9 Outdoor Games Today’s Kids Probably Don’t Know How to Play

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Once upon a time, outdoor play was just a natural part of childhood. Of course, back then it wasn’t so much a matter of mom and dad knowing that fresh air, exercise, and social interaction were vital to both the physical and intellectual development of a child as much as it was getting us kids out of their hair for a few hours.

Going outside and jumping rope or playing kick the can with other kids in the neighborhood used to be as automatic as eating breakfast. Today, however, these activities are such an anomaly that childhood developmental experts have given them an official technical name—Unstructured Play—and are warning parents that it is becoming as archaic as cursive handwriting and clapping erasers after school. How many of these games did you play?

1. HOPSCOTCH

Though there's an abundance of colored sidewalk chalk available for sale still today, kids rarely use it to draw a hopscotch grid. Back in the day, we usually had a choice of traditional white or maybe yellow chalk (often palmed from the blackboard ledge when the teacher wasn’t looking) with which to draw the playing field. Part of the fun of the game was the search for the “perfect” throwing stone (at least one flat side was preferred to avoid unnecessary bounce). Hopscotch wasn’t always strictly a kids’ game; Roman soldiers used to play the game in full armor as a military exercise.

2. KICK THE CAN

This game is sort of a hybrid of hide-and-seek and tag, but instead of actually touching the players, “It” must spot them and jump over the can (or bucket or other handy receptacle) while calling them out: “Over the can on Sandy—behind the big evergreen in Kosnik’s front yard!” If properly identified, that person was “out”. However, while It's back was turned, all the hidden players conspired to quietly run over to the can and kick it before being noticed. Much like flashlight tag, kick the can required players to run and hide all over the immediate neighborhood without regard for private property, which may very well have led to the “Hey you kids, get off of my lawn!” trope

3. JUMP ROPE


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The advantage to jump rope was that it could either be a solitary activity or played with an unlimited number of people. All that was necessary was a length of rope (or something rope-like; in a pinch, even an electric extension cord would suffice). There were an abundance of skill games that every kid knew, all of which had their own “chant”. For example, “High, low, jolly, pepper” required the jumper to first skip over the rope at a level several inches above the ground, then skip in a crouched position when the rope was lowered, then spin in place while jumping, and lastly trying to keep up while the rope was twirled in double-time. Tripping up meant losing your turn and it was time for the next player to see how many choruses of the song he or she could get through before stumbling.

4. CHINESE JUMP ROPE

Chinese jump rope did originate in China, and there is jumping involved, but the “rope” is a misnomer. The equipment involved was either an official industrial-strength elastic band sold in drug and toy stores every summer in the 1960s as a “Chinese jump rope” or an extra-long circle of thick rubber bands tied together. The two “ends” held the stretched band in place around their ankles, and the jumper was required to perform a series of prescribed maneuvers inside and outside of the band before progressing to the next level.

5. JACKS


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Jacks is another game that dates back to ancient times, although in 400 BCE the players used the tiny ankle bones of sheep instead of the six-pointed metal pieces that were included with a red rubber ball in every birthday party favor bag in the 1950s and '60s. Some of us who never advanced past “twosies” didn’t find much enjoyment in a game of jacks, but it was allegedly a great exercise in hand-eye coordination.

6. FOUR SQUARE

The rules for four square varied depending upon your locale; some neighborhoods had more stringent rules and scoring systems than the more casual, laissez-faire “if the ball bounces twice in a square or hits a line you’re out” version of the game. In either case, the only necessities for play were a playground ball and some pavement. If you didn’t have chalk to outline the playing field, the tar lines in your driveway or cracks in the sidewalk would suffice.

7. RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT

Red light, green light required a minimum of three players, but there was no maximum. And the actual play involved something kids love—running as fast as they could when the “Traffic Light’ turned his or her back and announced “green light!” When the Traffic Light did an about-face and called out “red light!,” however, everyone was required to freeze in place, and anyone caught moving had to return to the starting line.

8. TAG


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There were several dozen variations of  tag, from frozen tag to TV tag to shadow tag. Flashlight tag was always a favorite, mainly because it was played after dark and had that extra element of spookiness and suspense as you ran through the neighborhood hiding in sheds and ducking around hedges. Some game strategies were hard-learned, such as not running behind the garage of a homeowner in the midst of serious remodeling. (You might step on a board with a 3 ¼” nail protruding from it that pierces right through your sneaker and requires a trip to the ER and a tetanus shot. Just sayin’.)

9. RED ROVER

Red Rover was the ideal playground game because more players made for better game play. Two teams of players joined hands and faced each other on opposite sides of the field. The captain of each team took turns summoning a player from the opposite side: “Red Rover, Red Rover, let Jack come over!” Jack would then have to run at top speed and try to break through the joined hands of the opposing team. Of course, prior to his sprint, Jack would have properly vetted the rival team and determined which players might have the weakest grip. If Jack didn’t manage to break through, he had to join the opposing team. However, if he did break through the chain, he not only got to return to his own team, but he was also allowed to take one of those weak link players back with him. The amount of rough-housing required for this game almost guarantees that would be banned from today’s sanctioned playground activities.

11 Surprising Facts About Prince

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BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images

It was three years ago today that legendary, genre-bending rocker Prince died at the age of 57. In addition to being a musical pioneer, the Minneapolis native dabbled in filmmaking, most successfully with 1984’s Purple Rain. While most people know about the singer’s infamous name change, here are 10 things you might not have known about the artist formerly known as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.

1. His real name was Prince.

Born to two musical parents on June 7, 1958, Prince Rogers Nelson was named after his father's jazz combo.

2. He was a Jehovah's Witness.

Baptized in 2001, Prince was a devout Jehovah's Witness; he even went door-to-door. In October 2003, a woman in Eden Prairie, Minnesota opened her door to discover the famously shy artist and his bassist, former Sly and the Family Stone member Larry Graham, standing in front of her home. "My first thought is ‘Cool, cool, cool. He wants to use my house for a set. I’m glad! Demolish the whole thing! Start over!,'" the woman told The Star Tribune. "Then they start in on this Jehovah’s Witnesses stuff. I said, ‘You know what? You’ve walked into a Jewish household, and this is not something I’m interested in.’ He says, 'Can I just finish?' Then the other guy, Larry Graham, gets out his little Bible and starts reading scriptures about being Jewish and the land of Israel."

3. He wrote a lot of songs for other artists.

In addition to penning several hundred songs for himself, Prince also composed music for other artists, including "Manic Monday" for the Bangles, "I Feel For You" for Chaka Khan, and "Nothing Compares 2 U" for Sinéad O'Connor.

4. His symbol actually had a name.


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Even though the whole world referred to him as either "The Artist" or "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince," that weird symbol Prince used was actually known as "Love Symbol #2." It was copyrighted in 1997, but when Prince's contract with Warner Bros. expired at midnight on December 31, 1999, he announced that he was reclaiming his given name.

5. In 2017, Pantone gave him his own color.

A little over a year after Prince's death, global color authority Pantone created a royal shade of purple in honor of him, in conjunction with the late singer's estate. Appropriately, it is known as Love Symbol #2. The color was inspired by a Yamaha piano the musician was planning to take on tour with him. “The color purple was synonymous with who Prince was and will always be," Troy Carter, an advisor to Prince's estate, said. "This is an incredible way for his legacy to live on forever."

6. His sister sued him.

In 1987, Prince's half-sister, Lorna Nelson, sued him, claiming that she had written the lyrics to "U Got the Look," a song from "Sign '☮' the Times" that features pop artist Sheena Easton. In 1989, the court sided with Prince.

7. He ticked off a vice president's wife.

In 1984, after purchasing the Purple Rain soundtrack for her then-11-year-old daughter, Tipper Gore—ex-wife of former vice president Al Gore—became enraged over the explicit lyrics of "Darling Nikki," a song that references masturbation and other graphic sex acts. Gore felt that there should be some sort of warning on the label and in 1985 formed the Parents Music Resource Center, which pressured the recording industry to adopt a ratings system similar to the one employed in Hollywood. To Prince's credit, he didn't oppose the label system and became one of the first artists to release a "clean" version of explicit albums.

8. Prince took a promotional tip from Willy Wonka.

In 2006, Universal hid 14 purple tickets—seven in the U.S. and seven internationally—inside Prince's album, 3121. Fans who found a purple ticket were invited to attend a private performance at Prince's Los Angeles home.

9. He simultaneously held the number one spots for film, single, and album.

During the week of July 27, 1984, Prince's film Purple Rain hit number one at the box office. That same week, the film's soundtrack was the best-selling album and "When Doves Cry" was holding the top spot for singles.

10. He screwed up on SNL.

During Prince's first appearance on Saturday Night Live, he performed the song "Partyup" and sang the lyric, "Fightin' war is a such a f*ing bore." It went unnoticed at the time, but in the closing segment, Charles Rocket clearly said, "I'd like to know who the f* did it." This was the only episode of SNL where the f-bomb was dropped twice.

11. He scrapped an album released after having "a spiritual epiphany."

In 1987, Prince was due to release "The Black Album." However, just days before it was scheduled to drop, Prince scrapped the whole thing, calling it "dark and immortal." The musician claimed to have reached this decision following "a spiritual epiphany." Some reports say that it was actually an early experience with drug ecstasy, while others suggested The Artist just knew it would flop.

This story has been updated for 2019.

17 Delicious Facts About Peeps

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You know whether you prefer chicks to bunnies, fresh to stale, or plain to chocolate-covered. But there’s a lot you may not know about Peeps, everyone’s favorite (non-chocolate) Easter candy.

1. It used to take 27 hours to make a Peep.

A candy Peep being made
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That was in 1953, when Sam Born acquired the Rodda Candy Company and its line of marshmallow chicks. Back then, each chick was handmade with a pastry tube. Just Born quickly set about automating the process, so that it now takes just six minutes to make a Peep.

2. An average of 5.5 million Peeps are made every day.

Peeps candies being made
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All of them at the Just Born factory in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In one year, the company makes enough peeps to circle the earth—twice!

3. Yellow chicks are the original Peep, and still the favorite.

Boxes of yellow chick Peeps
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Yellow bunnies are the second most popular color/shape combination. Pink is the second best-selling color.

4. The recipe has stayed pretty much the same.

Cooking up a batch of Peeps
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The recipe begins with a boiling batch of granulated sugar, liquid sugar, and corn syrup, to which gelatin and vanilla extract are later added. 

5. The equipment has also (mostly) stayed the same.

Peeps candies being made
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Since Just Born turned Peeps-making into an automated process, the chicks have been carefully formed by a top-secret machine known as The Depositor. Created by Sam Born’s son, Bob, The Depositor could manufacture six rows of five Peeps apiece in a fraction of the time it took workers to form them by hand. And that same machine that Bob built has been keeping the Peeps flowing ever since. Until rather recently …

In 2014, the company announced that it was planning to renovate its manufacturing plant, including The Depositor. “It’s a little sad,” vice president of sales and marketing Matthew Pye told Candy Industry Magazine at the time. “Bob Born made it from scratch in 1954 and it allowed us to distribute and grow the brand nationally." 

6. The updated equipment means new Peeps innovations could be coming.

Making Peeps at the Just Born factory
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“The investment in our marshmallow making process will allow for more efficiency, more consistency, improved quality, and additional innovation capabilities,” co-CEO Ross Born told Candy Industry magazine about the new depositor, which will be able to produce a wider variety of Peeps in all sizes. “The [old] Peeps line did one thing and one thing very well—cranking out chicks day in and day out. Five clusters, just in different colors,” Born said.

7. Peeps used to have wings.

They were clipped in 1955, two years after the first marshmallow chicks hatched, to give the candy a sleeker, more “modern” look.

8. The eyes are the final touch.

A close up of a yellow chick Peep
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The final flourish for all of these squishy balls of sweetness is adding the eyes, which are made of carnauba—a non-toxic edible wax (that is also found in some shoe polishes and car waxes, plus many other candies).

9. Peeps may be destructible, but their eyes are not.

Making Peeps at the Just Born factory
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In 1999, a pair of scientists at Emory University—dubbed “Peeps Investigators”—decided to test the theory that Peeps are an indestructible food. In addition to a microwave, the pair tested the candy’s vulnerability to tap water, boiling water, acetone, and sulfuric acid (they survived them all). When they upped the ante with some Phenol, the only things that didn’t disappear were the eyes. 

10. They really are everyone's favorite non-chocolate Easter candy.

For more than 20 years now, no other non-chocolate Easter candy has been able to compete with the power of Peeps. With more than 1.5 billion of them consumed each spring, Peeps have topped the list of most popular Easter treats for more than two decades.

11. There are sugar-free Peeps.

Counterintuitive, we know. But in 2007, the first line of sugar-free Peeps hit store shelves.

12. There are also chocolate-covered Peeps.

Chocolate-covered Peeps hit the market in 2010. Today there’s a full line of them for every occasion.

13. Peeps come in a variety of flavors.

Color and shape (i.e. yellow chick) are no longer the only ways to categorize a Peep. They now come in an array of flavors, including fruit punch, sour watermelon, lemon sherbet, blueberry, and pancakes and syrup.

14. Peeps lip balm is a thing.

Yep.

15. On New Year's Eve, a giant Peep is dropped in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.


PEEPS®

The drop is done with a traditional chick that flashes different colors at midnight.

16. Believe it or not, Peeps are not Just Born's best-selling brand.

That honor belongs to Mike and Ike. (Sorry, Peepsters.)

17. They're a boon to a creativity.

Blue chick Peeps
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All over the country, Peeps have become the preferred media for a number of highly anticipated annual art contests. (You can check out some of the coolest creations from Westminster, Maryland's PEEPshow here.)

Updated for 2019.

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