Lite Brite, Ants In The Pants, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, Masterpiece, Operation, Mousetrap, Smash Up Derby, The Evil Knievel Stunt Cycle, Simon, and Gnip Gnop — these were the games of my childhood.
Little did I know that all of those amazing toys originated from one company located in a highly secretive bunker just a few miles south of my suburban Chicago home. Marvin Glass, the founder of Marvin Glass & Associates, was one of the most prolific and brilliant toy inventors of the 20th century. His company’s product list is my childhood.
One of the most beloved and collectible board games of all time, also created by Marvin Glass & Associates, was a game called Mystery Date.
Here’s the commercial from 1965.
One of the most sought-after games of the 1960s, if you were a little girl back then, this game was EV-ER-Y-THING. Marketed to girls 6-14 years old, the game was a runaway hit. The best part of every slumber party and girlie playdate, the Mystery Date commercial jingle became part of the vernacular. To this day, most women in their 50s can probably sing it word for word.
Yeah, so like every other little girl, I was OBSESSED with this game. In a way, it made me feel grown up and a little naughty to be playing a game about dating.
Now a million years later, in a completely different world. I find it to be a little more problematic. I have a biracial, 14 year-old daughter and looking back on my beloved childhood board game, I kinda have some issues. Like real issues.
On this episode, I chat with three good friends about Mystery Date. Frances Callier, a comedian and regular pundit on the Sexy Liberal Show. My dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker friend, TV writer and producer, Francesca Rollins, whose connection to the game is as New York as can be. Plus my friend and lifetime Mystery Date superfan, Mike Mannarino, an executive with a major Silicon Valley tech firm.
Through today’s lens and current political climate, this game looks a lot different to all of us. And the subtext is, in a word, icky.
I’d like to say a special thank you to rights and clearances consultant Amy Goodfriend and to the wonderful folks at Hasbro for allowing me to use their awesome jingle in the show.
Also, I’m not gonna lie, I wish I still had the original version of the game. With the right framing, I actually think it could still be a lot of fun.
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