Word on this game is spreading fast

'We never planned to do it, it just grew organically.'

Before they created Bananagrams, the high-speed word game now played in elementary school classrooms and pubs and from Bristol to Brazil, the Nathanson family invented other games to pass summer-vacation hours by the beach in Narragansett. More

To continue reading this article, please do one of the following.



MAIN STREET

Word on this game is spreading fast

'We never planned to do it, it just grew organically.'

PBN PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY
BEARING FRUIT: Founded in 2006, Bananagrams has seen sales of its high-speed word game grow. Pictured above from left, vendor coordinator Katherine Blessinger, marketing executive Shauna Parsons and trade-show manager Meredith Eisenberg.
Posted 5/7/12

Before they created Bananagrams, the high-speed word game now played in elementary school classrooms and pubs and from Bristol to Brazil, the Nathanson family invented other games to pass summer-vacation hours by the beach in Narragansett.

Guessing whether food and kitchen utensils dropped in a bucket of water would sink was one, but it didn’t have the portability or addictive potential of their anagram game, which the family took with them wherever they went.

And it didn’t have a catchy name like Bananagrams, a moniker that gave the word game not only its marketing punch, but the fruit theme and packaging concept.

“My dad said: ‘This anagram game is driving me bananas,” and we knew we had to put the whole thing in a banana shape,” said Banagrams President Rena Nathanson. “We never planned to do it. It just grew organically.”

Although its kitchen-table creation by three generations of Nathansons gave the game built-in market testing and authenticity, Bananagrams was not entirely an amateur affair.

Nathanson’s father, Abe, the driving, creative force behind the Bananagram family of games, was a graphic designer who founded a commercial-design studio, George Nathan Design, before he turned to creating games in his later years.

It was Abe Nathanson’s knowledge of manufacturing that resulted in a test batch of 50 Bananagrams games being made in 2005.

At the time, the younger Nathanson was also a graphic designer with two children trying to launch an interior-design business.

She took 25 of the games to London, where she lives part of the year, while 25 went to The World Store in North Kingstown.

On both sides of the pond, the games, packaged in banana-shaped, yellow pouches, flew off the shelves, prompting the Nathansons to have 500 of the games made. Those too sold rapidly and when Nathanson took Bananagrams to an international toy show in London, a business was born.

Nathanson quit her décor enterprise and the family opened an office on Allens Avenue in Providence, which they quickly painted yellow and made the headquarters of an international sales operation.

By 2011, Bananagrams had sold 6 million games and, in addition to the original game, now makes four others, including Appleletters, Pairs in Pears, Zip-It and Fruitominoes.

Next Page
Calendar
PBN Hosted
Events

Join PBN for the best networking event and party of the winter - January 15, 2015 - the Book of Lists Party at the Providence Public Library. Reserve your spot by December 31st and get a holiday gift from PBN!
  • Best Places to Work
    Enrollment is now open for the 7th annual Best Places to Work program. Winners w ...
  • Manufacturing Awards
    Applications are now being accepted for the 2nd Annual Manufacturing Awards. Dea ...
Advertisement
Purchase Data
Book of Lists
Lists
Book of Lists cover
PBN's annual Book of Lists has been an essential resource for the local business community for almost 30 years. The Book of Lists features a wealth of company rankings from a variety of fields and industries, including banking, health care, real estate, law, hospitality, education, not-for-profits, technology and many more.
Data icons
Data can be purchased as single lists, in either Excel or PDF format; the entire database of the published book, in Excel format; or a printed copy of the Book of Lists.
  • Purchase an e-File of a single list
  •  
  • Purchase an e-File of the entire Book of Lists database
  •  
  • Purchase a printed copy of the Book of Lists
  •  
    National
    Local
    Latest News
    Advertisement