Scrabble follows the pattern of a lot of board games. Invented by a creative mind. Failed to be sold to a major manufacturer. Creator keeps at it, gets a lucky break. Game becomes popular.
In the case of Scrabble, the inventor was a man named Alfred M. Butts, who meticulously studied the distribution of letters in the New York Times and Saturday Evening Post to determine their relative frequency of use. He called his game “Criss-Crosswords.” Butts didn’t sell many sets, but one of his customers believed in the game, and bought it from Butts. His name was James Brunot, and he changed the game’s name to “Scrabble.”
Brunot struggled, but the break he looked for came (according to legend) when the president of Macy’s played the game while on vacation. He was surprised, upon returning to his store, to find that Scrabble wasn’t on its shelves. He placed a large order, and within a year “everybody had to have one.” It’s said that today there’s a Scrabble game in one of every three American households.
Now you can get dozens of Scrabble-related products. Card games, PC games, pocket games, Upwords. There’s even a Scrabble app for the iPhone.
My mother loved Scrabble, so we took it with us on vacations during my childhood. On one memorable vacation, someone set the game on the roof of the car, and forgot it. We trailed wood tiles for hundreds of yards before we realized our mistake…