How to Play the 'Separation Anxiety' Game

Sorting Candies

The Separation Anxiety game was once a staple of the popular TV game show 'Minute to Win It.' But that show, which aired on NBC in 2010 and 2011 and then on the Game Show Network in 2013 and 2014, has gone the way of all good canceled television programs: into distant memory.

The games played on that show, however, persist since they resemble classic games that go by other names. Separation Anxiety may look familiar because it's very similar to Matchmaker, tasking contestants to sort candies by color. There are a few differences, of course, and Separation Anxiety is just a little bit tougher to play. You can replicate Separation Anxiety at home with some candy and a few plastic containers.

The Goal

The goal of this game is to pile up 50 candy-coated chocolates and then sort them by color. The trick here is that you can only use one hand, and you must sort the candies one at a time according to a color pattern.

Equipment Needed

You don't need a lot of supplies to play this game. Essentially, you'll need a whole lot of candy-coated chocolates, many more than you think — especially if candy-loving children are playing. Here's your shopping list:

  • Candy-coated chocolates, such as M&M's. Alternatively, Smarties or candy-coated peanuts, pretzels or other snacks are fine, too, as long they're colored. There will be five colors, and you'll need at least 10 candies in each color. Get more than enough to ensure you'll end up with the right mix.
  • One large plastic drinking glass
  • Five containers, such as disposable drinking cups or small plastic containers (see following note)
  • A one-minute timer or stopwatch

The containers need to be color-coded to match the colors of the candies. You can do this in a few ways. If you have rubber bands in the same colors as the candies, you can wrap a few rubber bands of each color candy around each of the five containers. Alternatively, you can paint or draw thick stripes of color around the containers. You should end up with five different colors of candy-coated chocolates and five containers that are color-coded to match the colors of the candies.

Setting Up the Game

This is an easy game to set up once you've got your containers ready to go. First, count out 10 of each color of chocolate candy: Again, you want five different colors, 10 candies in each color. Place the candies in a pile and cover them with the large plastic drinking glass. Place the five color-coded containers, face up, in a semicircle around the covered pile of candy. 

How to Play

Before the game starts, stand facing the table with the covered pile of chocolates in front of you. Indicate which hand you'll be using to complete the game.

When the one-minute timer begins, pick up the drinking glass to reveal the pile of candies. Then, using only your chosen hand, sort them one by one into the available containers. You must follow the order of the containers' color pattern. For example, if the containers are set up in the order of green, orange, red, yellow and blue, you must place one green candy first, then one orange, one red, one yellow and one blue before starting the pattern over again.

To win the game, sort all 50 candies into their proper containers in one minute or less.

The Rules

  1. You may use only one hand throughout the course of the game.
  2. If candy is placed in the wrong container, you may take it out and put it back in the pile. But you must continue with the color pattern after correcting your mistake.
  3. A spotter/adjudicator must check all containers before declaring a win.