They came. They saw. They twisted.
If you were watching Breakfast Television Friday morning you were witness to an attempt at history. The BT crew gathered bright and early at the Rogers Centre to try and break a Guinness Book of World Records mark for the most people playing Twister at one time.
More than 2,000 people showed up to try and “Bend It Like Frankish”. Twister game pads dotted the field at the sports stadium, with everyone bending over backwards to shatter the record.
Age didn’t seem to be a factor. There were the very young – who may barely know what Twister is; the middle aged – who grew up with the game in the 60s.; and the slightly older folks – who don’t fold over as well as they used to but gave it the old college try. Throw in a few fitness buff and the odd contortionist and you had a recipe for record breaking.
Did they twist the old Twister mark? “Unfortunately, we have sad news,” host Kevin Frankish intoned at the end of the morning. “We did not quite make the record here.” They needed 4,161 to shatter the previous milestone. They had just over 2,000.
But they had something else as well that will never show up in any book – an incredible amount of fun. “Guinness records are not easy to beat, and this is a particularly challenging record,” confirms the famous tome’s official rep, Carey Low, as he watched it all unfold in the hours when most of us are concentrating on twisting ourselves back to life instead twisting our back and limbs. “I mean it’s been around for 20 years.”
Still, for those who took part and for those who just watched, it wasn’t a total loss. BT still holds one Guinness Record that may never be shattered – the most people performing the longest “Rockette”-like kick line, set on Guinness Record Day last year.
“You know what? It’s a disappointment,” admits Kevin. “But Jennifer [Valentyne] said it best. She said ‘I know we didn’t make it, but you know what? We had a lot of fun.’ And with all those bodies in all those weird places, that’s the best position of all.
Twisting Into History
So where did the most physical of all board games come from? There are disputes about its true origin, but the best story appears to rest with a man named Reyn Guyer and, incredibly, Johnny Carson.
In 1965, Guyer was running his family’s promotional sales firm when a Wisconsin shoe polish company called and asked for some kind of giveaway they could give to people who sent in a buck and a boxtop. The owner thought long and hard about shoes and the feet that went with them, and eventually came up with the concept of using coloured patches that would stick on kids’ feet and let them walk around on a 4X6 mat.
But as he explored the concept further, he suddenly realized he’d stumbled on the perfect prototype for a new game. He had his employees create the first example of a new product he would eventually call “The Pretzel.”
But it wouldn’t remain under that name for long. When game maker Milton Bradley got wind of it, they purchased the rights and much to Guyer’s dismay, renamed it “Twister”. The game hit the shelves amid much hype – and promptly died.
It might have joined that long line of toy flops, if fate – and a famous star – hadn’t intervened. On May 3, 1966, Johnny Carson had the sexy Eva Gabor on the Tonight Show and the duo decided to play Twister in front of an audience of millions.
It didn’t take North Americans long to see the sexual connotations of the nascent game, as Carson’s hands, feet and legs went all over some of his guest’s more private regions. The next day, sales of the game took off and they’ve never really stopped. Twister sold three million copies in its first year and even in an era of computers and video games, it’s still a best seller in toy stores around the world.