barrel of monkeys

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Fri May 21 17:53:06 UTC 2010

Sorry, I wasn't clear. The date was introduced in 2004. I am assuming
it's the same Wilson Gray.

> Subject:     Re: snakes and peas
> From:    Wilson Gray <hwgray at EARTHLINK.NET>
> Date:    Tue, 4 May 2004 12:43:21 -0400
> The game is actually published by Hasbro, Inc., which owns Milton
> Bradley. Hasbro's copyright dates to 1966, but Lakeside Toys of
> Minneapolis introduced Barrel of Monkeys in 1965. Presumably, Lakeside
> then sold the rights to the game to Hasbro in 1966. However, I have the
> feeling that I was aware of the saying even prior to that date. My
> earlier point, obviously poorly expressed, was that the existence of
> the game and its slogan, "What's more fun than a barrel of monkeys?",
> possibly helps to keep an otherwise meaningless expression alive.
> There's nothing inherently fun about real monkeys in a real barrel,
> whereas it's immediately obvious that real snakes writhing in a real
> barrel will be crooked.

Hasbro's copyright may have dated from 1966, but it was an assigned
copyright. Lakeside still produced the game in 1968, but sold the rights
some time later.


On 5/21/2010 1:32 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:
> I didn't attempt to supply a specific date.The war that I had in mind
> is WWII. "After The War," "During The War" became one of many
> catch-phrases that referenced "The War."
> -Wilson
> On Fri, May 21, 2010 at 4:46 AM, Victor Steinbok<aardvark66 at>  wrote:
>> I found Wilson's archived post about the game, but the expression
>> predates the game by quite some time--some 80 years, it seems. Wiki
>> lists the same date that Wilson had previously found (1965). The
>> inventors explicitly said that they got the name from the expression,
>> not the other way around. I am not sure which War Wilson was referring
>> to. So, unfortunately, we still don't have the origin of the phrase,
>> although some bits have come more clearly into view.
>> There had been some guesses that "barrel of monkeys" had been derived
>> from "barrel of fun" and "wagonload of monkeys". Although this is true
>> of the game--according to lore, the game designers initially were going
>> to name the game "Barrel of fun", but ran into trademark problems--it's
>> highly doubtful of the original phrase.

The American Dialect Society -

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