South American Card Game

canasta category originated south america

Canasta is a unique South American card game of melds and strategy, and a member of the Rummy card family.  It was introduced to the United States in 1949, having started in Uruguay.  Within a few months, Canasta became an overnight sensation.  For the next several years, it was the #1 card game in America. Bridge players, in particular, were enthralled with this new game.  The United States Playing Card Company (Bicycle) manufactured special edition decks.  All kinds of thematic souvenir products were distributed–including coffee mugs, ashtrays, place mats, keychains and other trinkets.  Variations on the rules and structure of the game then followed.  After a 10-year run, the interest gradually waned and traditional games such as Hearts, Spades, Bridge and Poker regained popularity.  Canasta (which means “basket”) still has a loyal following. A similar game called “Hand and Foot” (see separate article) has attracted attention.  Canasta is also played online at various sites.