Victory Never Tasted So Sweet: A Candy Land Retrospective

I still plan to live here some day.

I still plan to live here some day.

I’ve been talking about board games a lot lately but I’ve been too caught up with the serious world of competition to remember some of the most classic and wonderful games of our youth (or in some cases our present if that’s how you roll). Two words for you here: Candy and Land. Put those together and you have Candy Land, a game that requires no skill but demands you enjoy it and when the game revolves around a land made of sugary treats, how can I say no?

A Sweeter Time

The world before 1940 was a dark and gloomy place. Everyone was depressed and there was probably a war going on at some point around there. But this didn’t stop Eleanor Abbott from deciding she needed to make a game wherein players race to save the King of a Candy Land. How did she find time to create this game? She was recovering from polio. Pretty sure this one selfless act brought us out of the Great Depression, (of maybe another war of some kind, I can’t be expected to keep all these facts straight).

By 1949 Milton Bradley bought Candy Land and began distributing it to kids all over the nation, only wanting in return a smile, dedication to candy, and money.

If Candy Land doesn’t seem that big to you anymore, keep in mind that it was the most popular toy during the 1940-1949 decade. That’s pretty big, let me tell you. It defined the decade’s toy purchases. What’s the second biggest toy from then? Don’t know, don’t care, it isn’t Candy Land.

So Simple an Adult Could Play It

Based off visions of sugerplums dancing in heads.

Based off visions of sugarplums dancing in heads.

The gameplay is pretty simple here. Players choose a piece and place it at the start of the gameboard, then draw cards from a pile. Each card has one of six colors on it corresponding to a square on the board, of which there are 134. The player moves his piece to the closest square matching the card and the next player draws.

Sound simple? Well yes, unless you’re colorblind. You want to make it tougher and you add a hint of danger to the game, like a timer that signifies the end of Candy Land should no one save the king in time or force kids to read the color on the card with their eyes closed. With a few simple changes, Candy Land can turn into something far more exciting. Also add snakes.

This is how Candy Land was played in my home.

This is how Candy Land was played in my home.

Some Delicious Notes

Keep in mind that there are two sets of rules in play. There are rules from the pre-2004 edition and rules from the post-2004 edition (apparently 2004 was a big turning point for the citizens of Candy Land). Some cards force players to move backward, though players decide before starting whether they’re going to follow this rule or not (as with most games).

Also, the final space used to just be the end and it was implied that you had to draw the same color card as the last square to win the game, though all editions past 2004 have a rainbow space, putting an end to this debate once and for all. I recommend that the player be forced to collect one of each color before winning the game, unless I’m playing and about to win in which case any single color is acceptable.

You won’t find a whole lot of variations of Candy Land out there, though there are a few such as Winnie the Pooh and Dora the Explorer. Actually that’s it for variations on the game. Who needs more though? As long as there is candy and a land in which this candy exists, you’re set.

I’ll leave you with a few random tidbits about the game. First, there used to be a section of the board called “Molasses Swamp” that has since been changed to “Chocolate Swamp,” most likely because children don’t eat molasses anymore. Also, the game is an example of a Markov Chain, a mathematical random process wherein all information about the future is contained in the present. Confused? Well then maybe Candy Land isn’t a child’s game after all.


About Author

Chris was the former Head Writer/Editor of Toy-TMA. He did a great job overseeing the site and getting new content published regularly. Always more than willing to respond to a comment or two, but pitiless with trolls! He has since moved on from TMA, and we wish him the best.

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