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Cadado Ellis
Chicago, IL
1935 - 2010

 

Aliases

 

Cadado

Cadado – Ellis

Poof Slinky purchased Cadado in 2010 and rapidly phased out the Cadado name

 

Locations                                                                                         

 

San Leandro, CA 1935-1937

Oakland, CA, 1937

Chicago, IL 1937-2010

History

 

https://www.madeinchicagomuseum.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/848e7d_7a1356205c034343b7397f8ffa284337mv2.jpg

 

The Cadado-Ellis company was a toy and game manufacturer out of Chicago, IL.  It was founded by Donald J. Mazer.  Rather than writing up my own historical research, I think that the Made In Chicago Museum’s background is fitting:  Mazer was an Oklahoma native, born to a Russian father and English mother at the turn of the century. A former student at Columbia Law School, he eventually followed scores of other Americans out to the left coast during the Great Depression, presumably in search of. . . something. While living in San Leandro, California, in 1935, the 33 year-old Mazer went into business with an old friend, Charles Berisheimer, and the pair rented out a small garage with the goal of designing tabletop games. With so many people out of work, they figured, creating affordable, time-killing entertainment might be one of the few smart industries to break into. They called their new company “Cadaco,” short for “Charles and Don and Company.” Cadaco’s California era, however, would not last long.

 

According to legend, within the company’s first year of existence, Cadaco was among the many game distributors approached by designer Charles Darrow about publishing his new game “Monopoly.” Mazer and Berisheimer shrugged and passed on it. It was the first of several unfortunate decisions that would keep Cadaco a second fiddle to the likes of Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley through the decades to come.

 

Mazer’s greater focus during the company’s early years was the development of a new style of sports themed board game. One of his earliest titles, “Touchdown,” was promoted right on the box as “A Scientific Football Game,” introducing Mazer’s brainier take on America’s more jockular pastimes.

 

Gaining some traction with a niche fan base, Cadaco moved to a new office in Oakland for a short time, then—just two years after its founding—made the bold leap to Chicago in 1937, hoping to benefit from a more centralized distribution hub. A key component of this decision was Donald Mazer’s new bride, Eleanor Ellis, who not only became his partner in life, but also bought out his old business partner Berisheimer. In turn, the company was re-christened “Cadaco-Ellis” and set up shop in a small nook (office #1458) of Chicago’s mighty Merchandise Mart—at the time the largest building in the world (four million square feet, to be precise).

 

These became the golden years of creativity for the Cadaco crew, as Donald and Eleanor wisely surrounded themselves with experts in a wide range of fields—from marketing, packaging, art, and design to sports management. They brought a man named Stanley Hopkins into the fold as a partner, and took over the publishing of his already popular hybrid card game Tripoley (“The Game of Kings and Queens”), which became one of the company’s top-selling titles.

 

Rationing during World War II limited Cadaco’s resources considerably.  Ten years after their very popular game, All-Star Baseball’s debut, Donald Mazer died suddenly at just 49, leaving his wife as sole owner of Cadaco-Ellis. She elevated Mazer’s former assistant Doug Bolton [pictured] to the role of general manager, and the company powered forward.

 

In post-war America, Cadaco’s sports games reached all-time highs in popularity, and the company was continuing to find success in other avenues, as well. Though they’d passed on the original Scrabble in another regrettable move, Bolton was able to get the rights to a cardboard version in 1953, which—as part of the agreement—he had to call by a different name, “Skip-Across.” It sold over a million copies in its first year.

 

During this same era, Cadaco was developing an increasingly tight relationship with its main supplier of cardboard and materials, Chicago’s Rapid Mounting and Finishing Company. In 1959, Doug Bolton actually jumped ship to a better paying gig with Rapid Mounting, but the separation from Cadaco was short lived, as Rapid Mounting actually purchased the game company outright in 1964, installing Bolton as the GM once more, and shortening the brand name back to the original CADACO. The move also soon ended Cadaco’s long residency in the Merchandise Mart, as operations moved to another Marshall Field river warehouse at 310 W. Polk Street during the late ’60s into the ’70s.

 

By the 1970s and ‘80s, board games were under assault not just from this new thing called “video games,” but from a changing culture in general. Cadaco, a company that had once published a “Little Black Sambo” game in its early years, released the well-intended but ill-advised “Martin Luther King, Jr. Game” in 1986. It was a disastrous commercial flop. Better sales came with Cadaco family games like the “Ten Commandments Bible Game,” “Bible Trivia,” and “The Bible Stories Game,” which were all, weirdly enough, about the Bible.

 

By this point in time, the Rapid Mounting & Finishing Co. offices and its Cadaco division had also settled into a new home at 4300 W. 47th Street in Archer Heights. The building dated back to the 1950s; a late-era addition to the Central Manufacturing District and former home of the National Video Corporation.

 

At the dawning of the ‘90s, a new boss—a veteran Arkansas businessman named Waymon Wittman—had replaced Doug Bolton at the Cadaco helm, fending off the second wave of video game hysteria from the NES revolution.

 

“I’ll be honest about it,” Wittman told the Tribune in 1990, “Nintendo has been cleanin’ our plow.”

 

Wittman’s big solution was to finally pay a bit less attention to the traditional game demographic (kids) and focus on the former kid market—the middle-aged and elderly Americans who’d grown up playing Cadaco games and still had warmth in their hearts for them.

 

Wittman’s analysis paid off for a while when Cadaco re-released Tripoley and some of its other classic games in new formats, often with bigger print for the cataracts generation. Unfortunately, Wittman’s second prediction—that “video-game hysteria has begun to plateau at last”—proved less prophetic.

 

With the company struggling, a further blow was dealt in 1993, when a tightening down of the Major League Baseball Players Association (ahead of the imminent 1994 players’ strike) led to some new rules about the use of player names in games like All-Star Baseball, which had just celebrated its 50th anniversary. Unable to pay the hefty licensing fees to keep printing discs for the likes of Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Bonds, Cadaco elected to shut down production of the iconic game. Coincidentally, Ethan Allen died the same year at the age of 89.

 

In 2010, the Cadaco brand—having been pounded into near irrelevance by the internet age—was purchased by the toy company Poof-Slinky. Imagine the indignity of having to hand your life’s work and legacy over to something called “Poof-Slinky.” Not ideal.

 

And indeed, Poof-Slinky was not kind to the Cadaco name, as the old corporate website soon shutdown and the brand identity was gradually taken almost completely out of circulation on current releases.

 

Known Crayon Boxes

                                                                                                                                                                                          

Product Name

ID

Box

Colors

Crayons

Box Color

Design

Variation

Years

Rarity

Value

De Luxe No 108

CAD0002

TFT

8

8

Blue,Red

Window

Banner, red flap

1950s

9

$15

Draw-It

CAD0001

TFT

6

6

Blue,Red

Easy to Do

List of colors, lots of text

1940s

9

$7

 

Photos

 

 

 

CAD0001

CAD0002