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For Find Out Friday - What the Heck is a “Jenga” Anyways?

I had the pleasure of spending two days this past week with my niece and nephew. While adorable, entertaining them can be exhausting. However they came fully prepared. 

The first game they suggested, you have probably guessed from this blog’s title and you would be correct. It was Jenga. I haven’t played that game in so long I can’t even remember if it was in this decade. My assumption is no. I was instantly eager to give it my all.

Keep in mind this was before 8 a.m. and I had insomnia the night before so that means I did not get a wink of sleep. Plus hadn’t eaten or brewed coffee yet. Yes, I am that good of an aunt. 

Though tensions were high, and I had to continue to remind my fellow players not to shake the table when it was my turn, it was a good time. 

I only lost one out of the three games we played. I count that as a success.

Now I didn’t write this blog just to boast about myself although I could see why you would think that.

Rather while we were playing the kids pointed out the unusual name of the game. They asked if I knew where it came from. I said no, nor did I know who invented it but I promised them I’d find out. Being the amazing aunt I am (last time I promise) I made it this week’s Find Out Friday.

Jenga is a Hasbro game and was released to the world in 1982 at a place I know well; Harrods department store ( in London. It arrived in the United States in 1986. The original promoter had bought the rights to the game from the creator, a childhood friend of her’s. Thats right, there is a woman behind Jenga. Her name is Leslie Scott.

Leslie Scott had been playing Jenga all her life. It was a game her family played during her childhood in Ghana in the 1970s. Back then the family used the wooden blocks they had from other toys. 

The name Jenga is Swahilli for “to build”, simple enough.

I have yet to meet someone who hasn’t played this game of stacking blocks, and removing one individual piece at a time, and placing it on top until it collapses; at least once in their life. It is exciting and doesn’t take too long to play. Those are the features I like best about it. 

I now also know that Jenga has done some good for the environment. The trees used to made the wooden blocks for the game come exclusively from Alder trees. These trees grow specifically on the West side of the Cascade Mountains in Washington and Oregon. Prior to its current use these trees had been largely cleared for firewood because it was though to be a weed. Now that its durability has been tested it is also used for furniture.

When we think of Jenga we think about size and time. How long did you get to play for? What was the highest you were able to build a tower that remained standing? 

Sadly our stats are not as impressive as those I found out about.

According to Guinness World Records:

“The fastest time to build a stable Jenga tower 30 levels high within the rules of the game is 2 min and 51.04 seconds and was achieved by Tyler Measel and Ryan Measel (both USA) in Pilesgrove, New Jersey, USA, on 7 June 2014.”

While the record for the highest tower was built by Robert Grebler, also from the U.S.A., in 1985. His tower was forty complete stories, on his way to finishing the forty-first.

I guess the next time I am hanging out with the kids we have something to shoot for. 

You know…. If they remember not to shake the table!

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