3 May: When ‘Twister’ Went Viral

Eva Gabor’s appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson on May 3rd, 1966 introduced the party game ‘Twister’ to an appreciative nation. 

Previously considered too racy for toy distributors, who nicknamed it ‘sex in a box’, the game went on to sell an astonishing three million copies in that year alone. But it was also greeted with moral panic, following news reports that teenagers were having naked Twister parties.

In this episode, Olly, Rebecca and Arion reveal the original names for the iconic game, consider the toy’s induction into the US National Toy Hall of Fame – and ponder the surprising success of the Tonight Show spot, given that it was in black and white…

Further reading:

• The Tonight Show clip has been lost to history – but here’s Merv Griffin and the band having a go a few days later:

• Twister’s induction into the US National Toy Hall of Fame: https://www.toyhalloffame.org/toys/twister

• Twister’s creators, Reyn Guyer and Mel Taft, on how Eva Gabor helped them hit the big time: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/feb/24/how-we-made-twister