7 Facts About Hungry Hungry Hippos

Hasbro via Amazon
Hasbro via Amazon

For more than 40 years, young tabletop game enthusiasts have engaged in spirited competition involving four plastic hippos and their insatiable appetite for marbles. In Hungry Hungry Hippos, players hover over a proving ground full of 20 plastic balls. Using a lever, they open and close the mouths of the hippos until the marbles are gone. The hippo with the most marbles at the end is the winner. The Hasbro game is a lesson in hand-eye coordination, tolerance for a lot of racket, and an exercise in the benefits of gluttony. Check out a few things you might not know about this enduring favorite.

1. Hungry Hungry Hippos was brought to the U.S. by a World War II veteran.

As a boy, Fred Kroll knew he wanted to be in the toy business. His father manufactured cardboard games that Kroll would peddle in and around New York City. After a stint in the U.S. Army during World War II, Kroll went to work as a salesman for the Pressman Toy Corporation. He later discovered Hungry Hungry Hippos in Japan. Kroll licensed the international rights to the game from the Agatsuma company in Tokyo. It became a huge seller. After selling those rights to Hasbro, Kroll—who died in 2003—maintained that the game’s royalties were enough to live on.

2. The hippos in Hungry Hungry Hippos had names.

When Hungry Hungry Hippos debuted under the Milton Bradley label in 1978, each of the four marble-gobbling hippos had names. Lizzie Hippo was the purple one; the orange one was Henry Hippo; Home Hippo was green; and Harry Hippo was yellow. Later versions changed the colors, the names, or both.

3. There’s a kid-sized version of Hungry Hungry Hippos.

In 2018, child vehicle brand Kid Trax partnered with Hasbro to launch a series of foot-powered ride-ons named the Hungry Hungry Hippos 3-in-1 Activity Rider. The cars are shaped like the hippos, with the mouths moving up and down just like the game to allow kids to “eat” the included balls. While this sounds like a fun time for anyone, the vehicles are only suitable for kids ages 3 and under.

4. There’s also a human version of Hungry Hungry Hippos.

Some communities have taken to ice rinks to play a modified version of Hungry Hungry Hippos by propelling humans around the surface. Using baskets, they try to “eat” as many balls as possible. The Grand Rapids Snow Days in Grand Rapids, Michigan hosted an event in 2017. A version is also promoted at the DC Wharf Ice Rink in Washington, D.C.

5. There’s a Guinness World Record for completing Hungry Hungry Hippos.

In 2018, Manchester United soccer player Axel Tuanzebe set the Guinness World Record for the fastest game of Hungry Hungry Hippos ever completed. Tuanzebe gobbled up all 20 marbles in an official time of 17.37 seconds.

6. There’s a Hungry Hungry Hippos world championship.

For players with exceptional hippo prowess, the Gen Con tabletop gaming convention in Indiana hosts a showdown for bragging rights. The Hungry Hungry Hippos World Championship has been held annually since 2015 and invites players aged 6 and over to compete. In 2016, more than 100 players vied for the title of hungriest hippo. The winner received a hippo mounted on a plaque.

7. Hungry Hungry Hippos might be a movie. Someday.

In 2012, Hasbro announced that the Emmett/Furla production company had entered into an agreement to produce feature films versions of several notable Hasbro properties, including Monopoly, a British toy line called Action Man, and Hungry Hungry Hippos. Presumably a giant-animal-on-a-rampage scenario, the film has yet to enter production.

Oscar Mayer Is Renting Out the Wienermobile on Airbnb For Overnight Stays

Airbnb
Airbnb

Oscar Mayer is about to make all of your hot dog dreams come true. To celebrate National Hot Dog Day (today), the meat-industry titan has listed its legendary Wienermobile on Airbnb for overnight stays. Mark your calendars for July 24, when reservation opportunities will go live throughout the day, with prices starting at $136 per night.

Oscar Mayer Wienermobile on Airbnb
Airbnb

The 27-foot-long locomotive hot dog, parked in Chicago, can accommodate two people and includes a sofa bed, sitting area, and outdoor space with a bathroom and “hot dog picnic zone” where you can lounge in Adirondack chairs while enjoying a savory snack. The 'mobile will also be packed with all the hot dog amenities you didn’t know you needed: Highlights include a mini fridge stocked with hot dogs and Chicago-style fixings, a custom Wienermobile art piece by Chicago artist Laura Kiro, and an Oscar Mayer roller grill that you get to keep forever. And that’s not the only souvenir: each guest will also receive a welcome kit with as-yet-unidentified “hot dog-inspired accessories.”

Other features include air conditioning, free parking, breakfast, a hair dryer, and the essentials: towels, bed sheets, soap, shampoo, and toilet paper.

Interior of Wienermobile on Airbnb
Airbnb

Interior of Wienermobile on Airbnb
Airbnb

The booking dates overlap with Chicago’s famed Grant Park music festival Lollapalooza, which takes place from August 1 through 4. The lineup this year includes Ariana Grande, Childish Gambino, Tame Impala, The Strokes, and Kacey Musgraves, to name a few. What better way to stay nourished and well-rested after a musical marathon than in a cozy, oblong automobile filled with meat?

If you can't book a Wienermobile getaway, you can still celebrate July as National Hot Dog Month by hosting your own hot dog picnic wherever you are (just make sure you know the proper way to plate, dress, serve, and chow down on a plate full of frankfurters).

Check out the full listing on Airbnb.

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The Proper Way to Eat a Hot Dog

martinedoucet/iStock via Getty Images
martinedoucet/iStock via Getty Images

Attention America: you're probably eating hot dogs the wrong way, which is pretty embarrassing when you consider how much you love them.

The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, a part of the American Meat Institute, has an official etiquette guide for hot dog-eating, in order to do the summer staple justice. Surprisingly, many of the rules are intended to prevent people from getting too fancy with their franks.

How to plate your hot dog

No need for fancy garnishes—keep the presentation simple. Sticking with the laid-back theme, be sure to only use plain buns or those with poppy or sesame seeds. Even if they're your favorite, the council's website says "sun-dried tomato buns or basil buns are considered gauche with franks," so you might want to stay away.

How to Dress your hot dog

Dressing your hot dog is also a bigger deal than you might think. First, there's an order to follow. Wet condiments (mustard or chili, for example) go on first, followed by chunky ingredients—if you're putting onions or sauerkraut on your hot dog, this is the time to do it. Next comes cheese. Spices, such as pepper or celery salt, come last.

The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council also has rules about ketchup, much to the dismay of Internet commenters. According to the council, no person over the age of 18 should top their hot dog with ketchup, despite the fact that over half of all Americans use the condiment. Former council president Janet Riley (the so-called "Queen of Wien") is shocked by this: "Ketchup’s popularity was the big surprise, considering our etiquette rules—and ketchup’s notable absence from regional hot dog favorites like the Chicago Dog and the New York Dog."

How to serve your hot dog

According to the Council, always use low-maintenance dishes. Paper plates are preferable, but any everyday dish will do. Want to eat your hot dog off fine china? Sorry, that's a faux pas. Finally, if you're serving cocktail wieners, use colored toothpicks instead of plain ones. Cocktail forks are in poor taste, according to Riley.

How to eat your hot dog

Because hot dogs are such casual foods, you should never use a fork and knife. Instead, always use your hands for any hot dog on a bun. While you're at it, make sure you take no more than five bites to finish your frank (although seven is acceptable for foot-longs). Make sure you eat every part of the hot dog, including any leftover parts of the bun.

Finally, make sure your beverage of choice doesn't outshine the food. Wine shouldn't be paired with hot dogs. Instead, opt for beer, soda, lemonade, iced tea … really, anything that doesn't clash with your non-ketchup topping.

How to clean up after your hot dog meal

If you find yourself covered in mustard (or whatever else you put on your hot dog that isn't ketchup), there's also a way to clean up. Use paper napkins to clean your face—cloth napkins are never okay—but make sure that you lick off any condiments that you find on your fingers.

Finally, if you attend a hot dog barbecue, you don't send a thank you note. While a thoughtful gesture, the council notes that it "would not be in keeping with the unpretentious nature of hot dogs."

Want more advice from the council? The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council put together this handy video, featuring the Queen of Wien herself, boasting all the rules, some patriotic music, and a couple great food puns.

This story originally ran in 2015.

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