It’s called Bananagrams. There’s no paper or pen required, no board to play on, and no agonizing wait for your turn. Instead, everyone works independently on their own crossword-style puzzle, rearranging already formed words at any time to create new ones. You can even exchange hard-to-use letters for different ones. The goal is to use all your allotted letters before the other players do. When you’re done playing, the letter tiles zip into a cute banana-shaped pouch that’s portable enough to take anywhere – all you need is a flat surface and between 2 and 8 people to play.
The inventor of Bananagrams is 80-year-old Abe Nathanson, who was inspired after he lost a marathon Scrabble match to his 11-year-old grandson. Abe decided it was time for a fast-paced anagram game, and his family helped him come up with the catchy name, simple rules and clever packaging. Since then, Abe has relied on word-of-mouth instead of mass marketing to sell his game, and shuns big-box retailers in favor of small, more personal toy stores. The game is great for younger kids because you don’t have to know BIG words to win, yet still challenging enough to keep adults in the game. It’s bunches of fun for all ages.