Ah, Candy Land. Does a more benign board game exist? With the steep slopes of the Gumdrop Mountains, the sweet stalks of the Peppermint Stick Forest, and the sticky shores by the Ice Cream Floats, Candy Land has been My First Board Game for a lot of kids and also one of the easiest board games ever. Seriously, several babysitting sessions ended with me texting my friends through an entire game of Candy Land while some kindergarteners yelled at me for ignoring them. Where is the strategy? Where is the critical thought?! This game is for babies! But I digress. Candy Land has been an essential little piece of Americana since its inception in 1945 and kids (and their babysitters) play it on the regular.
The board game has changed aesthetically over the years, because the Dick and Jane look of the 50s had to get hip with the times. There was the kitschy beaded design of the late 70s and the cabbage patch-esque cartoons of the 80s, followed by some slight alterations for the 90s edition (even then, you can see the princesses' waist lines shrinking).
Enter the 2000s. Christina Aguilera is gyrating in assless chaps and Bratz Dolls are becoming a thing. So obviously, Candy Land has got to keep up. Gone is the gnome-like Princess Lolly doing a courtsey in the LollyPop Woods and the blushing Queen Frostine. The 2010 edition of Candy Land features a much slimmer Princess Lolly, with a waist so small I doubt she's sucking on sugar pops all day (unless they've been laced with TrimSpa). Queen Frostine's come hither hand and popped hip are complete with Botoxed lips, heavy eyelids, and the smallest little post-op nose I've seen on a cartoon.
But who gives a shit, right? Whatever, maybe Dad likes playing Candy Land with the kids more when the Queen Frostine is looking like one of those weird cartoon porn characters with phallic popsicles propped up all over her Ice Palace.
1. That's creepy.
2. Their altered figures have effects on the body images of children as young as three years old. Recent studies have shown that girls between the ages of three and five are likening themselves to the skinny, sexualized board game characters over the slightly heavier characters of the past. In one study, researchers played Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders with preschool girls:
The researcher let them choose one of three character pieces to move around the board: a thin character, an average figure, or an overweight one. “Their comments really surprised me,” Harriger recalls. “A lot of the 3-year-olds said to me, ‘I hate her; she’s fat.’ Or, ‘her stomach is big; I don’t want to be her.’ That was really concerning to me, that children so young already had such strong beliefs about what it means to be overweight.”
And so what was perhaps the last bastion of innocent childhood fun has been corrupted by over-sexed characters hardly fit for little girls just beginning to grasp body image. I hope you saved your grandma's musty vintage version of the board game.
Images via Peggy Orenstein