awful idea. “This is not a game, this is nothing,” he said. “A game, you play it on a board and you roll dice, but this, this is a lot of plastic junk. We can’t use this.” Parker Brothers also turned them down. But Glass had the last laugh. The game, released by Ideal, wound up selling 1.2 million copies in 1963 alone.

3. Rube Goldberg never saw a dime from Mouse Trap.

Despite its Goldberg-esque design, the cartoonist was never directly involved in Mouse Trap. His syndicate, King Features, asked Glass for a royalty on the game but Glass refused. Goldberg himself was 80 and about to retire, and apparently the prospect of a legal fight was unappealing. Instead, he licensed his name for a series of playsets produced by Multiple Products, Inc. that paid homage to his work. Glass, meanwhile, offered the Crazy Clock and Fish Bait games in quick succession, which were also knock-offs of Goldberg’s work. None of it was as popular as Mouse Trap.

4. Someone once built a life-size Mouse Trap.

Mouse Trap fan and San Francisco-based general contractor Mark Perez thought Mouse Trap did an excellent job of demonstrating various facets of physics, from the kinetic energy of the game’s spring and cable-powered hammer hitting a boot to the incline plane of the staircase. In 2005, he created a full-size model of the game’s various pieces, a set-up weighing 25 tons that he went on tour with to explain the science behind the design. At the Henry Ford Museum in 2012, the contraption finished its sequence by crushing a car. As of 2018, the attraction was still touring.

5. The UK version of Mouse Trap comes with a toilet.

Not many board games invite players to flush a toilet to advance, but the UK version of Mouse Trap is an exception. Among the playing pieces (baskets, a bathtub, fulcrums) is a plastic toilet that can be utilized to keep the momentum of the game rolling.

6. You might be able to use Mouse Trap to catch an actual mouse.

But only a very, very patient one. YouTuber Shawn Woods posted a video of his Mouse Trap display that works just like the classic version of the game, except it adds a conventional snap trap at the beginning and end of the course. When the design finishes its machinations, a trap door closes on the wayward rodent. Woods used his own mouse as the test subject, but not to worry—it’s humane and harmless.

Mental Floss's Three-Day Sale Includes Deals on Apple AirPods, Sony Wireless Headphones, and More

Apple
Apple

During this weekend's three-day sale on the Mental Floss Shop, you'll find deep discounts on products like AirPods, Martha Stewart’s bestselling pressure cooker, and more. Check out the best deals below.

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Apple

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Sony

For the listener who likes a traditional over-the-ear headphone, this set by Sony will give you all the same hands-free calling, extended battery power, and Bluetooth connectivity as their tiny earbud counterparts. They have a swivel folding design to make stashing them easy, a built-in microphone for voice commands and calls, and quality 1.18-inch dome drivers for dynamic sound quality.

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3. Sony Xb650bt Wireless On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones; $46

Sony

This Sony headphone model stands out for its extra bass and the 30 hours of battery life you get with each charge. And in between your favorite tracks, you can take hands-free calls and go seamlessly back into the music.

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Martha Stewart

If you’re thinking of taking the plunge and buying a new pressure cooker, this 8-quart model from Martha Stewart comes with 14 presets, a wire rack, a spoon, and a rice measuring cup to make delicious dinners using just one appliance.

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Jashen

If you're obsessive about cleanliness, it's time to lose the vacuum cord and opt for this untethered model from JASHEN. Touting a 4.3-star rating from Amazon, the JASHEN cordless vacuum features a brushless motor with strong suction, noise optimization, and a convenient wall mount for charging and storage.

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Evachill

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Gourmia

The perfect cup of cold brew can take up to 12 hours to prepare, but this Gourmia Cold Brew Coffee Maker can do the job in just a couple of minutes. It has a strong suction that speeds up brew time while preserving flavor in up to five cups of delicious cold brew at a time.

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Townew

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FenSens

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Noerden

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Prices subject to change.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. If you haven't received your voucher or have a question about your order, contact the Mental Floss shop here.

14 Facts About International Talk Like A Pirate Day

iStock
iStock

Ahoy, me hearties! As many of you know, September 19 is International Talk Like A Pirate Day, an annual phenomenon that’s taken the world by storm, having been observed by every continent, the International Space Station, and even the Oval Office since it first made headlines back in 2002. So let’s hoist the Jolly Roger, break out the rum, and take a look back at the holiday’s timber-shivering history.

1. Talk Like a Pirate Day was originally conceived of on D-Day.

Talk Like a Pirate Day creators John Baur and Mark Summer (who’ve since acquired the nicknames “Ol’ Chumbucket” and “Cap’n Slappy,” respectively) created the holiday while playing racquetball on June 6, 1995—the 51st anniversary of the invasion of Normandy. Out of respect to the battle’s veterans, a new observance date was quickly sought.

2. September 19th also happens to be the birthday of the ex-wife of the holiday's co-creator.

“[September 19th was] the only date we could readily recall that wasn’t already taken up with Christmas or the Super Bowl or something,” the pair later claimed. Summers claims to harbor no ill will toward his former spouse, who has since stated, “I’ve never been prouder to be his ex-wife!

3. Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry is largely responsible for popularizing the holiday.

Dave Barry was so smitten with the holiday after having been introduced to it via email in early 2002 that he dedicated an entire column to its publicity that September, turning an inside joke into a global sensation. He later went on to make a cameo appearance in one of Baur and Summers’s buccaneer-themed music videos in 2011 (look for him in the video above at the 3:25 mark).

4. Real pirates spoke in a wide variety of dialects.

Despite some extensive “English-to-Pirate” dictionaries that have cropped up all over the Internet the idea that all pirates shared a common accent regardless of national origin is historically absurd, as National Geographic pointed out in 2011.

5. Actor Robert Newton is hailed as the "patron saint" of Talk Like a Pirate Day.

So where did the modern “pirate dialect” come from? Summers and Baur credit actor Robert Newton's performance in Treasure Island (1950) and have accordingly dubbed him the “patron saint” of their holiday. Tasked with breathing life into the scheming buccaneer, Newton simply exaggerated his native West Country accent and the rest is history.

6. John Baur's family was featured on a pirate-themed episode of Wife Swap.

The reality show’s highly-anticipated 2006 season premiere pitted the Baurs (in full pillaging regalia) against a family which, according to John’s wife Tori (a.k.a. “Mad Sally”), “behaved as though ‘fun’ was something that had to be pre-packaged for their protection.”

7. John Baur was also on Jeopardy!

Baur was described to the audience as “a writer and pirate from Oregon” in his 2008 appearance. “I didn’t win,” Baur said, “but the introduction made Alex blink.”

8. International Talk Like a Pirate Day has become a cornerstone of the Pastafarian movement.

Bobby Henderson, founder of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, cited Earth’s dwindling pirate population as the clear source of global warming in his 2005 open letter to the Kansas school board which established the religion. Since then, Talk Like A Pirate Day has been observed by devout Pastafarians worldwide. 

9. A Florida mayor once ignited a local controversy for making an official Talk Like a Pirate Day proclamation.

In 2012, Lake Worth, Florida Mayor Pam Triolo lightheartedly urged her constituents to embrace the holiday last year, writing, “The City … is known to possess a spirit of independence, high spirits, and swashbuckling, all traits of a good pirate.” Her actions were criticized by the city’s former commissioner, Jo-Ann Golden, who took offense to the association with murderous seamen.

10. Day of the Ninja was created in response to Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Not to be outdone by their hated rivals, the pro-ninja community was quick to execute the first annual Day of the Ninja on December 5, 2002. For Summers and Baur’s take on the warring factions, see the clip above.

11. Astronauts once celebrated Talk Like a Pirate Day aboard the International Space Station.

In a 2012 interview, Summers recalled being “informed that the astronauts on the International Space Station were awakened to ‘A Pirate’s Life For Me' and joined in the pirate talk from space.”

12. President Obama once celebrated with a costumed buccaneer in the Oval Office.

In 2012, Barack Obama tweeted this image on Talk Like a Pirate Day with the caption “Arr you in?”

13. A congressman later used the holiday to slam President Obama's tax plan.

In 2011, Florida’s 12th congressional district representative Dennis Ross used the festivity as a political punchline after Obama made a speech detailing his tax plan, tweeting, “It is TALK like a pirate day … not ACT like one. Watch ye purses and bury yr loot, the taxman cometh.”

14. It's an official holiday in the state of Michigan.

On June 4, 2013, state senator Roger Kahn’s proposal to grant International Talk Like A Pirate Day official acknowledgement from the Michigan government was formally adopted, to the chagrin of some dissenting landlubbers. 

This story originally ran in 2013.