How long has it been since you’ve played Candy Land? When I was a kid, it was one of my favorites and I can still remember how delicious the board looked and the worn soft edges of the cards that we had played with for years. Did you know that Candy Land was invented in the 1940’s by a young woman who was recovering from polio? Imagine the hours of family fun that she created for generations!
One Thanksgiving, 2002 or 2003, most of our family went up to DC to my sister’s house for the holiday. My nephew, Jackson, was about four so he was RIPE for Candy Land. He jumped on that game like a duck on a bug. I am not exaggerating–we played for nine hours straight, stopping only to eat the meal then right back to it.
Gotta admit…I was sad to see that the familiar Candy Land board had been updated with new places and characters for the special spots on the board. No more heading for the ice cream floats–instead you visit the icy loveliness of Princess Frostine. No peanut brittle house. Now it’s Gramma Nutt’s peanut farm. The molasses swamp is chocolate now. What kid even knows what molasses is these days? At least it’s not all carrots and raisins and celery sticks. Even Cookie Monster has been forced to admit that cookies are a sometimes food. Candy Land survives, even if it’s been gentrified.
Today was a sick day for my sport model daughter, so we spent a while on the living room floor playing Candy Land. She’s gotten a lot better at it in the two years we’ve been playing it. She remembers which game piece is hers and I don’t have to remind her which direction the path goes. The counting is a cinch. She’s even learning to overcome her need to win every game. She remembers to celebrate every victory with a high five and a cheer of “GOOD GAME!”
She’s even learned to cheat. This afternoon, I told her to go set up the board game. When we were just about to begin the game, she chirped, “I’ll go first!” as she was organizing the deck of cards. She tried to be cool, but I caught her peeking at the top card. It was Princess Frostine, the special card that takes a player about 20 spaces from the end of the game. That little minx had stacked the deck against her own mother! But this ain’t my first rodeo. “Aren’t you going to shuffle those cards?” I asked. Her eyes twinkled as she tried to think of a reason not to. She knew she had been caught. I twinkled right back at her. She shuffled them, went first…and won the game anyway.
The cool thing about Candy Land is that it is a game of pure luck. No need for strategy or memory or any skill. It’s just about taking turns and enjoying the game. Now, with all that said…she beat me four times in a row. On the third game, I was RIGHT THERE, within reach of the Candy Castle and damn if I didn’t draw Gramma Nut. Busted back to Gramma Nut. Vivi didn’t crow as she sped past me to the win. I still got a high five and “Good Game, Mommy!” but DANG. We played “one more game” for an hour and as I continued without a W in my column I got a little desperate. There was a turn where I accidentally picked up two cards that were stuck together and I could have gone with the double yellow but I took the single blue. It crossed my mind to cheat but I overcame it. BECAUSE IT’S CANDY LAND, ASHLEY.
By Game Five, I was in a real crisis of self confidence. Princess Frostine and her icy perkiness was starting to piss me off, like I could never reach her chilly perfection. If she lived in this world, she would wear tiny yoga pants and make stevia-sweetened yogurt parfaits for birthday parties. There I was, back with Gramma Nut and her fluffy apron, sensible sun hat and gardening gloves. No glamour, no frills. A peanut farmer.
Was it taking it too far to go to the Hasbro website and do a little recon on these women? Well guess what I found out.
Gramma Nutt, a matriarchal figure who lives in a peanut-brittle house, is one of the most well-loved and recognizable Candy Land characters. She carries a basket, presumably filled with peanuts, and has a small dog shaped like– you guessed it– a peanut.
Symbolized by an ice cream cone, the character of Frostine has also changed over the years. Until 2002, Frostine was a matriarchal-looking queen with white hair. Now she is portrayed as a blonde-haired young woman and has been remaned Princess Frostine. Her domain is called Snowflake Lake and signifies frozen desserts.
So we started out with two matriarchal figures. One of them ended up getting soft around the belly, living in a nuthouse with a little dog. The other one aged in reverse, turned blonde and started hanging out at the lake.
I think it’ll be best for all of us if I go back to work tomorrow. Because it turns out they’ve updated Frostine in the 2010 version of the game. Get a load of THIS: