Jack Straws from Parker Brothers (1974)

Company: Parker Brothers | Release date: 1974 (this version) | Ages: 8+ | # of players: 2+ | Where to buy: eBay

Released in 1974, Jack Straws was Parker Brothers’ version of the iconic dexterity game, which dates back to the 1800s.


To start a game, one player held all the “straws” loosely in one hand about two inches above the playing surface. With their fist positioned horizontally to the table, they dropped the objects into a pile.

Using a metal hook, the player needed a steady hand to remove individual items from the pile, one at a time, without moving any others. A successful extraction allowed the player to keep the item and move on to the next object. Play continued until an attempt to snag an item resulted in unintended movement, ending the turn.

The next player then picked up the remaining straws, dropped them in the same manner, and attempted to pick them up in the same manner. The game continued until all of the straws were drawn. The player with the highest total of points, according to the following count, won the game.

Score Straw(s)
10 points each Two-Man Saw, Gun, Wrench, Ladder, Keyhole Saw
5 points each Shovel, Rake, Sledge, Form, T-Square, Paddle, Axe, Crutch, Sword
2 points each Cane, Arrow, Tamper, Baton, Hockey Stick
1 point each All other pieces


A complete Jack Straws game included at least 45 plastic straws, one metal hook, and a plastic insert holding all the pieces. Instructions were printed on the inside of the box cover.


The game’s ubiquity makes securing a copy of Jack Straws easy. Over the years, Parker Brothers released multiple versions of the game with minimal changes outside of the packaging.

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