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Neil Dandy holding box of Hungry Hungry Hippos

The amazing hippopotamus! The 2nd largest land animal on earth! They eat almost 80 pounds of grass per day! But there’s one certain type of hippo that eats nothing but marbles! And they’re always HUNGRY! HUNGRY! HIPPOS!

Neil Dandy holding and pointing to box of Hungry Hungry Hippos

In this episode of the Dandy Fun House, I’m going to unbox, assemble and show you 3 different ways to play the classic game Hungry Hungry Hippos. I’m also going to give you some history along the way about this pop culture classic! Let’s step into the fun house!

Dandy Fun House Logo

If you wanna win the game
You gotta take good aim
and get the most marbles with your hippo!
Playing Hungry Hungry Hippos!
Hungry Hungry Hippos!
(Original Hungry Hungry Hippos theme song, 1978)

picture of the original hungry hungry hippos tv commercial from 1978 showing children playing the game


It’s been very difficult to really dig down into the origins of this game. What I do know is that it was originally created by a Japanese toy company called Agatsuma and was called simply “The Hungry Game.” I haven’t been able to determine whether or not the original version had hippos or not. In fact I can’t find a picture or description of the original game anywhere and believe me I have scoured the interwebs for this!

I have not been able to find anything about the actual individual or individuals who invented the game. Any pictures or descriptions of its original forms. The origins of this game are very much shrouded in mystery!

What I did find is a historical timeline on a website for Agatsuma Co., LTD which also apparently operates under a brand name called Pinocchio. A lot of their online presence is written in Japanese characters so that was a bit of a struggle for me.

Anyway, this timeline shows the launch of the Hungry Game in 1977 and verifies that soon thereafter it was released in the US as Hungry Hungry Hippos by the toy company Hasbro.

An article on Mental Floss claims that Hungry Hungry Hippos debuted in the US in 1978 and was licensed under a deal brokered by a man named Fred Kroll who sold his rights to Hasbro who proceeded to release the game under the Milton Bradley label.

The original names for the hippos were Lizzie (purple), Henry (orange), Homer (green) and Harry (yello). So 3 dudes and one filly! That’s ok, Lizzie holds her own just fine!

box of hungry hungry hippos on tableside view of box of hungry hungry hippos on tableback of box of hungry hungry hippos on tableundercarriage of hungry hungry hippos gamehippo heads and marbles in plastic blister packstruggling to remove tape from back of blister packplacing hippo head onto hippo body


Looking at the box itself, from the front it appears as if the game comes already assembled. Thankfully that’s not the case otherwise I wouldn’t be able to show how to assemble it which is one of the most fun parts about doing these reviews.

The Orange Hippo enshrines all sides of the box and on the back there is a picture of 3 kids playing the game… ALL ON THE SAME SIDE OF THE TABLE! Ummm… I don’t think it works like that!

Opening the box, it has AUSTRALIA printed inside the flap. So of course I pull the contents out upside down! On the underside of the game board are the headless bodies of all 4 hippos snapped into holding tabs. It appears to be a very efficient method of storage!

I detach the bodies from the underside and find a detachable round tray snapped into place as well. I would find out later that this is for storage of the marbles although they aren’t in there at this time. Where are they??? They are inside of a plastic blister package along with the hippo heads which were cleverly displayed through the front of the box in such a manner that the game appeared to be pre-assembled! Pretty sneaky sis!

I struggle with the blister pack taped to a cardboard backing and of course marbles come pouring out the second I breach an opening and spill all over the place! I start attaching heads to bodies and then try to figure out how to attach hippos to the game board.

Some of the tabs on the hippo bodies are for snapping into place on the underside of the board for storage and other tabs are for snapping into place on the topside for game play. Once I figure this out, I’m off to the races and get everything secured in place fairly quickly. One other issue though. All the necks are stuck in an extended position! As I wrestle with this issue for a few minutes, I eventually discover that this is how the action levers are kept depressed and the necks are held by a small tab at the top of the hippos’ backs. Just slide the neck off the tab and everything repositions correctly.


struggling to remove tape from back of blister pack while red ooze drips


  1. Did you know that hippos secrete a red-colored ooze that acts as a sunblock?
  2. Hippos can hold their breath under water for 5 minutes. Their ears and nostrils close up to keep air in and water out!
  3. Hippos tend to live up to 40 years in the wild, but up to about 50 years in captivity.

So I guess the moral of this story is that if you’re on a mission to save the hippos, you’ll want to get busy capturing them. But I wouldn’t recommend it. Hippos tend to be very aggressive and tangling with one is just about never advisable!

veggie potamus labelbottomless potamus labelsweetie potamus labelhungry hippo label


For the 2023 version, the hippos all got new names!


So now we know who the leader of the herd is!

neil dandy with game board holding up 3 fingersaerial view of hungry hungry hippos game playaerial view of hungry hungry hippos game playaerial view of hungry hungry hippos game play


There are actually 3 different ways to play Hungry Hungry Hippos! Two of them are listed in the instructions, but I also discovered a third through the power of the interwebs!

  1. FEEDING FRENZY: This is where everyone just goes blitzkrieg releasing all their marbles (actually small plastic balls) while gobbling as much as they can as fast as they can. Whoever eats the most is the winner!
  2. GO FOR THE GOLD: There is one golden marble. Whoever gets it is the winner!
  3. RING AROUND THE POND: Players take turns releasing just one marble at a time and fighting for just that single marble until eventually all of them are eaten. Whoever has the most at the end is the winner!

neil dandy holding hungry hungry hippos game board

And there you have it! The 2023 version of Hungry Hungry Hippos! Still iconic! Still a classic! Still hungry!

neil dandy holding hungry hungry hippos game board with dandy fun house website address displayed

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Ok, I’ve gotta hop and skip my hippos outta here! Come back soon to the Dandy Fun House where everything is always FUN AND DANDY!

dandy fun house logo sideways

Neil Dandy is the creator of The Dandy Fun House and the alter-ego of Neil Smith, the Big Cheese at Neil Smith Entertainment and Productions, musician, DJ, Emcee and author. Aren’t you impressed?