Wednesday, June 12, 2013

childhood obsessions: Candyland.

Surprise surprise, here’s another story about something I was obsessed with when I was a kid. This time, we’re talking Candyland.

I am indeed referring to the board game. Candyland is the first board game I can remember playing (if you don’t count Mickey Mouse Yahtzee and animal dominoes). For those of you who have no experience with Candyland, first of all, you don’t know what you’ve been missing. Second of all, allow me to explain the game.

Here's a board for reference. You can thank me later.
The object of Candyland is to be the first one to make it through the mythical world called (bet you didn’t see this coming) Candyland. Your goal is to beat all your friends to the end of the road: the King’s Candy Castle. Of course, there’s a cheesy back story to go with it: evil Lord Licorice somehow hid King Kandy and his Candy Castle, and now all of Candyland is sad.
What a dick.
So it's up to YOU to find the castle and make Candyland all happy and sugary again!

Of course, there are a number of obstacles between you and the Candy Castle. You could have the misfortune of getting lost in the Lollipop Woods, stuck in the Molasses Swamp, or tangled in the Gooey Gumdrops. If that should happen, you must languish there until you draw a card of the corresponding color to the area where you got stuck.

But how do you get from place to place in Candyland? Pure luck. The Candyland road is made up of little colorful squares, and you advance by drawing a card out of the pile. Each card has either a single colored square, a double colored square, or a little character card. If you draw a red card, you simply advance to the next red square. If you draw a double red card, you get to advance TWO red squares ahead.

(Fun fact: as I was tracking down pictures for this story, I came across a mathematical analysis of Candyland. Turns out that you can win in just four turns if you draw correctly: Queen Frostine, double purple, double purple, and purple. The things you can learn on the internet!)

The character cards can be a blessing or a curse. There are six special little Candyland characters, and they appear in this order on the board: Plumpy, Mr Mint, Jolly, Grandma Nutt, Princess Lolly, and Queen Frostine. So let’s say you’re just getting started in the game and you draw the Queen Frostine card. Score, right? She’s almost at the end! However, there’s always the danger that you can be two squares away from winning the game, and one wrong draw can send you back to the sugar plum gardens at the very beginning.
I wish I could tell you how much time I spent playing Candyland as a kid. The playing pieces were shaped like little gingerbread men, and I was always the red one. 
So cute!
I desperately hoped I’d get the Queen Frostine card on the first go. Being the good sport that I was, I would pout if someone else got Queen Frostine. Princess Lolly was ok in my book, but Queen Frostine was far and above my favorite Candyland character. 
Plus, she had ice cream.
I would actually carry the Queen Frostine card around with me – forgive me for stating the obvious, but I was the WEIRDEST kid. That card got pretty banged up, so it was usually pretty easy for me to pick it out of the pile of other cards – those remained clean, as they hadn’t been dragged around in my grubby little hands.

Much to my parents’ great happiness (as they were sick of playing Candyland with me), I eventually outgrew Candyland and Queen Frostine. I moved onto bigger and better games – games that did actually require a bit of skill. (Like Scattergories! But that’s a story for another time.) I outgrew, yes, but I didn’t forget. Several years ago, Mom decided to decorate the upstairs game room with board games: she was going to glue the pieces to the games and nail them to the walls. Mom found most of the games at garage sales, but she asked if she could use my old game for her project. I told her that she certainly could, but jokingly said that she might have to get me a new one. Guess who got Candyland for Christmas that year?

It’s been years since I’ve played Candyland, but my copy of the game is sitting in the cupboard. Maybe I need to play it just for old times’ sake. It probably won’t be quite as thrilling as it was when I was five, but it will certainly stir up some good memories. And maybe this time, I’ll try not to be such a sore loser if someone else gets the Queen Frostine card. No guarantees, though.

No comments:

Post a Comment