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1970s Fads: Twister!

By Wikipedia

Twister is a game of physical skill (or so the original producers at Arrow Games said) now produced by Hasbro Games. The object of the game is to get in as many compromising positions on the supplied colorful floor mat with members of opposite sex (or same, if you prefer) as possible while plausibly playing a board game. Shocking as it may seem, the game was a hit.

The game has one spinner (see illustration on far right), divided into fourths by color; each quadrant specifies left foot, right foot, left hand, or right hand. After spinning, the combination is called; players must move the part to a matching location. No two people can have a part on the same circle (rules are different for more people). Due to the scarcity of colored circles, players will often be required to put themselves in unlikely or precarious positions, eventually resulting in someone's fall.

The high-paced and frivolous nature of the game, the proximity it causes the between participants, and the ease with which the frequent losses can be given forfeits (such as stripping or drinking) make it highly popular at college parties. Hasbro even sponsors Twister events at colleges.

When Milton Bradley hesitantly released the game in 1966 (with Neil W. Rabens and Charles F. Foley credited as inventors), the company had no small amount of skepticism for its potential, as well as to-be-expected fear of public criticism. Detractors denounced the game as "sex in a box." These fears were dispelled when Johnny Carson featured the game on the May 3, 1966 episode of The Tonight Show. One of Johnny's guests was Eva Gabor in a low-cut dress. With Eva on her hands and knees and Johnny on top, the audience reaction was perfect; hysterical laughter and screams of delight. In its first year, Milton Bradley sold more than three million copies of Twister.

I realize this technically makes Twister a fad of the 1960s, but too many of us remember it while growing up in the 70s for us to ignore it here.

Twister in Pop Culture

  • "Weird Al" Yankovic released a song called "Twister" on his Even Worse album in 1988.
  • Twister's original name was "Pretzel."
  • The current cover features a computer aided drawing of Mark Conrad.
  • The game was featured in the 1991 film Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey where the heroes play Death at Twister for their lives.
  • In the 1997 film U Turn, Billy Bob Thornton's character of Darrell, the bizarre auto mechanic, plays Twister alone.
  • The game was also featured in the 2002 film Men in Black II where Laura (Rosario Dawson) plays Twister with the Worm Guys.
  • Also featured in the 2002 comedy film The Hot Chick, where actress Megan Kuhlmann wears the vinyl Twister mat as a dress to a nightclub. A boy she dances with moves his hand from several colored dots on her back to her buttocks.
  • Fez plays twister by himself in an episode of That 70s Show. Donna asks how he is doing that.


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We have colorized the original United States patent illustration from 1969.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from this Wikipedia article, which is probably more up to date than ours (retrieved August 12, 2005).

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