Four brightly coloured hippos – Homer (green), Harry (yellow), Henry (orange) and Lizzie/Happy (purple/pink depending on the version) – were the adorable stars of this game, released by Hasbro under the name of its subsidiary Milton Bradley in 1978. But they were anything but sweet once the feeding frenzy began.
Each of four hippo masters had control of a row of plastic marbles, and with a push of a lever, the balls rolled out into the communal trough. And then . . . sheer hippo lunacy. Nom nom nom!
Every marble was fair game once it hit the circular playing arena. A second lever (the hippo’s tail) sent hippo necks jutting out towards the arena trying to chomp down on a tasty marble or two.
A good, solid bite from the hippo’s hinged head sent the marble down into that hippo’s personal store, and the food-snatching continued until every last marble was gulped down. The hippo with the most marbles won.
That fast-paced brand of hippo-chomping craziness was what gave Hungry Hungry Hippos its charm. With only two levers to command, any kid could play – as well as any adult.
And this certainly wasn’t just a kids game. Adult appeal has helped keep Hungry Hungry Hippos alive and marble-gulping for more than two decades, even branching out into travel-sized and coin-operated arcade versions.
The classic game has been re-released and copied countless times over the years, with everything from frogs and dinosaurs to dragons and farm animals replacing the titular hippos.