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Twister (Milton Bradley, 1960s)

In 1964, toy inventor Reyn Guyer with the help of Charles Foley and Neil Rabens, created Pretzel. They were intending to promote shoe polish with the aid of this game. They took the idea to Milton Bradley who saw the potential, but they weren’t sold on the name. After much speculation, Milton Bradley took a General Tire printer (General Tire manufactured shower curtains) to print large color spots onto a shower curtain. Since Pretzel was not available to use, they changed the name to Twister and hit the marketplace in 1966.

Sales were slow at first because people didn’t understand how to play this game. Milton Bradley asked Johnny Carson to test market the game for them on The Tonight Show. Before this happened, Sears has decided to back out of selling this “risque” game but Milton Bradley wasn’t able to let The Tonight Show staff know beforehand to cancel the demonstration and Carson with guest Eva Gabor went ahead anyway. The next day, there was only one store in New York City carrying Twister and they sold out. Milton Bradley was forced to make more. In 1967, Milton Bradley sold more than three million games.

Twister is a game anyone can play (as long as you know your colors). It can be played by anyone in any socio-economic bracket and is easily understandable by all cultures. The original game remains inexpensive and if you really need to, it’s very simple to make your own board. There are even versions for the color blind and legally blind to play. Twister was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2015.