May 22: Pac-Man

pacmanToday we celebrate the 34th birthday of one of the most iconic video games of all time, Pac-Man, which was originally released in Japan as Puck-Man on this day in 1980.

This legendary game was created by a young Namco employee by the name of Tōru Iwatani who wanted to create a game based around eating. The game was originally called Pakkuman actuallycomes from a Japanese slang term, the onomatopoetic paku-paku taberu, which refers to the “paku-paku” sound of a mouth widely opening and then quickly closing. Admit it, a few of you just performed that motion to try to hear the paku-paku sound.

The character of Pac-Man’s simple “yellow circle with a mouth” design was partially based on the idea of a pizza with a missing slice. However, Iwatani would also claim it was inspired by rounding out the Japanese character kuchi which means mouth. Additionally, by making the title character a genderless yellow circle, Iwatani hoped to appeal to an audience larger than the boys and teenagers; hoping that by not making the character explicitly male (despite the -Man suffix) it could bring more women into arcades.

When Puck-Man was brought to the west, the American publisher Midway vetoed the name and changed it to Pac-Man. Why? Well, they were afraid that vandals could easily scrape at the “P” on the arcade cabinet and change it to an “F” which would create an entirely different image from the one they intended for the game.

In the Pac-Man game, you primarily get points from eating pellets scattered around the maze, but you can obtain bonus points by ingesting the fruits that sporadically appear during each level. The drink called Pac-Man takes inspiration from these pixel fruits, using ingredients made from each of the fruits Pac-Man eats: Maraschino liqueur (for the cherries), strawberry schnapps, peach schnapps, apple juice and pineapple juice. This drink will probably be too sweet for most drinkers, but it packs a nice punch.

Pac-Man

  • 1 ounce Maraschino Liqueur
  • 1 ounce Strawberry Schnapps
  • 1 ounce Peach Schnapps
  • 2 ounces apple juice
  • 2 ounces pineapple juice

Pour all ingredients into an ice filled highball glass and stir. Garnish with a banana slice, cut to resemble Pac-Man.

Tomorrow: The worst show on Broadway.

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