Candy Land, the first board game most American children learn to play, owes its existence to one of the most feared diseases in the country during the first half of the 20th century. Striking thousands of victims each year and resulting in two major epidemics - one in 1916 and another in 1952 - polio left many children crippled and paralyzed in its wake. While most people afflicted with the disease did survive, the recovery process was long and arduous. Eleanor Abbott, recuperating from polio in San Diego, California, in the 1940s, spent her time inventing games to help children affected by the disease deal with the endless hours of recuperation. Creating Candy Land for especially young children who had not yet learned to read, she dispensed with complicated directions, rules, and numbers. Instead, game-play is organized by color. Players take turns drawing color-coded cards and move their gingerbread-man playing pieces to squares of the same color on the game board. Moving through the Peppermint Stick Forest, gumdrop mountains, and lollipop woods, each player tries to reach the Candy Castle at the end. Friends and family were so pleased with Miss Abbott's creation that she sent it off to the Milton Bradley Company. Production began in 1949 and has continued ever since.