What is Horsengoggle?

What is Horsengoggle?

Horsengoggle is a game that has been passed around communities by word of mouth for at least 50 years or more. I don't know where it started: I did hear that it's played in pubs in Germany so maybe it came over with German immigrants. My parents learned the game when they were involved with kid's clubs in Bismarck, ND, which has a large German population (and lots of good German food, too!)

My father played Horsengoggle with us when we were kids. If there was an extra dessert or cookie, or some other treat that could not be shared with all 5 children, then Dad would Horsengoggle it. We would laugh as soon as he said it, because the word horsengoggle seemed very silly to us!

The auction worked liked this: Dad would say, Ready... 1, 2, 3... HORSENGOGGLE!! And we would each hold up any number of fingers between 1 and 10. Dad counted all the little fingers, and then he would start counting heads around the circle. If the fingers added up to 28 (for example), then the person that Dad was pointing at when he counted out 28 was the winner of the Horsengoggle. The lucky winner got the prize!

The auctioneer must do the proper hand motions, too. Hold one hand perpendicular across your other palm (fingers straight) and bring your hand down every time you count: ONE! TWO! THREE! .... When you bring your hand down on the count of HORSENGOGGLE the auctioneer must change the finger position so only the first two fingers are pointing.

The hand maneuver is important! It's like the official gavel of the professional auctioneer, who slams in the bid with a bang. At that point, there is no going back and no one can change their mind about how many fingers to bid.

Of course, there are many ways to make this auction game even more silly and funny for little kids. It's very important to discuss how to do the countdown: whether it should be clockwise or counterclockwise and where the count will begin. Once you've determined how and where the count will start, then you do the Horsengoggle.

Dad knew how to ham it up so we were all laughing. We didn't really care if we won or lost, because it was so much fun to Horsengoggle!