1. The Roman Emperor Augustus played this game using nuts as a young boy. A 3000 BC set made from semiprecious stones was found in the tomb of an Egyptian child.The toy's name today comes from the 18th century, when stone chips were used to make them. What are they?
2. It can take hours to complete a single game. The longest one on record went for 70 days straight.It's sold in 80 countries and produced in 26 languages, including Croatian. It was developed during the Depression by an unemployed Charles Darrow. He couldn't persuade game manufacturer Parker Brothers to buy it and so began producing handmade versions.Unable to keep up with the orders, he returned to Parker Brothers and they took it on. It's still the bestselling board game in the world.
3. Phillips Petroleum's engineers tried to improve gasoline in the early 1950s. Along the way, they produced a taffy-like gunk.Phillips invested $50 million in the new material, which they called Marlex.Soon, their warehouses were full of Marlex pellets, but no one wanted to buy.Then, in 1958, a wild new toy swept America. Within six months, the oil company's warehouses were empty of Marlex, the raw material for the new toy. (An earlier version of it had also started a craze in 14th-century England.) The new model was given an alliterative name.
4. Ruth Handler and her husband, Elliot, started a toy business in 1945.One day she noticed her daughter playing with curvaceous cutout paper dolls rather than the then-popular baby dolls. In 1958 the Handlers made a doll that Ruth knew her daughter would love.In fact, she named the doll after her daughter. Later, a male doll was named for her son.
Sources:'Panati's Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things,' by Charles Panati; online Encyclopaedia Britannica; the Phillips Petroleum Web site; www.monopoly.com
(1) marbles; (2) Monopoly; (3) Hula-Hoop; (4) Barbie and Ken dolls.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society