The Monopolization of Monopoly
Bulls & Bears

by Burton H. Wolfe
©1976 The San Francisco Bay Guardian

Dozens of cock-and-bull stories like these, placed in leading newspapers and magazines (and later in Maxine Brady's "definitive Monopoly Book" by Parker Brothers' publicity department, turned Darrow into a veritable folk hero. So, Parker Brothers executives decided to take advantage of their dazzling verification of P. T. Barnum's "sucker born every minute" dictum as applied to the press and its easily hoodwinked, victimized readers. They manufactured another business game called "Bulls & Bears" and distributed a press release calling it a second invention of Charles Darrow. As with Monopoly, periodicals such as Time swallowed the whole package of baloney.

"If it is true that the devil finds work for idle hands to do," stated Time in the Feb. 1, 1937, issue, "the No. 1 US Mephistopheles is currently a mild little Philadelphian named Charles Darrow. Mr Darrow's claim to the title, based on Monopoly, US parlor craze of 1936, was last week reinforced when Parker Brothers began to distribute his second invention for idle hands. The new Darrow game is Bulls & Bears. Success of Monopoly, which was last week estimated to be in its sixth million and selling faster than ever, gave Bulls & Bears a pre-publication sale of 100,000, largest on record for a new game."

(You will find the same bogus story on Bulls & Bears in a Business Week blowout on Monopoly and Parker Brothers in the issue of March 25, 1967, still another tribute to the remarkable ability of Parker's publicity department to perpetuate a hoax.)

Four decades later, in the Anti-Monopoly lawsuit, Parker Brothers president Barton was obliged to admit that Darrow had nothing to do with Bulls & Bears; it was created by Parker Brothers' own staff and Darrow was billed as its inventor so the firm could capitalize on his reputation as the inventor of Monopoly. Barton, in his pretrial deposition, shrugged it off as the same sort of endorsement process companies arrange for magazine and television commercials with "these professional athletes today."