27 Mar

The History of Yahtzee in North America

Surprise! Yahtzee history sounds a lot like the making of Beano; I mean, Bingo!

The History of Yahtzee in North America

Yahtzee is undeniably the most popular dice-based family game of all time. Farkle comes a close second, but for more than half a century, the game of Yahtzee has fascinated children and adults of all ages from every corner of the globe.

Surprisingly, Yahtzee shares its history with another game that’s fascinated the masses for a few decades longer. I’m talking about Bingo (or Beano, as its name was originally intended). You’ll understand why as you continue reading our…

History of Bingo in North America

Yahtzee’s elaborate history began in 1954 when a wealthy Canadian couple came up with a new way to entertain their friends while boating on the high seas. They called it “The Yacht Game”, for the simple reason that they played it on their luxury yacht. Everyone enjoyed the dice game so much that the couple – who’s sir name has never been recorded – approached one of the region’s most famous toy makers, Mr. Edwin S. Lowe.

If that name sounds familiar, it should. Edwin S. Lowe is the same toy manufacturer from New York City who traveled south to Georgia in 1929 to discover a group of carnival folks having a fantastic time playing “Beano” beneath one of the traveling show’s largest tents. That game was soon marketed from the New Yorker’s warehouse as “Lowe’s Bingo” – and eventually just “Bingo” as we know it today.

Getting back to the story at hand, the Canadian couple wasn’t looking to sell their game and make a fortune. They were already counted among high society. Their desire was for Mr. Lowe to produce sets of the game they could gift to their friends. Not only did he appease the original inventors of the game, he purchased the rights to its rules in exchange for the sum of the first 1,000 sales. He renamed it “Yahtzee”, and in 1956, the store shelves soon began to fill with them.

It wasn’t what you might call an immediate success. At a glance, Yahtzee appears to have some rather complicated rules, making it difficult to promote the game in commercial advertisements. People didn’t quite understand what was happening in the game, therefore it took time to really catch on – more by word of mouth than anything else.

Yahtzee Changes Hands, Grows Immensely

Yahtzee Dice Game by Milton Bradley

The game drew a sizeable following over the greater part of two decades. Under the E.S. Lowe Company label, more than 40 million copies were sold in North America. But it wasn’t until Edwin Lowe sold the rights to Yahtzee to a much more famous board game brand – Milton Bradley Company – that it really took off.

The new manufacturer marketed the game on a global scale. According to its parent company Hasbro, Inc., which bought out Milton Bradley in 1984, Yahtzee is now so popular, it’s averaging 50 million games sold globally each year. The makers estimate that 100 million people all over the world play Yahtzee regularly.

There’s so much more to learn about this fascinating dice game! Use the links below to expand your knowledge of Yahtzee.

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