Ms Clark, at the Kitchen Table, with a Blog

They staged the musical “Clue” in my little town recently. If you’re not familiar, it’s a play based on the board game. It has snappy numbers like “Corridors and Halls,” “She Hasn’t Got a Clue,” and “A Conservatory is a Conservative Place for a Contract Killing.”

Okay, I just made up that last one.

I didn’t see it this time, but my kids were in the pit orchestra when they performed it at their high school. The musical is silly fun, and a bit complicated (and light on plot) because it’s interactive. The audience selects the weapon, room, and suspect cards, so there are over 200 possible endings the cast needs to know and be able to react to. It is, as you can imagine, not to everyone’s taste.

The board game, on the other hand, has been popular for more than 70 years. Jake Rossen made a listicle for Mental Floss about it, which had some facts I already knew, and a few I didn’t.

For instance, I knew the game had been developed in Britain during WWII to help overcome boredom while waiting out air raids, and that it was originally called Cluedo, which was also the name of the long-running British television series based on it.

But I didn’t know that Colonel Mustard was originally called Colonel Yellow, as all the characters were named after colors. But they wisely concluded that Colonel Yellow was not a good name for a military man.

And speaking of the military, Britain’s Mi9 slipped contraband maps and escape tools into board games sent to POW camps. So fitting, eh?

In the original patent, the weapons were an ax, cudgel, bomb, rope, dagger, revolver, hypodermic needle, poison, and fireplace poker.

In 2008, they updated the game. There was now a spa and home theater, Colonel Mustard became a football hero, and Professor Plum a dotcom billionaire. And you could now kill them with a trophy, a baseball bat, and an ax. I find it interesting that in their update, they went back to an original weapon. (Everything is so retro these days, if I wait long enough, maybe I’ll be hip too.)

In 2016, they permanently killed, er, retired, Mrs White and replaced her with scientist Dr Orchid.

Anthony Pratt, the creator, never made much money from his creation. In the 1960s his patent ran out so he didn’t receive royalties any longer. He hadn’t realized the game had become so popular in the United States. But even when he found out, he simply shrugged and pointed out how much fun people had with it over the years. A lesser man would have picked up one of those cudgels, handed Miss Scarlet a baseball bat, and taken the secret passage to the conservatory to seek vengeance.

Clue was a popular game in our household. As a kid I had an intricate and specific way to keep track of clues, heavy on secret symbols to thwart any roaming eyes. And as an adult, I made the pictured swag notepads from clue sheets to hand out at conferences one year. They were very popular, making me realize just how iconic that game is.

What about you? Did you play? Did you win? Which character did you always want to be?

45 thoughts on “Ms Clark, at the Kitchen Table, with a Blog

    1. Clue is so wonderful! I played it a lot as a kid. I rarely won because I was too impatient to let the game progress and gather enough clues. Ah well, I still think it was Professor Plum in the Conservatory with the rope.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. It WAS Professor Plum in the Conservatory with the rope, JC! I remember once we were playing and had only made it around to all the players once. As a joke, I decided to accuse on my second turn, just randomly picking …. AND I WAS RIGHT! It was hilarious and people thought I was a genius.

        Liked by 4 people

  1. I used to love Clue! I haven’t played it in years though and had no idea about the history. Thank you for sharing! And I can’t remember if I had a favorite character, but I’m pretty sure I won my fair share of games.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. 🤣🤣🤣 Sorry, but I found the perfect red dress because I wanted to be Miss Scarlet. Of course, it got shredded to tatters by my ex-hubby thinking I bought it to go slumming! 🤦‍♀️

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Becky, I always thought Miss Scarlet was a Southern Belle that found she was great at acting! My brother said she was a “lady-of-the-night!” 😲🤷‍♀️🤣

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  2. I used to love playing Clue as a kid!
    Gosh, I can’t remember which character I wanted to be, and no, I usually did not win.
    My detective skills were in their infancy back then, I guess.

    Thanks for sharing the history of the game, and that interactive play is a hoot!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I wonder how you’d do as an adult, Grace, since you must be one stellar detective by now! How do you do with guessing the endings to books? Do you even try, or do you let the story wash over you so you don’t spoil the ending for yourself?

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Becky,
        I do pretty well at guessing the endings to mysteries.
        I am rarely surprised/totally wrong about the culprit’s ID, so I suppose I would do much better at Clue if I played now.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. The game of Clue was manufactured by Parker Brothers in my home town of Salem, Massachusetts. My dad, Arthur Phelps, was foreman of the box department there. (I even met the founder, Mr. George Parker when I was a little girl.) Of course I played many of the wonderful Parker games and Clue was a favorite. The game plays an important part in “Murder, Take Two,” the 10th book in my Witch City Mystery series. (Shameless self promotion!)

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Because daddy worked there I had the run of the place. I got to watch the girls cutting out the wonderful Pastime Puzzles and watch the gameboard graphics pass over the hot glue and apply to the boards. I still love factories. When I was writing non-fiction I toured the Whiting and Davis factory and the Buxton Leather factory. for articles.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Classic Clue is still my favorite board game with Monopoly & Sorry close behind. We visited Salem in the mid-80’s and I took a picture of the Parker Brothers sign on a building there. I had the late 1980’s Clue Mansion Edition and it was bigger but not better. I can’t wait to work my way to “Murder, Take Two”, to see how it is involved!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ohmygosh, Emily! I haven’t thought about Sorry in years! My sister, brother and I played it constantly as kids. Then when I had kids of my own, we sat down to play it and I was appalled at how mean it was! LOL I don’t think I’ve played it since. It’s interesting you call it “Classic Clue.” When I lived in England I bought a London-themed Monopoly game which is what we always play around here. I think of it as “Classic Monopoly” which, of course, it really isn’t!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. A friend’s cousin was a suspect in a 1980s version of Clue! I got together with her and another friend and we played it last year. I wrote a whole post about it but sadly deleted the photos in case there was any copyright question regarding me taking pix of the game. But it was so much fun to play it again. I’m less about the characters and all about the conservatory because when my family moved to Scarsdale, I had a friend whose house actually HAD a conservatory and that fascinated me.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. I played Clue as a very young child, but soon became bored with it. But later on, I found a game called Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective. I see it has since morphed into a board game (I just ordered a copy for Christmas!), but the earliest edition contained only a rule book, copies of the London Times for various days, and a book of clues the players could access by visiting various sites throughout London. It was Clue on steroids, and I loved it. I still have my original copy after some 50 years, but the box has gotten lost.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I didn’t play Clue as a kid, although I’d heard of it. It was only when I got older that I actually sat down to play, and in the beginning, I was bewildered about how to make the best system to keep track of clues.

    My fave character was/is Miss Scarlet, but I still have a soft spot for Mrs. White as well. (I’ve got to see that Clue musical!)

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Loved playing Clue as a kid! And I’m with you on the secret passage, Becky. My dream house would have a secret passage, or AT LEAST, a secret room!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I always had to be Col. Mustard when we played as kids, because yellow was (and still is) my favorite color. (And I’ve always loved the condiment, as well.) But our game–from the early ’60s–did not have a hypo or poison bottle as weapons; too bad!

    Haven’t played in years, and now I’m wondering what happened to that game we had…

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I have always loved Clue! I never had the game until adulthood. Amazingly, my grandmother and I played “detective games” very similar to the game using the novels we had read in the past (Agatha Christie.) When I played Clue, I had such fond memories of our “detective games”; naturally, I won quite often!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I loooooooooooooove Clue!! I also love the movie, but that’s another story for another day.

    I didn’t have a favorite character, but I would always angle to get myself into a room with a secret passage. It was the next best thing to having one of my own!

    Liked by 1 person

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