Today in 1966, NBC’s “The Tonight Show” turned a board game that might have fallen through the cracks… into a big hit.

The game was Twister, which had been thought up by Reyn Guyer.

He was working on an ad campaign for shoe polish, and along the way, he came up with an idea that no one had apparently tried before: a game in which the players were also the game pieces.

Guyer worked with Charles Foley and Neil Rabens to polish the idea.

They had players place hands and feet on color circles chosen by a spinner.

The way the game was structured almost guaranteed that at some point, participants would get all tangled up.

Whoever could keep their elbows and knees off the ground the longest won.

Milton Bradley bought in on what the makers had called “Pretzel.”

The new name was “Twister,” the slogan was “The Game That Ties You Up In Knots,” and the box featured a bunch of wholesome-looking, very overdressed adults who were not touching at all.

That’s because toy and game retailers were worried that it would just be too racy to sell a game that had people all up in each other’s personal space.

If retailers weren’t interested, Twister would come crashing down like most of its players.

But Milton Bradley’s PR team managed to get the game a different kind of attention: they convinced the producers of “The Tonight Show” to have host Johnny Carson play Twister on the show, with sitcom star Eva Gabor.

The studio audience was roaring as the two stars twisted and turned and got tangled up.

The next day, viewers started calling up their local stores, asking where they could get a copy of the game.

By the end of the year, the game that was on the verge of flopping was so popular that Milton Bradley actually had to call off a holiday ad campaign.

Twister was so popular they couldn’t make copies fast enough to keep up with demand.

There’s a new photo book that pays some extra attention to something we use all the time but maybe don’t think much about.

It’s called “Most Touched,” and it features the unique and sometimes striking designs of door handles.

We all use them, why not look at them too?

How Johnny Carson Saved Twister (

‘most touched’ photo book gathers more than 1,000 door handles from around the world (designboom)

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Photo by Karen via Flickr/Creative Commons