A group that is having fun and enjoying themselves is often said to be having “more fun than a barrel of monkeys.” But what is the origin of that saying? Barrel of Monkeys is a game released by Lakeside Toys in 1965. It was created by Leonard Marks and Milton Dinhofer in 1961. Today it is produced by the Milton Bradley Company within the Hasbro corporation.
The barrel itself can come in either blue, yellow, red, purple, orange, gray or green and contains 12 monkeys whose colour usually corresponds with the barrel’s colour. The Hallmark store released a commemorative Keepsake Ornament of the classic game in 2019:
To play the actual game, this is what you do: “Dump monkeys onto table. Pick up one monkey by an arm. Hook other arm through a second monkey’s arm. Continue making a chain. Your turn is over when a monkey is dropped.” But the unwritten rule, perhaps the most important one, is that no monkey should be left behind!
These ornaments usually come with a red ribbon tied to the top of the piece, which you can see the loop for at the top of the uppermost monkey in the pictures above. I always remove the ribbon as I choose to display most of these ornaments in others ways than hanging them.
You’ll notice that this homage to the original barrel of monkeys has red monkeys in a yellow barrel, instead of following the actual tendency to have the monkeys and barrels match, as mentioned earlier.
A little detail that many might miss is that the top of the barrel, or on the lid, you see the front of a monkey. But on the bottom of the barrel, you see his back and tail.
So if it’s Game Night in your household, why not break out the monkeys and try your best to have more fun than they do!