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Meanwhile At The Barbershop: Dude Gets The Soul Slapped Out Of Him And Wakes Up In The Matrix! If it hadn’t been for Johnny Carson, Twister may have never gotten off the ground. On the May 3, 1966, episode of the Tonight Show, Carson took a few minutes to demonstrate the little-known new party game. His guest that night was the blonde bombshell actress Eva Gabor. After a few right foot reds and left hand blues, Carson and Gabor were playfully entangled and the studio audience was in hysterics. Twister went on to sell more than 3 million copies over the next year. Guyer’s firm, the Reynolds Guyer Agency of Design, was hired to do a local back-to-school promotional display for Johnson brand shoe polish.
Guyer pitched King’s Footsie to 3M, but they passed. He then hired game designers Charles F. Foley and Neil Rabens to help him further develop the idea. The three of them came up with eight different game ideas for the polka dot mat.
The obvious winner was called Pretzel, a test of balance and skill that eventually became Twister. They then licensed Pretzel to Milton Bradley, and that’s where the story gets, well, twisted. Some accounts say that the company changed the name to Twister against Guyer’s wishes. But Guyer says that the name Pretzel was not legally available. But it’s solid proof that it doesn’t matter what you call something. Once you name it, that’s what it is.
Other accounts claim that Foley and Rabens walked off with the patent, taking credit for the invention. It’s true that theirs are the only names on the patent, but according to an interview with Rabens, on the day they applied for the patent, they signed over the rights to Guyer. They made a verbal agreement with him to get a certain percentage of profits, but Rabens says it was not honored. He and Foley soon went their own way, starting their own toy company. There is a patent, and quite frankly, I wasn’t part of it.
Foley and Rabens did a fabulous job and we worked together on it. I feel badly that they didn’t stick around to develop a division of our company. People have a tendency to attribute new products to one person, and I’ve never, in any of the products I’ve developed, seen it happen that one person did it. You share ideas and it’s a process. Too Hot for the Sears Catalog Meanwhile, back in 1965, some execs at Milton Bradley were reportedly uncomfortable with Twister’s sexual undercurrent and felt it went against the company’s clean image. But in its first months on the market, Twister barely sold at all. Fitch the next day in New York, and Twister was born.