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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Bananagrams Is the New Scrabble

As the name suggests, players put together as many words as possible from a set number of letters, just like forming anagrams.



An addicting phenomenon is sweeping the nation, and chances are you may have already been under its influence at least once. This new hit is Bananagrams, where anyone who can spell can play, regardless of his or her vocabulary. It is a simple yet addictive word-building game that uses your mental dexterity and creativity to form words out of scattered letters. But don’t let its Scrabble-like appearance fool you. This is a contest of speed, not point-count.

In 2005, Rhode Island native Abraham Nathanson created the game when he grew frustrated with the slow pace of Scrabble. He wanted to invent “an anagram game so fast, it’ll drive you bananas.” He tested the game on his family, and his wife designed the hallmark banana-shaped pouch. In 2006 they sold the 50 prototype copies, half to the London Toy Fair, the other half to the U.S. The game has been growing in popularity ever since, its aficionados ranging from grade school kids to adults. The Toy Industry Association awarded Bananagrams “Game of the Year” in 2009, and over 3 million have been sold.

As the name suggests, players put together as many words as possible from a set number of letters, just like forming anagrams. There is a catch, however, for you Scrabble-veterans and anagramists who may think that competing in this game will spell easy victory. Winning isn’t decided by the words you can spell, or by the difficulty of composing them. Instead, the victor is the first person who successfully uses up the last distributed letter piece from the bunch.

The breakdown: Place all 144 tiles face down in the center of the table. This is called the “bunch.” After shuffling, each player grabs a number of tiles determined by the number of players present. As soon as someone shouts “Split!” the race begins, and the players turn their tiles over to form words in a Scrabble- or crossword-like grid. Once a player has connected all of their pre-distributed tiles, he or she yells “Peel!” and every player must draw another tile. If you don’t like the tile you picked up, you can holler “Dump!”, discard the tile back in the bunch and pick up three more tiles.

This process is repeated until there are fewer tiles than there are players. The first player to use all of his or her tiles exclaims “Bananas!” and the words must be examined for accuracy and legitimacy. If any word in the player’s “hand” is illegal, that player is a “rotten banana” and must discard all of his or her tiles back into the bunch. The game then continues as before until a winner is decided.

Bananagrams is the perfect way to peel out of a routine day and have some fun. Quit monkeying around; invite your friends and family and play!