The Cultural Evolution of Candy Land

The Cultural Evolution of Candy Land April 2, 2012

My son Graeme, who’s almost 4, is very into Candy Land lately. He’ll play it all by himself, or with his brother, or with me, and he cheats a lot, but whatever; he’s so cute.

Anyway, they were given this new set (dated 2010, Made in China) and I remembered I still had my old Candy Land put away somewhere (dated 1984, Made in USA) and so I pulled them out for a comparison, and was really surprised by what I found.

1984 on the left; 2010 on the right.

2010’s game is so much BUSIER and full of candy than 1984’s. In fact, I find 2010 a bit overwhelming visually, whereas 1984’s seems like a relaxed stroll through villages with distinct characteristics. But okay.

Here’s where things are notably different, right at the beginning–the kids:



Okay, so obviously we’ve had diversity training, but look what else! 1984’s kids are pleasantly rounded, 2010’s kids have clearly taken “Let’s Move!” to heart. Amazing, considering that both the fruits and the nuts of the 1984 game board are a thing of the past, and there’s like 250% more candy portrayed on the 2010 board.

Plumpy (PLUMS! FRUIT! 5-a-day!) has no 2010 counterpart.

Likewise, the Grandma of 1984 had a peanut plantation in her front yard (granted, she turned them into peanut brittle for her siding, but work with me here) whilst Grandma 2010 makes fudge (and she has lost weight):

Grandma 1984
Grandma 2010

Friendly Mr. Candy Cane is gone, replaced by a reminder that men, too, have an idealized muscular form to which they should aspire:

2010. Note how his ice-cream is twice the size of his not insubstantial head.

Even the King has had to slim down:

King, 1984
King, 2010

As have the game pieces:

any guesses which pieces are from 1984, and which from 2010?

The Lollipop Lady has gone from Shirley Temple-esque to otherworldly and waifish:

2010 (look how much longer and thinner she is!)

But the pièce de résistance has to be Frostine, who has been demoted from Queen (1984) to Princess (2010), and has been majorly slimmed down and sexed up in the meantime:


So let’s get this right: portions are doubled, there’s no more fruit or nuts, and yet everyone and everything–even the game pieces!–is/are much, much thinner, while the number of actual Americans who are obese has at least quadrupled since 1984?

Good thing I’m still working on my book revisions. I’m going to have to add a whole chapter on the cultural history of Candy Land.  

(or at least talk about it in my book.)

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