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Cootie game (W.H. Schaper Mfg. Co. Inc., 1949)

Created by William Schaper in 1948, Cootie is a children’s game for 2 to 4 players. The object is to be the first to build a three-dimensional cootie bug from a variety of plastic pieces. The acquisition of body parts is determined by the roll of a die. The first part you must acquire is the body, then the head. After that, you can acquire the remaining pieces in any order.

Schaper was a postman who had a sideline of manufacturing popcorn machines. After he created the Cootie game, he set up a manufacturing company and began selling units at a local department store called Dayton’s in Minneapolis. By the end of 1950 he had sold over 1.2 million games! After that, variations began to appear. (Schaper’s company also sold the games Ants in the Pants, Don’t Spill the Beans and Don’t Break the Ice.)

Tyco Toys bought Schaper’s company in 1973. In 1986, Hasbro arranged to purchase Cootie. In 2003, the Toy Industry Association named Cootie to its “Century of Toys List.”