Game Review: Apples to Apples

by Julia DeKorte | 01 Apr 2024

Book Reviews

Apples to Apples



Apples to Apples is a party card game originally published by Out of the Box Publishing Inc., and now by Mattel. The game comes with two different categories of cards: Red and Green. Green cards, of which there are fewer, all have adjectives on them, while Red cards have nouns (including proper nouns). Each round starts with one person as the judge, a role that rotates each round, who picks a Green card.


Everyone else plays a Red card from their hand that they think best fits the description on the Green card. After everyone chooses a card, the judge anonymously picks which card they think is the best, and that person keeps the Green card and becomes the judge. The person with the most Green cards at the end of however many rounds you choose to play wins!


For example, a Green card may say, “calm,” “funky,” “filthy,” “speedy,” or “overwhelming.” Red cards say things like “high school football,” “Austin Powers,” “ear wax,” “science fair projects,” “X-rays,” “a dozen red roses,” or “New Orleans.” The players’ job is to pick the best Red card from their hand of 7 and hope the judge picks theirs over everyone else’s. It is quite an amusing game, and will definitely lead to a lot of laughs!



Matt Kirby invented Apples to Apples in 1998. He didn’t set out to invent the game, rather wanted to have a stimulating conversation with his in-laws. He asked the question, “Who is the better writer? F. Scott Fitzgerald or Hemingway? He then thought, “Who is the better writer? Fitzgerald or Picasso? Which led to, “Who is crazier? Picasso or a toaster? He quickly realized he was onto an interesting game idea.


After testing it with family and friends, he took the game to Origins in 1998, where he met with Out of the Box Publishing. Apples to Apples was published a year later in 1999, and has been a huge success ever since! In 2007, Out of the Box Publishing sold the game to Mattel, where it’s published now.



There’s been a number of variations of Apples to Apples over the past 25 years, including a number of expansion sets that added a bunch of new Red and Green cards. There’s also Apples to Apples Junior, for kids aged 9 and up, and Apples to Apples Kids, for children ages 7 and up.


There’s a number of demographic sets, including British Isles edition, Bible edition, Jewish edition, and Yiddish edition. There’s also many themed sets, including Disney and Marvel. There’s also Big Picture Apples to Apples, which replied the Red cards with pictures, adding a whole new element to the game.



Apples to Apples was chosen by Mensa International in 1999 as a “Mensa Select” prizewinner, an award given to five games each year. It was also the “Party Game of the Year” in the December 1999 issue of Games magazine and received the National Parenting Center’s seal of approval in May 1999. In 2019, Apples to Apples was inducted into the Origins Award Hall of Fame.


Apples to Apples also inspired a number of other card comparison games like Cards Against Humanity, a similar game but oriented for an adult audience, and What Do You Meme?, which is again similar, but uses popular internet memes in place of Red cards.

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