Today is “Grab Bag” day here at Entertainment Legends Revealed, where each time we feature a different area of the world of arts and entertainment (that is not featured in the other four categories of TV, music, comics and movies). Each time you will see grab bag legends from one of these following 25 “Grab Bag” categories (I might expand the list in the future, but for now, we’re sticking with these 25).
This is the third in a series of examinations of legends related to board games and whether they are true or false.
BOARD GAME LEGEND: Milton Bradley invented the paper cutter.
It is pretty weird that in three installments of Board Game Legends Revealed, TWO of them involve the life of Milton Bradley (here‘s the earlier one).
In any event, last time around, I told the tale of how Milton Bradley’s career as a lithographer was turned upside down by Abraham Lincoln growing a beard, which led Bradley to try out different enterprises, ending up with the creation of the board game The Checkered Game of Life.
However, Bradley is ALSO credited in many places with inventing the paper cutter (just tossing one recent one out there, in Samuel Greengard’s 2008 book, AARP Crash Course in Finding the Work You Love: The Essential Guide to Reinventing Your Life, he states declaratively “Bradley, who also invented the paper cutter”).
This is untrue.
It is basically a mixture between the standard “telephone game” approach to urban legends as well as the adage “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”
Bradley received a patent in 1881 for a one-armed paper cutter. That much is true. However, the patent was for an IMPROVEMENT on the paper cutter, which had existed in the modern form for nearly forty years at that point. Guillaume Massiquot developed the basic design of the modern paper cutter.
Here’s an 1878 advertisement for a paper cutter…
However, earlier versions of the device dated back even earlier to the 1820s…
So the little knowledge of Bradley patenting a paper cutter soon developed into Bradley inventing the paper cutter.
But hey, nothing wrong with improving a good invention! That’s still quite commendable.
BOARD GAME LEGEND: Candyland had to sue to get the rights to candyland.com away from a porn company.
Candyland, currently produced by Hasbro, is one of the most popular board games around.
A simple and colorful game, it is notable for being one of the first board games that young children can play.
So that made it all the more sketchy when a company called Internet Entertainment Group launched a softcore porn website in 1996 called candyland.com.
In the early days of the mainstream use of the internet (basically the mid-1990s), the law was pretty vague on the rights of corporations with regards to domain names of websites.
Hasbro filed suit against Internet Entertainment Group, but, again, with the laws unclear over whether Hasbro could specifically sue for the domain name itself, Hasbro instead sued under the theory that the candyland.com website was “tarnishing” Hasbro’s Candyland trademark by using the name candyland in fashion that would confuse users into thinking Hasbro was sponsoring pornography and would therefore dilute the power of Hasbro’s trademark.
Since it was pretty obvious that IEG WAS intending for an association with the popular game, Hasbro had a strong case, and when they went to trial, they won. Internet Entertainment Group had to give up the site and the rights to the domain name.
Nowadays, candyland.com takes you to Hasbro’s website and the proper (and non-salacious) “land of sweets”.
This would not be the end of IEG’s lawsuits, as one of the most notable porn website providers out there, they have had their fair share of legal entanglements over the years.
BOARD GAME LEGEND: The Milton Bradley board game for the Pyramid television show was different from the game on the show because the show was worried that the gave would help potential contestants too much.
Created by legendary game show producer Bob Stewart, the Pyramid was a long-running game show based on celebrities pairing up with contestants to get their partner to guess words or phrases based on descriptions given by them.
It started as the $10,000 Pyramid, but gained its greatest popularity as the $25,000 Pyramid…
There was also a $100,000 Pyramid.
The name of the show comes from the famous conclusion of the show, where the contestant who won the regular game would go into the “Winner’s Circle” and go up a “pyramid” of six categories (each one more difficult as you went up the pyramid) where, in a reverse of the regular game, instead of guessing words within a category, you would have to guess a category through a list of words (“Andy, Anne, Andrea…” “Names beginning with A!” Stuff like that).
It was a very popular show, and naturally enough, it received a “play at home” board game edition from Milton Bradley.
In fact, there were EIGHT editions of the Milton Bradley board game…
However, there was a major problem with the board game, at least as far as the show’s producers saw it. There were only a relatively small amount of possible categories for the Winner’s Circle. In fact, if you watch the show long enough, you’ll begin to see the same categories re-used fairly often.
So if they were to put those categories into the board game, prospective contestants would have a strong chance at being able to practice with categories that would actually end up being used ON the show!!
They did not like that idea, so the Milton Bradley game did NOT have a Winner’s Circle round. Yes, the board game of the Pyramid DID NOT USE A PYRAMID!!! Weird, eh?
For the final round, players would use the same categories that they played the regular rounds in, they’d just have to get all six of the words/phrases correct to win.
In 1986, Milton Bradley lost the license to a new company, Cardinal Games, which FINALLY were allowed to use the Winner’s Circle…
And the Winner’s Circle continues to the most recent home version, made by Endless Games…
It is good to know that their paranoia did not last to this day!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org