Junk Food for Thought

The first 10,000 copies of Eat It! were sold in five months, and the creators hope to distribute 325,000 in the next year.
The first 10,000 copies of Eat It! were sold in five months, and the creators hope to distribute 325,000 in the next year. (Photos By Jahi Chikwendiu -- The Washington Post)
By Leef Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 4, 2005

People do it all the time. Whether they're stuck in traffic, walking the dog or sitting frozen on the ski lift waiting as the minutes tick by -- they come up with sure-fire ideas that could land them a pot of money. No more commute. No more cubicle. No more working for the Man.

And where do most of those brilliant ideas go? Nowhere.

People sober up, think about the grind of research and cost of attorneys, the work it would take to make that great idea come to life, and then the spark is lost. Along with the millions.

Well, one Alexandria couple decided their idea wasn't going to become another coulda-been.

Monica Ash, 33, and Eric Ash, 34, quit their software jobs and threw their energy into creating a board game. About snack food and sweets. That's right: Moon Pies and Twizzlers and Pop Rocks.

They scoured the Internet for obscure trivia (Did you know it takes 252 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop?) and spent weeks hunting the shelves of their grocery stores and 7-Elevens, delving into the mysteries of the junk food that Americans so adore.

And it looks as if they may have found sweet success.

Since its launch in February at the American International Toy Fair in New York, the largest toy show in North America, Eat It! has won praise from gamers and been picked up by such nationwide retailers as Target.com and Toysrus.com, where the game is on back order. Not surprisingly, it's also being sold at places that sell candy and snacks. And the Food Network series "Unwrapped" is doing a feature.

The Ashes said it took a mere five months to sell the first 10,000 copies at $29.99 a pop. Now, based on verbal commitments from retailers, they hope to distribute 325,000 more in the next year, a goal toy industry experts say is lofty.

The Ashes weren't hankering to become inventors. Not even close. The idea for the game was born July 4, 2004, during a family vacation in Florida.

Monica's cousin, Christine Jennings, 34, introduced the idea. She was tired of being beaten at board games by her teenage son. Why, she lamented, don't they make games about snack food?

"Finally, I'd be able to win," she told them.

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