The people have spoken, and they can has cheezburger.
Monopoly, the 80-year-old American board game from Hasbro, is overhauling its iconic player pieces. After an online vote, the classic boot, thimble, and wheelbarrow will be replaced by a penguin, rubber ducky, and Tyrannosaurus Rex.
In 2013, Monopoly lost the clothes iron and gained a cat. This shift set in motion a seemingly mismatched future for the game of real-estate greed: The new mascots for the joy of bringing financial ruin unto others will come from a menagerie of cute or extinct animals.
The voting ran for the month of January. Hasbro gave a choice of 64 truly bizarre and anachronistic pieces, including a gramophone, a roller skate, and a campfire. Choices included winking, smiling, kissing, and crying emojis, plus a hashtag. The options could be seen to represent the grim realities on the progression through adulthood: Buying property, charging rent to our loved ones, giving exorbitant amounts of cash to the government, and paying occasional visits to jail.
The classic American game, with more than a thousand themed variations, gained wide popularity in 1930s Depression-era US. The exact provenance of the game is a matter of contention, but the company sets the official launch at 1935, when Parker Brothers, since bought by Hasbro, acquired the real-estate game based on the streets of Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The original pieces used by Charles Darrow, who sold the game to Parker Brothers, were charms taken from his niece’s bracelet. The first games came with 10 pieces: the iron, purse, lantern, race car, thimble, boot, top hat, battleship, cannon, and rocking horse. Of those, only the battleship, car, and hat will remain after the changeover this fall.
“The original tokens represented familiar items from 1930s America,” Jonathan Berkowitz, senior vice president of marketing for Hasbro Gaming, writes in an email. “The new tokens clearly represent the voices of our fans from around the world.”
The loss of the boot, thimble, and wheelbarrow can be read as millennials throwing their hands up over manual labor in favor of internet memes and a cute prehistoric face. It’s also a move away from the incongruity that’s marked Monopoly in all of the decades since its launch.
The lantern and rocking horse were early outliers from their work-themed set. In the 1950s, the group of household items and symbols of financial success were joined by a Scottish Terrier. By the late ’90s the game introduced a plain ol’ bag of money, something people were really into carrying around back then. That was replaced in 2013 by a hero actually fit for these times, a cat.