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Tabletop Game / Candy Land

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A sweet little game for sweet little folks.

Candy Land is a children's board game originally published in 1949. It traditionally consists of a long and twisty road of six colors and a 64-card deck. Players move by drawing the top card from the deck to reveal a color, moving their piece to the nearest space with that color. There are also cards that take the player to sections of the land, sending them forward or backward several spaces. The first player who reaches "Home Sweet Home" (later replaced with King Kandy's castle) wins.

Many consider the product to be the best example of a children's game. It requires no skill except basic motor control, children are enthralled by the colorful world, and anyone over the age of 10 will play only in order to spend time with someone under the age of 10. As such, it's a classic.

A movie version is in development, but it's stuck in Development Hell for now.


There was an Animated Adaptation, Candy Land: The Great Lollipop Adventure, that is considerably more criticized for being too sweet. There's also a baking show adaptation hosted by Kristin Chenoweth and aired on Food Network in 2020.

This board game provides examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: When the 1980s brought a new version of the board, depicting some of the characters who live in Candy Land, the game became packaged with a story detailing King Kandy's disappearance, all the citizens' reactions, and the players' mission to find out where the king and his castle went.
  • An Ice Person: Queen/Princess Frostine, true to her name. Her main theme is ice cream and she makes sugary snowflakes too.
  • Anthropomorphic Food: Most residents of Candyland, such as Gloppy the Molasses/Chocolate Monster, Mr. Mint, a peppermint stick lumberjack, and of course, the gingerbread men playing pieces.
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  • Big Bad: Lord Licorice. He is implied to be responsible for King Kandy's disappearance, and he's the only character who tries to impede your quest.
  • Big Eater: Plumpy, and unfortunately, he tends to eat more sugar plums than he harvests.
  • The Bus Came Back: Mr. Mint was omitted in the World of Sweets version, but public outcry caused him to return in the 2013 version.
  • The Chosen One: The enclosed backstory says King Kandy's daughter, Princess Lolly, picked which kids would go find him.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Earlier versions had a satyr, Plumpy, rather than Mama Gingertree.
    • Mama Gingertree, Mr. Mint, Jolly, and Grandma Nutt do not appear in the World of Sweets version.
    • The 2013 version brought back Mr. Mint and Grandma Nutt, but replaced the Candy Land Kids with anthropomorphic sweets.
    • Sometimes Hasbro removes entire places from the board.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Candy Land apparently lost some of its beauty and happiness following the King's disappearance. You probably can't tell by looking at all the bright colors and smiling denizens on the board.
  • Digital Tabletop Game Adaptation: There was a CD-game adaptation where you could play the game against a friend, or just click around and visit the various locations to talk to the characters and play minigames. For example, visiting Frostine will let you make your own ice-cream, and visiting Grandma Nut will let you interact with her garden.
  • Excuse Plot: Even as a child, did the backstory about King Kandy's disappearance matter when you were actually playing the game? No.
  • Five-Token Band: Updates made during the 2000s gave the Caucasian Candy Land Kids some African-American and Asian-American friends.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Once the deck of cards is shuffled and the player order chosen, the outcome of the game is already decided, as long as the players don't run out of cards and have to reshuffle the deck (which itself was set in stone, and once reshuffled, the trope takes effect again). There is literally nothing any player can do to affect the outcome of the game.
  • Gingerbread House: The last space in the versions released before the 1980s. World of Sweets has it as one of the locales located along the path.
  • Golden Snitch: Drawing a card marked with the name of a location in the Candy Land (usually, names like "Candy Cane Forest" and "Gum Drop Mountain") or its inhabitants, such as Queen/Princess Frostine or Gloppy the Molasses/Chocolate Monster. Especially if the card corresponding to one of these locations or characters were drawn early and said place/character was close to the end, drawing the card could virtually seal a win very early. See Whammy for the inverse situation.
  • Gratuitous Princess: In addition to Princess Lolly, a revamped version only increased this by changing Queen Frostine to a princess as well.
  • The High Queen: Queen Frostine...before the Remake changed heer into a princess.
  • House Rules: To keep your sanity as an adult playing with kids, these are often used: Draw a hand of three to five cards (instead of just a single card), choose which color to play (instead of accepting fate), play multiple cards at a time if they're all the same color and use special cards to send your opponents backward.
  • Hot Consort: Queen Frostine, originally, before she was changed into King Kandy's daughter instead of his wife.
  • Level Ate: The title of the game isn't figurative. This is really a land of candy.
  • Licensed Game: Two of them, both for Windows and Macintosh computers. First there was Candy Land Adventure which came out in 1996, and was more or less an edutainment minigame collection and never featured the actual board game, though it did have a running plot regarding Lord Licorice having kidnapped King Candy. Then there was the 1998 adaptation, which was more faithful since it actually had the board game it was based off of, plus a few minigames of its own. Although technically just called Candy Land, it had the Tag Line "A Child's First Game Comes to Life".
  • Luck-Based Mission: Probably to assure the young ones aren't disadvantaged: The game's outcome is determined by the luck of the draw and nothing else. This game is not for the strategic crowd, folks!
  • Mucking in the Mud:
    • Land in the Molasses/Chocolate Swamp and you lose at least one turn. Some rules had the player stuck there til a certain color was drawn.
    • Dotted spaces called "cavities," which render the player "stuck" until drawing a card – or depending on the version, double card – with the same color as the dotted space they're currently on. The player lost one – or sometimes many – turns this way.
  • Parent Service: Some later editions of the game give Lolly and Frostine sexier designs (usually aging the former up to avoid Unfortunate Implications, as she’s a small child in earlier editions.) It didn’t exactly work as intended; parents noticed it, and didn’t like it much.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: In any version of the game, Frostine and Lolly have very fancy food-based dresses.
  • Race Lift: In the 2021 version, Queen Frostine is black and Princess Lolly is East Asian (King Kandy is still white, though), while Jolly is changed from a nonhuman creature into a black man.
  • Rewrite:
    • In 2002, Molasses Swamp was changed to Chocolate Swamp, and later replaced by Chocolate Mountain, and then by Chocolate Falls. Gloppy changed from a living glob of molasses to a living glob of melted chocolate. This is likely because molasses candy is less popular among modern children than it was in the past.
    • The 2002 version also replaces Plumpy the sugarplum-picking troll with Mama Gingertree the living gingerbread cookie tree – again, most likely because sugarplums are rarely eaten by children of the 2000s.
    • In 2010, Gramma Nutt and her peanut brittle cottage were replaced by Gramma Gooey, resident of Chocolate Mountain. She was brought back in 2013, however, but then replaced again by Duchess E. Claire of Chocolate Falls in the 2021 version.
    • Queen Frostine also became Princess Frostine in 2002 (see below), but was changed back into a queen in 2021.
    • In the 2010 version, Mr. Mint was replaced by a new ice cream-themed character, Duke of Swirl, and Princess Frostine's theme was changed from ice cream to popsicles. This change proved unpopular, so the 2013 version brought back Mr. Mint and gave Frostine her ice cream theme back.
    • The 2021 version gives Jolly an Adaptational Species Change from a strange gumdrop creature into a human gentleman in a Willy Wonka-like costume.
  • Related Differently in the Adaptation: The character of Frostine was originally "Queen Frostine," wife of King Kandy and mother of Princess Lolly. From 2002 until 2021, she was retitled "Princess Frostine," and was King Kandy's daughter and Princess Lolly's older sister.
  • Roll-and-Move: Movement is determined entirely by drawing a card from a deck (in earlier versions of the game) or spinning a spinner (as of 2013). You go to the next space of the indicated colour (the deck also had some cards that sent you to a fixed space on the board). Most spaces have no effect, though there are a few "lose a turn" ones, and some versions of the game have spaces that make you skip ahead a bit. Whoever finishes the linear racing track first wins. As a result, the game is simple and fully luck-based. This is intentional, as it's designed so that even very young children can play it.
  • Stock "Yuck!": The likely reason the bad guy is made of licorice is because it tends to fit this trope.
  • Sugar Bowl: Literally and figuratively. This is the whole point of Candyland. A land filled with colors and candy.
  • Überwald: Lord Licorice's lives in a place that parodies it, the text even stating that his only friends are some "bitter chocolate bats".
  • Whammy: Even with this being a children's game, there were spaces the players tried to avoid. The rules for these spaces were as such:
    • Pre-2004: Landing on any space marked with a black dot was a "cavity," requiring that player to remain in that space until drawing a card matching the dotted space they were currently on. Because of the game's luck-of-the-draw design and other factors (i.e., how the cards were shuffled and how many players were playing), an unlucky player could conceivably remain stuck for the rest of the game while the other players eventually completed the game. Some editions of the game required the player to draw a card marked with two of the same color to become "unstuck"; as these cards were rarer, the player could be stuck for quite awhile.
    • 2004-later editions: The "cavity" spaces were replaced with spaces marked with a licorice stick. The Whammy here is far less severe: The player simply loses his next turn.
    • As drawing a card marked with the name of a location or character in the Candy Land could be a Golden Snitch if drawn early and was sent to a space close to the finish ... said card could also be a Whammy if the player was near the finish line – or in the very least, in the lead – and drew a card corresponding to a space near the beginning of the board, thereby falling all the way back behind the last-place contestant.
  • Winter Royal Lady: Queen/Princess Frostine, who lives near the Snow Flake Lake, wears a sparkly white-and-icy-blue dress, and has has the power to make sugary snowflakes.

This board game appears in the following shows:

  • Cory from Boy Meets World laments in one episode that he spent his Saturday night playing Candy Land with his sister, "and lost", as if losing a game of pure chance is more pathetic than winning it.
  • Nurse Jackie has the main character playing the game with little girls and a boy in "Heading North".
  • Played by Larry and Alfred in the VeggieTales episode "Larry-Boy and the Fib From Outer Space". Larry is stuck in the Molasses Swamp for at least 38 turns as Alfred is able to immediately advance all the way to Princess Lolly. (Amusingly, this almost certainly means Larry was originally ahead of Alfred.)
  • That '70s Show has Eric Forman stashing away money in a Candy Land box. It is later revealed that the gang hides a different kind of stash in the same box.
  • Shown in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode Parts: The Clonus Horror.
  • The webcomic Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures has Candy-Land Adventures appear in #1453 and #1460. It transforms this game into an RPG like Dungeons & Dragons, complete with rolling dice, fighting monsters, and arguing about the rules. Roles include Peppermint Paladin and Rogue of Red Hots.
  • Baby Blues pointed out that the game's Luck-Based Mission characteristics make it as hard to deliberately lose (i.e., to let a small child win) as it is to aspire to win yourself.
  • X-Play reviewed the 2000 version of the game once...during a game drought.
  • Katy Perry's music video "California Gurls" was heavily based with this. Only Hotter and Sexier.
  • A Get Fuzzy comic had Satchel using a "Candyland'' board in conjunction with a Ouija widget; and wondering why a ghost would pass through multiple dimensions to tell him "Gumdrop, Gumdrop, Lolly" when Bucky tells him he needs a Ouija board to make the widget work properly.
  • In the Animaniacs parody of The Seventh Seal, Death challenges the Warner siblings to a game of chess, but they don't know how to play it, so he settles for checkers instead. Dot eagerly asks if he has Uncle Wiggily or Candy Land, but being The Grim Reaper, he doesn't.
  • It is a Running Gag in Board James that Bad Luck Bootsy wants to play Candy Land (instead of whatever game the episode is about). He briefly gets his wish in the Season 3 finale, currently the series finale... in rather dark and bloody circumstances.