Candy Land leaves a bittersweet taste

Like a visit to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory the sweet experience that is Candy Land can quickly turn sinister when you are up against a six-year-old.

I tried to hold out but after a few hours of pestering I gave in to demands to play the board game, even though I knew I'd be on a slope as slippery as the one Veruca Salt was on as the squirrels propelled her toward the garbage shoot.

You have to wonder about embittered old Roald Dahl working away in a cold shed with shrapnel from the war in his back, writing novels about how bad things happened to children. I can't imagine him getting a book contract today and yet his novels are still loved by children who revel in the macabre.

Candy Land reminds me of a Dahl novel. It's sweet but it leaves a sickly taste. It reminds me of the instance today at work when an email was sent out asking for volunteers to test Valentine's chocolates upstairs. Emails are routinely ignored but this one caused a mass break out of fumblings and heads jerking up like prairie dogs from the cubicles followed by a mad sprint up the faux marble stairs as we elbowed each other out of the way to reach the samples first.

The first one tasted good but by number six I was feeling distinctly queasy as if I was due an audience with my Uncle Ralph.

There are lots of sweet things on display in Candy Land like Gingerbread Plumb Trees and Licorice Castle. Unfortunately after a couple of defeats my daughter isn't one of them.

I hasten to add I'm not a Competitive Dad like the guy on the Fast Show who plays tennis with a young boy and serves him volleys ash if he'sVenus Williams.

Unfortunately, Candy Land is purely a game of luck. You can't cheat, not even to ensure a six-year-old wins.

Bizarrely enough I kept winning game after game, my success inversely proportionate to the length of Zara's face. For some reason I kept turning up Queen Frostine, the character that takes you to the top of the board and almost certain victory.

Then at last after four straight victories to a chorus of screaming and foot stamping, she turned up Queen Frostine. I was relived as it seemed she was about to win. Before she turned up the nefarious arsenic candy cane that took her back to the start of the board, that was, ensuring another win for me.

I wanted to quit but couldn't before she had won at least one game. I even sneakily moved her counter a few paces forward when she wasn't looking. And I avoided my subtle winning routine; you know the one, running in crazy circles round the room with my arms aloft yelling: "yes, yes, yes ....loooooser.'

(joke - BTW)

After yet another success I suggested it was all down to my lucky green counter. It had the luck of the Irish, for sure. If we swapped she would surely find a pot of gold at the end of a syrupy rainbow.

Zara wasn't convinced. Finally we swapped and the rest is history. I won again and the betrayal was up there with Hitler and Munich etc.

We had to play late into the night and well past Zara's bedtime for her to chalk up a few victories.

But even these proved Pyrrhic. By the next morning the late night had left her bad tempered and now she wants me to get her a live squirrel.


  1. LOL!!! My daughter is 6, and I feel your pain. I've pushed her token up a few spaces when she isn't looking too! That game can get mean...

  2. Not a pretty picture. Can't imagine the cat (if it's still around) would be pleased with a squirrel as competition. Or is it replacement? Definitely going downhill from here.

  3. Ha, I've become convinced over the course of my life that board games are all evil. I don't really remember anytime when I thought, wow that was a fun, hassle free time. You either end up arguing about it when you're with competitive people or you get bored with the apathetic.

    I liked Mouse Trap as a kid though. The pieces would always break after you played it once though.

  4. What do you mean you can't cheat? Of course you can....let the wee yins win a few don't want her scarred for life, do ye?

  5. Oh that game! It is a nightmarish memory. You are a brave/wonderful father.

    . . . and thanks . . . now I'm having horrible memories of sliding and knowing the game would never end . . .

  6. HA HA HA! Oh how I hated Candy Land. I'm so glad that it is in my past, at least for now. Fortunately for me, my boys when they were young didn't care for it much either, so we didn't play it much. It was a very short-lived means of entertainment at our house.

  7. I like the game since it's about candy. Whenever I play it with kids, they always cheat - with conviction that their ridiculous new rules are right. Good thing is, the pile of cards is so big, you can "accidentally" knock it over.

  8. Thanks Marnie, yep the game gets unpleasant when the child is losing. for sure Sue - yup the cat is still around. Board games are the font of evil, Christopher. Well for sure Scots lass , but she won't like it if she realizes I'm cheating in her favor. Thanks Deborah - I think I need a purple heart. You are lucky, Daisy. Itr does make you want to eat considerable amounts of chocolate Robyn, lol

  9. Oooohhhh ... Candyland! My daughters are well past the age of participating in Candyland, but I do believe we still have it in the house somewhere. I love that game ... creepy though it is. Pretty sure that "Sorry" was my girls favorite and you may rest assured that whent hey called our "Soooooorrrrryyyyy" they most definitely were NOT.


  10. In SA Candyland is not available so as a good US Citizen I introduced my nephew to the great board game. He beat me every time and he is 4! I wouldn't do well in Vegas.

  11. Oh my Lord, mind numbing. I'm glad that game was never a big hit in this house. You are a good daddy. ;)


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