Mystery Date (game)

Mystery Date

Mystery Date box cover, 1965
Years active 1965, 1970, 1999, 2005
Genre(s) Board game
Dice game
Card game
Players 2–4
Age range 6–14
Playing time 20 minutes
Random chance dice
Skill(s) required probability

Mystery Date is a board game from the Milton Bradley Company released in 1965, conceived by Marvin Glass and created by Henry Stan. Marketed to girls 6 to 14 years of age, it has been reissued in 1970, 1999, and 2005.


Mystery Date game board, 1965

Mystery Date can be played with 2, 3, or 4 players. The object of the game is to acquire a desirable date, while avoiding the "dud".[1][2] The player must assemble an outfit by acquiring three matching color-coded cards, which then must match the outfit of the date at the "mystery door". The date is revealed by spinning the door handle and opening the plastic door on the game board. The five possible dates are the "formal dance" date, the "bowling" date, the "beach" date, the "skiing" date, and the "dud".[3]

The date to be avoided is the poorly dressed "dud". He is wearing slovenly attire, his hair is tousled, and his face sports a beard shadow. In the 1970s game, a "picnic" date replaces the "bowling" date.

If the player's outfit does not match the date behind the door, the door is closed and play continues.[3]


The book Timeless Toys described Mystery Date as if it was the result of crossing "Barbie in all her high-fashion glory with 1965's biggest game show, Let's Make a Deal". Calling it an example of "simple, yet ingenious" quality typically associated with Marvin Glass, it is now considered "one of the most sought-after games from the '60s".[3]

Having played it as a child, Michelle Slatalla of The New York Times in the 2000s retrospectively called the game's premise "politically incorrect".[1][2]

The game is mentioned in the 1994 Disney film The Santa Clause. It is said that the character Laura (Wendy Crewson) asked Santa Claus for the game as a child, but never received it, which caused her to stop believing in Santa Claus.

The game is parodied in the 1996 The Simpsons episode, "Summer of 4 Ft. 2".

It is the inspiration for the TV series Mad Men episode "Mystery Date" (2012). The plot uses the game's themes of dating, masculine desirability, and Russian roulette approach to opening a door as a metaphor.

In the Ren and Stimpy episode "Sven Hoek", the game is parodied as Misery Date.

The game is played on screen in the bookshop "Buy-the-book" on the 1990s sitcom Ellen and is referred to there as "the chick game".

The game is presented in the Season 5 finale of Pretty Little Liars.

Season 4 episode 21, titled "Prank Day", of That '70s Show features the game.


  1. 1 2 Slatalla, Michelle (September 9, 2004). "Online Shopper: Out for V-I-C-T-O-R-Y, but Missing Tiles". The New York Times. Retrieved February 7, 2016.
  2. 1 2 Slatalla, Michelle (November 16, 2000). "Online Shopper: Ouija Boards To Motherboards In Online Bazaar". The New York Times. p. G4. Retrieved February 7, 2016.
  3. 1 2 3 Walsh, Tim (2005). Timeless Toys: Classic Toys and the Playmakers Who Created Them. Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel. pp. 166–167. ISBN 9780740755712. OCLC 60590126.
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