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December 2, 2005

Candy Land Makeover?

It was pure coincidence that shortly after I wrote the Candy Land piece below, we bought a Dora the Explorer Christmas video for our kids.

Imagine my surprise, then, when one of the first previews on the DVD was for a Candy Land video, coming soon to a Target, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, and every other mass-marketing outlet near you.

Actually, I wasn't surprised so much by the fact that there is a movie version in the works(I guess that was inevitable), but that there have been substantive changes to the Candy Land game we purchased just a few years ago. I Googled the Candy Land home page, and confirmed that indeed the characters have been modified.

For example, Queen Frostine on our board game has been demoted to Princess Frostine on the website. Our Princess Lolly is now identified simply as Lolly.

Well, what the heck happened in Candy Land to cause the stripping of these regal titles? Sometimes when a new CEO takes over a troubled company, there is a downsizing that results in widespread layoffs, pay cuts, and demotions - is that what happened here?

Was there a coup in Candy Land that somehow went unreported in the midst of another flare-up in our global war on terror? Because in our household, those are equally noteworthy developments. At the very least, it should warrant its own 60 Minutes piece.

If there was a takeover, the new Candy Master must also be somewhat sexist to demote the highest ranking female characters. Thankfully he didn't change Gramma Nutt into just Mother Nutt.

Most shockingly, Plumpy, the charatcer closest to the start, is nowhere to be seen. In his place now stands something called Mama Gingertree, who "gives you a great big welcome to your adventure." Huh? Where'd Plumpy go?

Now, there may be several explanations for this, but I'm afraid it's a case of political correctness run amok.

Have people become so sensitive that we can't have a character named "Plumpy" anymore? If so, is the opposite also true - would it be offensive to have a character named "Skinny"? What about sarcastic nicknames, like big guys named Tiny or scrawny guys nicknamed Muscles? Are any nicknames acceptable any more?

(Purely random tangent: One of my favorite relay team names at the Big Sur Marathon is the Fat White Kenyans. Now these guys could be accused of offending three groups of people simultaneously - but I don't think it has ever been taken that way.)

Not only that, but they kept the obese gumdrop character named Jolly. Now...isn't that the more offensive stereotype to perpetuate: the jolly fat man?

I thought it was great to have Plumpy at the start of the game. In addition to my whole "similar spacing as the marathon" concept, it's good for kids to have a few negative role models, also. The story on the game box says that all Plumpy does is eat candy - well, isn't that a good example for kids of what happens if you eat too much and don't exercise?

I mean, the game is called CANDY LAND!! Shouldn't there be some indication of what happens if you just sit around on your butt stuffing your face instead of going out on your great adventure?

OK, that's enough. I mean...it's a children's game. Maybe I'm reading too much into this. I swear I get too attached to my ideas and writing for my own good. I guess I've rambled enough about Candy Land for now.

Well, except one more thing. On the website, there's a FAQ page with an e-mail address for customer service. I wrote them and asked two questions: 1) Why did Queen Frostine and Princess Lolly get demoted, and 2) What the heck happened to Plumpy? I'll post the answers if I get any.

And for anyone who didn't think anyone could write 2,000 words about Candy Land...just know that I'm quite an unusual breed. The next post will be about running, I promise.


robtherunner 12/2/05, 7:05 PM  

I enjoyed the post. The new CEO must have felt that it might be inappropriate to replace the queen with a king and demote the princess to a servant. Hmmm, I would be interested in knowing the line of thought that went into the change.

stronger 12/5/05, 10:06 AM  

Very clever analogies. I bookmarked your blog the other day so I would remember to return and read your CandyLand post. My sister jokes about her 3yr. old playing CandyLand daily so you are not alone. Good use of the game. Thanks to you, if I ever run a marathon I’ll be running in CandyLand.

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