Candyland is a simple racing board game. It has become a cultural icon in the U.S., where it is among the first board games played by children because it requires no ability to read and only minimal counting skills.

Game play

The race is straightforward, woven around a simple story line about finding the lost king of Candyland. The board consists of a winding, linear track made of 134 spaces, most of which are red, green, blue, yellow, orange or violet. The remaining few spaces are named locations such as Candy Cane Forest and Gum Drop Mountain, or characters like Queen Frostine and Gramma Nutt.

Players take turns removing the top card from a randomized stack, most of which show one of six colors, and then moving their marker ahead to the next space of that color. Some cards have two marks of a color, in which case the player moves his or her marker ahead to the second-next space of that color. The deck also contains one card for each named location, and drawing such a card moves a player directly to that location's space on the board. This move can be either forward or backward in the classic game; backward moves can be ignored for younger players in the 2004 version of the game.

Before the 2004 version of the current game, there were three colored spaces marked with a dot. A player that lands on such a space is stuck (all cards are ignored) until a card is drawn of the same color as the square. As of the 2004 version of the current game, dot spaces have been replaced with licorice spaces which prompt the player landing on it to simply lose his or her next turn.

The game is won by landing on or passing the final square - the official rules explicitly specify that any card that would cause the player to advance past the last square wins the game, but many play so that one must land exactly on the last square to win. The 2004 version of the current game changed the last space to a rainbow space, meaning it applies to any color drawn by a player, thus clarifying any remaining controversy about how one exactly wins the game.

The classic game takes longer to complete than one might expect, because the location cards can send players backwards. Also, the dot spaces could force players to exhaust several turns without moving.

History of Candyland

The game was designed in the 1940s by Eleanor Abbott, while she was recovering from polio in San Diego, California.

The game was bought by Milton Bradley Company (now owned by Hasbro) and first published in 1949. Hasbro produces several versions of the game and treats it as a brand. For example, they market Candyland puzzles, a travel version, a PC game, and a handheld electronic version.

A December, 2005 article in Forbes magazine analyzed the most popular American toys by decade, with help from the Toy Industry Association. Candyland led the list for the 1940-1949 decade.

Versions of Candyland

At least four different versions of the Candyland board game were made. The first version dates from 1949. This version, and other early versions, had only locations (Molasses Swamp, Gumdrop Mountains, etc.) and no characters. The next version, as shown in a picture from the Elliott Avedon Museum, of a board copyright 1962, shows a track layout different from the more modern versions. The next revision, from the 1980s and 1990s, has the characters such as Mr. Mint and Gramma Nutt, has the modern track layout, and ends with a purple square. The rules specify that any card that would cause you to advance past the purple square wins the game, but many people play you must land exactly on it. In the most modern version, there is a rainbow-striped square at the end to make the official rule visually explicit. The rules for the modern game also specify that a character card resulting in a backward move can be ignored, resulting in a much shorter game if desired. Some of the characters are renamed in the modern version - Queen Frostine is Princess Frostine, for example. Finally, the classic Molasses Swamp is changed to Chocolate Swamp, presumably because the children of 2002 are more familiar with chocolate than molasses.

A VCR board game version of the game was made in 1986, although distribution of the game appears to have been limited. An animated 2005 feature Candy Land: The Great Lollipop Adventure was produced and later spawned a DVD game version of Candyland.

The Give Kids the World: Village edition of Candyland was produced by Hasbro especially for the Give Kids the World Village. The GKTW Village is a nonprofit resort in Kissimmee, Florida for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. In this version, traditional Candyland characters and locations were replaced with the venues and characters of the Village. Characters like Mayor Clayton, Ms. Merry, and others are represented on the board.

SKU # Title
Candyland (1949 edition)
Candyland (1950s edition)
Candyland (1962 edition)
Candyland (1967 edition)
Candyland (1985 edition)
Candyland: VCR Board Game (1986)
MB1001 Candyland: 50th Anniversary Collector’s Tin (1999)
04700 Candyland (2002 edition)
41051 Candyland: Winnie-the-Pooh Edition
41605 Candyland: Collector’s Series Game Tin
42588 Candyland: Dora the Explorer
42743 Candyland: Deluxe (only at Toys R Us)
42328 Candyland: DVD Game
53678 Candyland: Dora the Explorer with Memory Game Tin
Candyland Castle Game
114866 Candyland: Fun of the Run (portable)
Candyland: Give Kids the World: Village Edition

Mathematics of Candyland

Mathematically, Candyland is very nearly a Markov chain, and would be exactly such a chain if the deck were re-shuffled after each card is drawn. There have been several analyses of game play (see references below)

There is no optimal strategy, or indeed any decision making, involved in Candyland. The moves are wholly determined by the cards, which are drawn in order. The only random chance element comes from each shuffling of the deck. Every time the deck is shuffled, one of n + 1 outcomes is pre-determined, where n is the number of players: one of the players wins, or the deck will need to be shuffled again after it is used.

Candyland characters

  • The Kids
  • The Gingerbread People
  • Mr. Mint
  • Gramma Nutt
  • King Kandy
  • Jolly
  • Plumpy (taken out of the most recent version of the game)
  • Mama Ginger Tree (replaces Plumpy)
  • Princess Lolly (renamed 'Lolly' after 2002 edition)
  • Queen Frostine (renamed 'Princess Frostine' after 2002 edition)
  • Lord Licorice
  • Gloppy the Molasses Monster (renamed Gloppy the Chocolate Monster)

Commercial use of the name

The Candy section of Toys R Us in NYC's Times Square maintained a Candyland theme, until losing their license for the characters in 2006. The theme included a colored pathway that mimicked the board for the game, several Candyland characters, and candy-themed shelving and ceiling decorations.

Internet name

Candyland was involved in one of the first disputes over internet domain names. An adult web content provider registered, and Hasbro objected. Hasbro was able to obtain an injunction against the use, and changed the content appropriately after claiming ownership of the site.

External links

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