Twister's greatest moments in pop culture

Since its inception as an advertising gimmick for a shoe wax company, Twister has come a long way. Almost 50 years later, it's been played by 65 million people, and everyone from Johnny Carson to Keanu Reeves to Taylor Swift has been tied in knots on its colorful game board.

Here are some of the most memorable pop culture moments in Twister's storied history.

Jimmy Carson Vs. Eva Gabor

Despite concerns that the game was too sexy, Johnny Carson played a game of Twister on The Tonight Show with Eva Gabor in 1966. The publicity stunt saved the game from prudish retailers who were trying to have the product pulled--consumer demand won the day:

Eva Gabor twister.jpg

Weird Al Yankovic
Fast forward to 1988--Weird Al parodies the Beastie Boys with some extremely G-rated lyrics in his song "Twister" from the "Even Worse" album:

Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey

In order to escape from hell, Bill and Ted must beat Death at a game of their choosing in this 1991 sequel to Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. They have only one choice: Out-twist the reaper:

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William McGaughey
William McGaughey

This scene (Toy Soldiers) is capitalism at its finest. The man (or woman) with the idea meets the man (or woman) with the money and marketing distribution, and they take a chance. Some ideas make it while others do not. Some rejected ideas get a second chance as when Johnny Carson and Zsa Zsa Gabor played Twister.

The decline of capitalism occurs when freedom is replaced by a desire for consistent quality. Instead of just inventing, people go to school to learn how to invent. We need licensing and certification to make sure that unworthy persons or products do not get to market. Representatives of the toy companies no longer meet individual inventors in hotel rooms but require ideas to be filtered through “toy agents”. The establishment screens out prospective competition. The market tightens up.

U.S. capitalism is in poor shape these days. If it fails, it will not be due to people organizing socialist revolutions but to a loss of freedom such as what the toy industry in its heyday exhibited. We insist too much on guaranteed performance.

I had a chance to meet Reyn Geyer in 1968, two years after Twister became a sensation. He helped put me in touch with a small company that he thought might be interested in a board game that I had invented. My product did not enjoy commercial success even though, if not Johnny Carson, a rising political figure then living in Sacramento said he’d play it.

It shows the generous spirit of Geyer and others who lived in that creative period. Such times cannot be maintained forever. Thanks for capturing this piece of Twin Cities history.

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