The Time Plinko Was All They Played On The Price Is Right

Since its debut back in 1956, "The Price Is Right" has lasted through 13 presidents and three hosts. Viewers have watched it on their black-and-white consoles, color sets, and plasma screens — and taped it on their VCRs and DVRs. But while the times have changed, the game show itself hasn't. From the opening call of "Come on down!" to the final Showcase Showdown, the premise has stayed constant, and that's the way the loyal viewers like it.

What's the secret to "Price"s longevity? The big prizes don't hurt; in truth, it's thrilling to see a contestant win a new car or an exotic trip. The "regular guy" aspect is appealing, too. Unlike other game shows, you don't have to know French monarchs, play as a family team, or name a melody in two notes. All you need is a bit of luck and basic knowledge of economics. If you can accurately guess the cost of both a box of instant mashed potatoes and a living-room set, you could come away a winner.

The inventive games are another draw. Some involve simple strategies, such as "Flip Flop," which asks players to switch either the first two or last two digits of the prize's price. Others are races against time, like the "Clock Game" or "Bonkers." But while the contestants are psyched just to be on stage, there's one game that has had players screaming and jumping since 1983 (per CBS).

The show's most popular game is all to do with luck

Surprisingly, the most popular game by far on "The Price Is Right" doesn't involve guessing the retail price of the big prize. Per BuzzFeed, contestants go absolutely wild when they learn that they'll be playing Plinko. First introduced in 1983 (via CBS), it features a giant pegged board with nine slots at the bottom, each with a dollar amount between $0 and $10,000. By guessing the cost of small prizes, players earn chips that they drop down the board. A really lucky contestant can collect as much as $25,000, whereas a very unlucky contestant might walk away with nothing.

What's the appeal of this simple game? Host Drew Carey once told BuzzFeed, "I honestly think a lot of it has to do with anticipation — just the amount of time it takes the chip to get down to a prize, and how it bounces around ... and the randomness of it." Because it's a game of luck, it also avoids the embarrassment factor. It's one thing to miss out on a pile of cash because the chip pinged off the wrong peg; it's another to miss out on a car because you guessed the wrong final digit of its price.

Whatever the reason, Plinko has been a part of the "Price" culture for nearly 40 years, and on one milestone anniversary, producers decided to do something extra special.

The all-Plinko show had a surprising result

September 2013 marked the 30th anniversary of Plinko's debut on "The Price Is Right." To commemorate the occasion, Drew Carey and executive producer Mike Richards — who stepped down as host of "Jeopardy!" years later — decided to devote an episode exclusively to the game. As Richards told a BuzzFeed reporter at the time, "They will know it's the 30th anniversary, but they won't know until about the third time it comes out that it's all Plinko, all the time. Which will be fun!"

To add to the appeal, the special episode featured big prizes in some of the Plinko slots. Contestants could potentially have walked away with a car, a trip or some other bauble, as well as a fistful of cash. But did it happen? Well, not exactly. As the BuzzFeed writer saw first-hand, one player did hit the coveted $10,000 slot, plus a new ATV. The other five Plinko players were far less lucky; their chips landed in the $0 space a total of seven times, and one man pocketed just $500.

Despite the lack of big-money payouts, the all-Plinko episode was fun for both the players and the audience. However, Richards said that there are no plans for another such show, "not because I don't think it went well or anything, just because we have to beat ourselves creatively in what we'll do next time to celebrate something else."