Here at Bookstr, we love good wordplay. Lucky for us, today is National Scrabble Day! We’re taking a deeper look at the history and the inventor behind the iconic board game. We celebrate this national holiday every April 13th, as it is the day its inventor was born. Scrabble has become one of the most classic board games in the world, and chances are you can find the game somewhere in your house.
Lexiko, Criss Cross Words or Scrabble?
Many people may be surprised to learn how the iconic Scrabble game came into existence. During the Great Depression, there weren’t many jobs available, if any. An unemployed architect named Alfred M. Butts had ample time on his hands. Therefore, he decided to create a game based on his love for crossword puzzles and anagrams for him and his family. In 1931, Butts had created and coined the name “Lexiko” before landing on “Criss Cross” for his new game.
At first, it consisted of several lettered tiles with no board. After initially receiving little attention from stores, James Brunot, a former social worker, helped redesign and market the game. He bought the manufacturing rights from Butts, but only with the condition that Butts would receive royalties on every copy sold. Thus, in 1948 the iconic name “Scrabble” was born. Hasbro hadn’t bought Scrabble until 1989.
Alfred Mosher Butts
On April 13th, 1899, the American architect and amateur artist, Alfred Mosher Butts, was born in Poughkeepsie, New York. Butts was an avid analyzer of word games like anagrams. He often compared these games to number and move games. Dice, bingo, chess, and checkers were all based on the competitor’s moves. So what made card games so special? According to Hasbro, Butts realized “…there is one thing that keeps word games from being as popular as card games: they have no score.”
This epiphany began Butts’ long-rewarding career as a game-changer. It is believed that he extensively studied the front page of “The New York Times” to calculate his letter distribution for the game. This distribution of letters has become the basis for Scrabble for three generations. Although what once started as a way to pass the time with his wife, friends, and family, it eventually entered the hearts and homes of millions.
10 Interesting Scrabble Facts
- Scrabble was originally called Lexico and then Criss Cross in the 1930s and 1940s.
- The first version of Lexiko was only played with tiles and no board.
- Almost every game manufacturer initially rejected Scrabble.
- The highest-scoring Scrabble word is “Oxyphenbutazone” with 1782 points. It would have to be played across the top of the board, hitting three Triple Word Score squares while making seven crosswords downward.
- Scrabble was adapted into a TV game show in 1984.
- Scrabble was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2004.
- The Scrabble board game is available in 30 official languages.
- The World Scrabble Championship started in 1991. It has since become an annual event. It has attracted upwards of 130 members with a total prize pool of up to $50,000.
- Nigel Richards of New Zealand has won the championship five times, the most of any competitor.
- Three out of every five American households have a Scrabble game.
What’s a better way to celebrate National Scrabble Day than to pick up the board game for a game night with friends? You may even have a chance at scoring the highest word in Scrabble history. The official Scrabble dictionary is constantly updating its eligible words list, and you can check on its website. No better game tests your vocabulary and patience or reveals how competitive you truly are than Scrabble. To learn how to play, head over to Hasbro’s website.
Looking to score more Scrabble news? Keep reading here.