A History Lesson With Booze ®

Monopoly Passes Go

Find out the history of Monopoly -- a game initially invented to educate players about corrupt, greedy business tycoons -- then sip a fizzy drink while building your real estate empire.

Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

The game about becoming a rich landlord was invented by a woman… who hated rich landlords.

Her name was Elizabeth McGee. And in 1904, she patented a board game in which players bought and sold property. Her goal? To educate people. She figured it would demonstrate how land monopolies made the owners rich and left renters broke. She called it “The Landlord’s Game.”

At first, McGee published the game herself. But in 1910, she offered it to Parker Brothers. They declined. “Too educational,” they said. And they were kinda right! Because meanwhile, actual economics professors discovered the game and had students play it in class.

Those students taught the game to friends, using home-made boards. Soon it spread around the East Coast. Folks added their own rules. They renamed the game’s make-believe parcels of land after streets in their hometowns. And in 1933, it reached Philadelphia. Where an unemployed salesman named Charles Darrow played it… and got a big idea.

Darrow manufactured his own version of the game. He sold thousands of ’em in Philly department stores — people loved it! And when Parker Brothers heard about that, they agreed to market “Monopoly.” Darrow’s new name for the game they’d turned down 25 years earlier.

At the time, the company thought Darrow was the sole inventor. But when they found McGee’s patents, they had to strike a deal. As payment for not suing them, they gave her $500 bucks… and published three of her games. None did as well as “Monopoly,” though. It made Charles Darrow a millionaire.

The Boardwalk Fizz

Photo: Elana Lepkowski, stirandstrain.com
Photo: Elana Lepkowski, stirandstrain.com

Gamely invented by Demetri Karessis, bartender at the venerable Dock’s Oyster House in Atlantic City, NJ.

1 lemon
1 1/2 oz. Ransom Old Tom Gin(brown gin)
1 egg white
Simple syrup to taste
3 dashes orange bitters

Shake ingredients together, dry, to get a good froth. Then add ice. Shake some more, strain into a glass, and add a splash of champagne for a bit of Park Place class. Finish with a few dashes of bitters.