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Chuck Foley, Thank You for Inventing Twister

  • Blog Post by: Nancy Wurtzel
  • July 12, 2013 - 11:07 AM

Chuck Foley, a Minnesota native and inventor of the board game Twister, has died. When I heard the news on television last night, I couldn’t help remembering the last time I played Twister. It had to be more than a dozen years ago.

In a fit of nostalgia, I had purchased the venerable board game with the thought of creating some some fun, family-bonding time. I had some really fond memories of playing the game when I was young.

One sunny afternoon, I opened the box and unfolded the famous dotted mat on the family room floor. My young daughter, who was was obsessed with reading chapter books, had virtually no interest. She pronounced it a “silly game” and went back to reading.

The mat remained on the floor until after dinner, when I insisted we try playing the game again.

My husband was in charge of spinning the dial while my daughter and I played the game. Overall, I think my daughter was still mainly unimpressed. Yet, I do remember laughing pretty hard after the fifth or six spin, which required us to hold increasingly awkward poses.

Just as my daughter decided she had had enough, I did one more spin which required me to move my right foot from the red circle where it was resting to a green circle. That’s when I felt a burning pain coming from deep within my lower back.

I collapsed on the floor. The game that was promised to “Tie You Up in Knots,” had done just that. It was an inglorious end to the one and only game of Twister we played as a family.

The next day, I called my chiropractor.

My Twister experiment required several visits to get me walking completely upright again.

However, I harbored no hard feeling about the board game. After all, I was an older parent with a young child, so it wasn’t the first time I’d had to have my spine realigned. And, it would not be the last.

I’d almost forgotten about Twister, but then I heard the news about Charles “Chuck” Foley last night. At the time of his death, Mr. Foley was 82 years old. In recent years, he had resided in the same Twin City suburb in which I now live, and he had had Alzheimer’s disease.

I wanted to learn more.

Evidently, Mr. Foley had created many games and other inventions during his lifetime.

In the early 1960s, he came up with a unique board game he called “Pretzel.” A few years later, Mr. Foley sold the game to toy maker Milton Bradley, and they renamed it “Twister.” It went on to be one of the best-selling children’s board games of all times.

Toy giant Hasbro now manufacturers Twister, and it continues to be a favorite.

I’m glad to hear that Twister is still being made and still making people laugh. I wondered about a man who could think up a game that would endure through the generations.

His son, Mark Foley, is quoted as saying about his father, “He tried to think like young people thought. He never wanted to grow up, and he always maintained his enthusiasm for seeing things through the eyes of a child.”

Well done, Chuck Foley! Your low-tech game creation lives on and is helping people make fun memories in a world that has largely gone digital. Children, teens, adults, and chiropractors everywhere thank you for your invention.

Just think, at this very moment — someone, somewhere — is playing Twister and laughing.

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