|Created by||Jack Barry
|Presented by||Jack Barry (1956–1958)
Gene Rayburn (1956–1957, Fridays only)
Jay Jackson (1957–1958, primetime)
Win Elliot (1958, primetime)
Bill Wendell (1958–1959)
Wink Martindale (1978–1985)
Jim Caldwell (1985–1986)
Patrick Wayne (1990–1991)
|Narrated by||Bill Wendell (1956–1958)
Bill McCord (1958–1959)
Jay Stewart (1978–1981)
Charlie O'Donnell (1981–1986)
Larry van Nuys (1990–1991)
|Theme music composer||Hal Hidey (1978–1986)
Henry Mancini (1990–1991)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||45 episodes (CBS Daytime; 1978)
1,560 (1978–1986 Syndicated run)
New York, New York (1956–1959)
CBS Television City
Hollywood, California (1978–1980)
KCOP/Chris Craft Studios
Hollywood, California (1981–1984; 1985–1986)
The Production Group Studios
Hollywood, California (1984–1985)
Hollywood Center Studios
Hollywood, California (1990–1991)
|Running time||30 Minutes|
|Production company(s)||Barry, Enright, & Friendly Productions (1956–1959)
Barry & Enright Productions (1978–1986, 1990–1991)
|Distributor||Colbert Television Sales (1978–1986)
ITC Entertainment (1990–1991)
|Original channel||NBC (1956–1959)
Syndicated (1978–1986, 1990–1991)
|Original run||July 30, 1956
–October 23, 1959|
July 3, 1978–September 1, 1978
September 18, 1978–May 23, 1986
September 10, 1990 – March 8, 1991
Tic-Tac-Dough is an American television game show based on the paper-and-pencil game of tic-tac-toe. Contestants answer questions in various categories to put up their respective symbol, X or O, on the board. Three versions were produced: the initial 1956–59 run on NBC, a 1978–1986 run initially on CBS and then in syndication, and a syndicated run in 1990–1991. The show was produced by Barry & Enright Productions.
Jack Barry, the co-producer, was the original host of the 1950s version, followed by Gene Rayburn and then Bill Wendell, with Jay Jackson and Win Elliot hosting prime time adaptations as well. Wink Martindale hosted the network and syndicated version beginning in 1978, but left the program and was replaced by Jim Caldwell who hosted during the 1985–1986 season. Patrick Wayne hosted the 1990–1991 version.
The goal of the game was to complete a line of three X or O markers on a standard tic-tac-toe board (with the reigning champion always mounting X's). Each of the nine spaces on the gameboard featured a category. Contestants alternated choosing a category and answering a general interest or trivia question in that category. If they were correct, they would get an X or O in that square; otherwise, it would remain unoccupied. The center square, being of the most strategic importance, involved a two-part question, with the contestant given ten seconds to think of the two answers needed to win the square. After each question, the categories would shuffle into different positions (in the 1950s series and early in the 1978 revival, the categories would shuffle after both contestants had taken a turn). In the 1990 series, contestants hit their buzzers to stop the shuffling themselves. If at any point in a game it became impossible for either contestant to win with a line (a so-called "cat game"), the match was declared a draw and a new game would start. The process would continue until the deadlock was broken, however long it took to do so; the exception was the 1978 CBS version, where if each contestant had four of his mark on the board and could not complete tic-tac-toe, a jump-in type tie-breaking question was played with the contestant who answered correctly winning the game. This meant that a match could take multiple episodes to complete, which happened quite often. Tic-Tac-Dough used a rollover format to enable this to take place smoothly; this meant that a match could start at any point in an episode, continue until time was called, and then resume play on the next episode where the game left off with the same categories in play.
The gameboard on the original 1950s series used rolling drums (each containing the same nine categories) to display subject categories, with light displays beneath them to display the X's and O's. When Tic-Tac-Dough was revived in 1978 the game board was made up of nine monitors, which displayed the categories and X's and O's. The 1990 series used a completely computer generated setup.
On the original 1950s Tic-Tac-Dough, a winning player could play until either he/she was defeated or elected to stop on their own. The second option was a Barry & Enright staple that had been used on Twenty One, and it was important for a contestant to consider as if he/she chose to play another game and lost, the new champion's initial winnings would be deducted from the outgoing champion's final total. On the 1978 CBS daytime series, players played until either being defeated or reaching the network's $25,000 total winnings limit. There was no such restriction on the syndicated series that debuted in the fall of 1978 at any point during its run. The 1990 series did impose a win limit of fifteen but it was never reached, as the longest contestant winning streak stopped at twelve victories early in the show's run.
Adding money to the pot
As questions were answered correctly, money would be added to the pot which went to the winner:
|Version||Center Box||Outer Box|
|1956–1959, NBC Daytime||$200||$100|
|1957–1958, NBC Nighttime||$500||$300|
|1978, CBS Daytime||$200||$100|
On the 1950s version, the same nine categories were used for an entire episode regardless of the number of games played. On all other versions, nine new categories were used for each individual match and were replaced with new categories in the event of a tie game. In addition, for the NBC and first syndicated series, the pot would be carried over to any subsequent games. The 1990 series reset the pot after each tie, but increased the value of the outer boxes by $500 and the center box by $1000 for each new game until the tie was broken.
For each tie game before being defeated, losing challengers received $100 on the 1950s version, and $250 in all subsequent versions. Champions who eventually lost the match after a tie game did not receive any additional money.
1978 CBS differences
The CBS summer season had a few gameplay differences. Categories were shuffled at the beginning of the game and then only prior to the champion (playing as X) choosing a category. The challenger was required to select from the remaining categories after the champion's turn. After shuffling, some categories were featured with a black background rather than blue. If a category with a black background was selected, either contestant could ring-in and respond, regardless of who selected the category.
Unlike in the 1950s series and the following syndicated series, tie games did not result in the pot carrying over or a new set of categories being played. Instead, a final jump-in question was asked and whoever answered it correctly won the game and advanced to the bonus game. The jump-in format was later used during the syndicated versions as the "Jump-In Category" (see "Special Categories" below).
The use of special categories, which appeared in red boxes (red letters in the 1990 version), began on the syndicated version in 1980 with the Secret Category, a mystery category announced by the host after it was selected. A correct answer to that category doubled the value of the pot (and, on several occasions where a game went into multiple ties, sent the pot well over $10,000). Eventually the Secret Category was replaced by the Grand Question, which added $1,000 to the pot with a correct answer.
At first, just one special category (starting in the lower right box, later in the lower center box) was used per game. Eventually, two appeared each game (one in the upper center, the other in the lower center at the start), then three of these appeared per game (in the upper center, center right and lower center boxes to start the game). The categories then shuffled like normal categories, though special categories never shuffled into the center box.
Other special categories used included:
- Auction – Contestants were read a question with multiple answers. Contestants took turns bidding on how many correct answers they could name until either a contestant deferred to his opponent or opted to name all the answers on the list. If the winning bidder fulfilled the bid, that contestant won the box. If not, the other contestant only needed to give one additional correct answer to win the box.
- Bonus Category – A three-part question was asked, which, if answered correctly, gave the contestant another turn.
- Challenge Category – The contestant who selected this category could answer the question or challenge their opponent to answer. If the opponent challenged gives a wrong answer, the contestant who selected the category won the box, and vice-versa.
- Double or Nothing – If the contestant answered the question correctly, they could either keep the box or try to earn a second box. If unsuccessful, the contestant lost both boxes. Later, contestants were required to take the risk. When this category was selected, the board did not shuffle after the first question was answered correctly.
- It's A Dilemma – The contestant heard the question and could ask for up to five clues; however, the opponent decided who answered the question.
- Jump-In Category – Contestants used the buzzers in front of them to ring in and answer the question. A correct answer won the box, but an incorrect answer gave the other contestant a chance to win the box by hearing the entire question. In the 1990 version, the category name was accompanied by a general subject or "Who?", "What?", "Where?", etc.
- Number Please – The contestants were asked a question with a numerical answer. The contestant who picked the category guessed the answer and the opponent guessed if the correct answer was higher or lower. If the opponent was correct, they won the box, otherwise the first contestant won. An exact guess of the number won the box automatically for the first contestant.
- Opponent's Choice – The contestant answered a question from one of two categories which were selected for them by the opponent. When Jim Caldwell hosted, one category contained one question while the other category contained two.
- Play Or Pass – The contestant had the option to skip the first question and answer a second.
- Seesaw – A question with multiple answers was read to both contestants. Contestants alternated giving correct answers until one contestant gave a wrong answer, repeated an answer, or could not think of an answer and the opponent won the box, unless the opponent could not answer either, which would leave the box unclaimed. The box could also be won by giving the last correct answer.
- Showdown – Contestants were asked a two-part question, using the buzzers to ring in. The first contestant to ring in answered one part of the question. The other contestant answered second. If one contestant was right while the other was wrong, the contestant answering correctly won the box. Otherwise, additional questions were asked until the box was awarded in this manner.
- Take Two – The question had two clues. The contestant could answer after the first clue, but to receive the second clue he or she had to first give the opponent a chance to answer.
- Three to Win – A series of buzz-in questions was asked to both contestants, with the first to answer three correctly winning the box.
- Top Ten – A question with ranked answers was asked of both contestants. The contestant who chose the higher-ranked answer won the box; however, if the first contestant gave the top-ranked answer, he/she automatically won the box. Renamed Top This during the 1985–1986 season.
- Trivia Challenge – A question with three multiple-choice answers was asked. The contestant chose to answer first or defer to their opponent. Regardless of who started, if a contestant was incorrect, his/her opponent could choose from the remaining answers. If the opponent also guessed wrong, the box remained unclaimed. Renamed Trivia Dare during the 1984–1985 season.
The bonus round was introduced in the 1978 version, giving the winner of a match a chance to "Beat the Dragon".
CBS (Summer 1978)
On the CBS daytime summer run, the bonus round had four Xs, four Os and one dragon hidden inside the 9 monitors. The Xs and Os were shuffled around so that one of the symbols formed a "Tic-Tac-Dough". For each X and O a contestant revealed, $150 was added to the pot. The contestant always had the option to take the cash and end the game, as finding the dragon ended the round and lost all the money. Finding the "Tic-Tac-Dough" line won the game, and the contestant kept the accumulated money and won a prize package.
On the syndicated run, the squares contained the words "TIC" and "TAC", and six dollar amounts: $100, $150, $250, $300, $400, $500 (originally $50, $150, $250, $350, $400, and $500 for a brief period). The remaining box concealed the dragon. The object was for the contestant to accumulate $1,000 or more. If successful, the contestant won the cash and a prize package that usually consisted of furniture, trips, jewelry, and/or appliances, totaling anywhere between $2,000 and $4,000. During the early years, the same prize package was at stake for the entire show until won, but this was changed to a different prize package for each bonus round in later seasons. The contestant automatically won by uncovering "TIC" and "TAC" (at which point the contestant also had his/her cash total amended to $1,000). However, if the contestant found the dragon, the game ended and the contestant forfeited the prize package and the accumulated money. The contestant could stop at any time, take the money and forgo the prize package. For a brief period in 1983, a contestant had to accumulate exactly $1,000 or find TIC and TAC, but this was quickly removed.
- Dragon Finder
For a time in 1983, two members of the studio audience were invited onstage to play a special "Dragon Finder" game whenever the bonus round was won or a contestant stopped early.
Instead of uncovering the board immediately to find the dragon, members of the audience were invited to expose where the dragon was hidden behind the remaining numbers. The contestants took turns choosing the remaining numbers on the board to uncover the dragon. Originally, finding the dragon was worth a flat $250. Later in the game's run, $50 was added for each unsuccessful pick. At that time, each audience member who played received a Dragon Finder cap, and the losing contestant received $50.
The short-lived 1990–91 syndicated series used a bonus round that was similar to the 1978 CBS bonus round, but with several notable differences. One was that the contestant chose between X and O as their symbol for the round and hoped to complete a "Tic-Tac-Dough" line with that symbol. In addition, an armored knight dubbed the "dragon slayer" was added to the board. While, other than those changes, the primary objective was the same, it was not always possible to complete a Tic-Tac-Dough with a contestant's chosen symbol due to both the shuffling and distribution of the symbols (4 of one, 3 of the other in some cases, 5 of one and 2 of the other at others).
For the first of their symbols a contestant found, they received $500. Each one found after that doubled the pot. If the contestant completed the Tic-Tac-Dough, they won the value of the pot and a prize. Finding the dragon slayer resulted in an automatic win, with the contestant receiving double the pot (or $1,000 if the dragon slayer was found on the first pick) and the prize. As before, finding the dragon at any point ended the round and cost the contestant everything.
Beginning about seven weeks into the run, the dragon and knight described their purpose in a short rap song as they were introduced by host Wayne.
Winning a car (1978–1986)
Each time a contestant won five Tic-Tac-Dough matches in a row, he or she also won a new car:
- 1978 — Chevrolet Chevette ($3,800)
- 1978–1979 — Buick Skylark ($5,200)
- 1979–1980 — Buick Century ($5,300)
- 1980 — Buick Skyhawk ($5,400)
- 1980–1981 — Buick Century ($6,500)
- 1981–1984 — Chevrolet Chevette ($5,600, $5,800, $6,100)
- 1984–1985 — AMC Eagle ($12,500)
- 1985–1986 — Mazda GLC ($5,700)
With contestants being able to play until defeated, some Tic-Tac-Dough contestants were able to win over $100,000, setting game show records at the time. Over the course of nine weeks on the show in 1980, Thom McKee defeated 43 opponents to win eight cars and take home $312,700, including over $200,000 in cash, a record at the time. In one game, he broke the record for winning the biggest pot in a match, which reached $36,800 after four tie games against challenger Pete Cooper.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (December 2011)|
The first home editions were produced in 1956 by the Transogram Company. These versions, based on the Jack Barry-hosted version of the show, featured a gameboard with rotating categories that operated similarly to the board on TV. Four editions were released altogether: two regular editions and two "Junior Editions" with questions geared for younger contestants. The game proved popular even after the quiz show scandals and the cancellation of the show. By 1960, the games were re-released without any references to Barry or the show as 3-In-A-Row Home Quiz.
The Ideal Toy Company released a promotional Tic-Tac-Dough board game in 1978 which had its main game play format faithful to the CBS daytime run, but used the "Beat the Dragon" bonus game from the syndicated version, with $200 and $350 cards in place of the TIC and TAC cards the show used. During the first two syndicated seasons, the game was awarded to all contestants on the show, win or lose.
In 1983, GameTek, then known as the Great Game Company, planned a home video game version of Tic-Tac-Dough for the Atari 2600, along with several other well-known game shows, but that year's Video Game Crash brought the project to a halt.
In 2009, SkyZone Mobile has released a mobile game version of Tic-Tac-Dough for Brew, Java, Blackberry, and the iPhone.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (December 2009)|
Tic-Tac-Dough premiered on NBC daytime television on July 30, 1956, hosted by co-creator and co-executive producer Jack Barry.
Beginning on September 12, 1956, Barry began hosting Twenty-One in Primetime. The show was initially on Wednesday nights but quickly moved to Thursday nights. At this point, Gene Rayburn began hosting Tic-Tac-Dough on Fridays. Twenty One later moved to Monday nights in February, 1957, and Barry once again hosted the show all five days of the week.  Barry left the show and was replaced by announcer Bill Wendell on October 6, 1958. Wendell hosted the show, with the announcing taken over by Bill McCord, until its demise on October 23, 1959.
A nighttime version, produced in color,  played for bigger stakes aired from September 12, 1957 to December 29, 1958. First hosted by former Twenty Questions emcee Jay Jackson, he was replaced by Win Elliot on October 2, 1958 for the duration of the show's nighttime run.
Quiz show scandal
In August 1958, the cross-network hit game show Dotto was canceled after network and sponsor executives discovered the game had been rigged, and when newspaper headlines exploded with confirmation that deposed Twenty One champion Herb Stempel's allegations of rigging on that show were true, the big money quiz shows began to sink in the ratings and disappear from the air as the scandal widened.
Tic-Tac-Dough did not go unscathed before its cancellation. The April 3, 1958 episode featuring U.S. military serviceman Michael O'Rourke winning over $140,000 during his run on the show, became one key subject of the federal grand jury investigating the quiz fixing. That run occurred during Jay Jackson's tenure as host. Jackson was never implicated in any wrongdoing himself, and he had left the show well before the quiz investigations began, but he never again hosted a television game show. The same could not be said for Tic-Tac-Dough producer Howard Felsher. Felsher was in charge of all facets of the show's production, including picking the contestants. One of them, sixteen year old Kirsten Falke, auditioned as a folk singer. This led her to the offices of Tic-Tac-Dough producer Felsher, who would provide Kirsten with the answers and hints to win on the show and a promise to showcase her talent and sing. "I botched it up", said Kirsten. She requested her categories in the wrong order and, as a result, walked away with a paltry $800. A grand jury subpoenaed Kirsten to testify, and Felsher implored her to lie. Felsher admitted to congressmen that he urged roughly 30 former show contestants and all of his production staff to lie to the grand jury, and that he had himself lied under oath. Felsher also estimated that about 75% of the nighttime Tic-Tac-Dough run had been rigged. Felsher was fired in the fallout of the quiz show scandals by NBC,  but would later resurface as a producer for Goodson-Todman Productions in the 1970s and 1980s, where his son Andrew is now an executive at successor company RTL Group after having worked together.
The daytime show was unaffected, and host Gene Rayburn's career was completely unscathed. After Tic-Tac-Dough, Rayburn went to Goodson-Todman, where on December 31, 1962, he began his most famous hosting assignment on The Match Game.
Almost two decades after its original cancellation, the game was reborn as The New Tic-Tac-Dough when CBS gave it a summer daytime run. The series ran from July 3 to September 1, 1978 and made way for daytime repeats of All in the Family. On September 18, a previously-planned nighttime version premiered in first-run syndication, where it aired in some markets as a companion series to fellow Barry-Enright game The Joker's Wild.
Wink Martindale hosted Tic-Tac-Dough for its first seven seasons, then left on May 24, 1985 to host his new creation Headline Chasers. Jim Caldwell took over as host on September 23, 1985 and hosted until the series finale on May 23, 1986. Jay Stewart served as announcer for the first three years. Charlie O'Donnell replaced Stewart in 1981. Occasional substitutes for those announcers included Johnny Gilbert (including the syndicated premiere), Bob Hilton, Mike Darrow, John Harlan, and Art James.
In an interview, Martindale stated that while the CBS version began airing Barry & Enright Productions secured a spot to air a syndicated version that began in the fall. The CBS version ended due to poor ratings, but the syndicated version drew high numbers and as a result had an eight-year run.
Throughout its eight year run, the show used its theme song entitled "Crazy Fun", which was composed by Hal Hidey. From 1978 to the end of 1980, the show was recorded at CBS Television City in Hollywood in studio 31 and studio 43 at different times. From 1981 to 1984 and again for the final season from 1985 to 1986, the show was taped at KCOP (Chris Craft Studios). The 1984–1985 season was taped at The Production Group Studios, while Chris Craft Studios was getting an overhaul.
Beginning around early 1979, every Friday was "Hat Day", where Martindale would receive hats from viewers to show off at the end of the show. Some were winter hats, and some even dealt with the show (such as having a picture of a dragon on them). He also wore hats on the Friday shows of Las Vegas Gambit, which he was also hosting on NBC at the time, requiring Martindale to commute between Los Angeles and Las Vegas for over a year.
The gameboard, designed by Bob Bishop of Apple Computer, Inc.,  was driven by nine Apple II computers, each one responsible for displaying a single box of the gameboard, and in turn controlled by an Altair 8800 system. It was one of the very first uses of computer graphics on a television game show.
Another syndicated version premiered on September 10, 1990 with Patrick Wayne hosting and Larry Van Nuys was announcer (Art James filled in for two weeks). The theme music for this version was composed by Henry Mancini, his final television theme song. This version was not a success and only ran until March 8, 1991. This version was recorded at Hollywood Center Studios.
This version was the last television series produced by Barry & Enright Productions, as the company folded following Dan Enright's death less than two years later.
|Australia||Tic Tac Dough||Chuck Faulkner||Nine Network||1960–1964|
|Tic-Tac-Toe||Michael Goofy Forster||RTL plus||1992|
|Charles Bonar Sirait||July 12-August 4, 2010|
|Aire Untung||October 25-December 21, 2010|
|Spain||XO da dinero||Juan Vinas||TVE||1959–1960|
|United Kingdom||Criss Cross Quiz||Jeremy Hawk
|Junior Criss Cross Quiz||Jeremy Hawk
|United States||Tic Tac Dough||Jack Barry (1956–1958)
Gene Rayburn (1956–1957, Fridays only)
Jay Jackson (1957–1958, Primetime)
Win Elliott (1958, primetime)
Bill Wendell (1958–1959)
|(The New) Tic Tac Dough||Wink Martindale||CBS||Summer 1978|
|Tic Tac Dough||Wink Martindale
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (December 2011)|
Some NBC episodes hosted by Jack Barry are located at the Museum of Television and Radio in New York City. The April 3, 1958 show mentioned above is available in various public domain compilations on home video, although the Mill Creek "Classic Game Shows & More" DVD set mistakenly claims it is the December 22, 1958 show hosted by Win Elliot.
- Barry-Enright Productions. Tic-Tac-Dough. Featuring Thom McKee and Pete Cooper. Original Airdate 1980. After McKee wins the game, a chyron display indicates that the final pot total, $36,800, is the "Largest Single Pot." Martindale later notes that "for those four ties, [Pete Cooper] will not leave empty-handed."
- Fred Wostbrock (1999). The Encyclopedia of TV Game Shows, Third Edition. p. 226.
- "Colorcasting". Broadcasting-Telecasting: p. 35. 1957-09-23.
- As reported in the May 19, 1959 Time article
- "Shows–CBS Television City". Retrieved 25 July 2011.
- Information on the "Tic-Tac-Dough" gameboard
- Tic-Tac-Dough (1956 Version) at the Internet Movie Database
- Tic-Tac-Dough (1978 Version) at the Internet Movie Database
- Tic-Tac-Dough (1990 Version) at the Internet Movie Database
- XO da dinero (1959–1960 Spanish Version of Tic Tac Dough) at the Internet Movie Database
- The American Experience: Quiz Show Scandal
- Joseph Stone, Prime Time and Misdemeanors
- "The Big Fix", Time, 19 October 1959