Candy Land is an enjoyable simple racing board game designed by Hasbro. The game only requires minimal counting and no mathematical skills, which makes it highly appropriate for young children as well. The game is simple to understand and play, and no strategy is required either.
In 1950, a little boy from San Diego named Richard Hunt developed what is known as the Candy Land game. The original patent for the concept was filed by Hunt and his associate Henry T. Hunt. The patent was eventually issued to Hunt and his associate Frank J. Haynes in 1949. The patent described several games that had previously been patented by Hunt. One of these games was called Candy Land and was played on an ordinary playing field with a track of circular bumps along the edge, and a series of candy pieces placed on each bump.
Another version of Candy Land involves inserting a slice of bread into an opening in the center of the piece of land. Players then take turns attempting to roll the bread through the opening by rolling the slipper over the bump. The first player to do this wins. This was the inspiration for the game name of Candy Land.
Although the mechanics of the game of Candy Land are similar to many other types of simple board games, one similarity it does have is that it was created in response to a real medical problem that was occurring in San Diego at the time. Children were being poisoned by eating food laced with salmonella, a bacteria that can cause severe stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea. It was because of this concern that the game was created. It was also in this same period that the US Public Health Service (PHS) was secretly testing several vaccines and other compounds in an effort to stop people from getting sick with small pox.
Despite being fictional, Candy Land did introduce some facts about the threat of poliovirus and other viruses to children, especially those who participated in its themed events. For example, the game’s winner is the one who gets to fling their opponents away through a giant gumdrop mountain. One version of this board game has the participants chasing after a “molasses swamp”. In another variation, players get to “eat” their opponents. And finally, a variation called Candy Land: Gumball Surprise Panic Attack actually allows participants to eat their opponents!
While many of the events of Candy Land are comical, there were some real-life threats to the health of children during the period it was being produced. As a result, the makers of this board game went to great lengths to make sure that none of the characters harmed anyone. The production featured characters like the “zappers” who zapped anyone who got in their way. There were also security guards whose duty it was to burn anyone who did not follow the required guidelines. There were even guards whose only job was to prevent stray candy from reaching children who were allergic to it.
While all the elements of Candy Land are funny, it does have some serious educational value as well. At the beginning of each episode, the kids get a lesson about how important it is to keep moving. They learn that if they do not, someone could get hurt. For example, one of the characters, Grandma Pearl, often says, “Don’t let your breath fall asleep…you could never live through it!” The same message is featured in the second episode, where Grandma Pearl says, “And don’t let your mind wander…you could take everything with you!” All episodes contain messages about moving forward with excitement, especially as parents and teachers, who are responsible for kids’ well-being, have a duty to ensure that children stay healthy by teaching them the importance of moving forward, despite obstacles.
A quick trip down the Candy Land timeline shows us that Lord licorice was the chief villain. His power over candy land was so strong that he was only defeated by two sweet looking fairy girls, one of whom managed to steal his power. Inevitably, candy land became his domain once again, and the evil wizard locked himself in his crystal castle. A new, hopefully powerful, princess was sent to prevent him from hurting the children any longer, and she did just that. At the end, we see that Lord licorice has been dispatched into the world of fantasy by his fellow elves, who now rule the Land of Pawns, and the episode ends with the all time favourite musical number, “Pawns and Candy Land” as well as the series logo.
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