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Where does Jenga originate from?
Who had ever thought these wooden blocks would be one of the legendary games that could remain relevant even up to this day? Everybody knows what Jenga is and how to Jenga!
The origin of Jenga came from Leslie Scott’s stay in Ghana with her family. Her family’s immigration to the African continent paved the way for the game Jenga to be born.
It started as a family game with her siblings using the cuts of hardwood from a nearby sawmill. Ghana is a country blessed with a lot of hardwoods. Scoot went to Oxford in England in her 20’s and bringing with her a couple of sets of those wooden blocks.
She introduced playing the game to her friends that became popular that she got to be invited to a lot of parties. Thanks to her wonderful wooden blocks she thought of!
There were slight differences in the weight, size, and feel of the woodblocks in those days that gave it a unique twist even in its earliest version. Some came smoother or lighter and easier to push out but players generally won’t be aware until they move a block.
With this inspiration, Scott knew she has to keep that quality even if she starts selling them. With no background in the toy business, she started producing her first 100 sets of the wooden blocks she collaborated with a cabinet maker and she eventually named Jenga which means to build in Swahili that means to build.
The use of a machining process was responsible for those tiny but essential imperfections into the wood.
When did Jenga start to be the ultimate challenge?
A more polished version of Jenga came out in 1980 carrying the tagline, the perpetual challenge. It’s only after Hasbro bought the rights to the game that they changed its tagline to, the ultimate challenge.
Hasbro, a toy giant producer even wanted to change its original name Jenga because no one in America would know what it meant. Leslie stood her ground and fought that it maintain its name.
The first shown commercials of Jenga used it to capitalize on its strange name.
Watch one of the commercials of Jenga from the ’80s.
Scott has stressed that the uniqueness of the word in the Western world made the game more interesting and marketable. The earlier versions of the game had 48 blocks but decided on 54. Scott said that there isn’t any logical and scientific reason to it and she said that it might be because 54 is a multiple of 18, a favorite number of hers.
Gone were the days that it was hard to convince bank managers to lend her start-up money for Jenga. She remembers telling them for them to approve a loan that she’s going to make my fortune from those bunch of wooden blocks. It did turn out right as Jenga would stay on to give fun and entertainment to people forever.
Jenga had been a part of many childhoods that continue to be carried on to adulthood. It’s for everyone. You’ll never outgrow your love for Jenga and that’s where it lies its strength.
It would continue to remain one of the most enjoyable, therapeutic, and educational games of all time.
It’s amazing for kids, adults, and the whole family that everyone never fails to get into it tremendously and cheer each other on while at play!
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