DANSVILLE — There was a lot of excitement over revisiting childhood favorites at the Dansville Area Historical Society Annual Dinner.
On Oct. 27 the society’s program was “Amazingly Fun: The Classic Toys in the National Toy Hall of Fame” by Strong Museum of Play.
Christopher Bensch, Strong Museum of Play chief curator, brought some of the best of the best including the latest inducted in the National Hall of Fame: Clue.
“I brought along some of my favorites in the hall of fame to share with you,” he said. “Last year we inducted the game Clue, which has been a finalist for years. This is a game originally from England.”
Among the board game Clue there are 64 others that are honored on that list. Some of these toys go back 1,000s of years, and others a few hundred years old. For instance marbles are 1,000s of years old, and Jack-in-the-Box is 500 years old.
Bensch talked about the history of some of these games at the event.
“Jack-in-the-Box was always perfect for the toddlers, who are at a certain age that they like rituals. They love to do the same thing over and over again. They play that Pop Goes the Weasel tune, and know that the clown is going to pop out. Over the years other figures have been in the box like Peyton Manning, George W. Bush, and cartoons.”
Monopoly got its start from a woman named Elizabeth Phillips, which was a greedy landlord game. It was meant to bring humor to the distraught renters who had to pay a greedy landlord all their money, lose all their property, and it never ended. This idea was stolen by a man who really liked the idea of a financial game that left the family bankrupt. The Great Depression Era made a lot of money on this game with the Parker Brothers in the 1930s.
Candy Land was created by a woman who suffered from Polio, and wanted a nice easy game to entertain the family after World War Two. This too has been deemed the game that never ends, so its latest inventor made a rainbow ending.
Bensch talked about how the beloved party game, Twister, almost didn’t make it. This game was considered too sexual in its day, and it wasn’t until a fancy talk show host played it with a sexy actress that it sold out everywhere.
“Imagination toys are always popular,” Bensch said. “The stick actually got into the hall of fame as one of the favorite imagination toys, since it can be anything. Etch and Sketch was created by a French Inventor. The Easy Bake Oven takes a really long time, but everyone enjoys eating their creations. For kids it meant that they could manage their own ovens.”
Of course there is also Mr Potato Head, The Slinky, Play Doh, Super Soaker, Raggedy Ann, and the Teddy Bear.
Believe it or not Barbie is 60-years-old and originated from Germany as an adult toy, Bensch said. She was based on a German cartoon called Bild Lilli. She was a gold digger who wanted men to keep her in furs and expensive jewelry. They would sell these to adult males in the tobacco shops.
She eventually made her way to America, where she became a children’s toy that helped them understand what it was like to be a grown up. She was actually the model for G.I. Joe which was a favorite boys toy.
These are some of the fun facts about some of your childhood toys, and if you would like your favorite toy to be in the National Hall of Fame they work on that this month. Go to Strong Museum of Play and see the hundreds of toys, and send in letters to get your toy on the list. Visit their website for more information http://www.museumofplay.org/ and stop in at One Manhattan Square in Rochester. Hours are Monday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 pm. And Sunday noon to 5 p.m.