from the publisher
Jeff Ochs came up with the initial concept for SNAKE OIL in 2008 while on an airplane flight. He and some colleagues were reading a catalog to pass the time, “after joking about some of the products, I noticed a pattern developing. A lot of products were combinations of two random nouns, like camera goggles and pet stairs”, Ochs says. “My friend and I started playing with random noun combinations to create new products, and we entertained ourselves for the rest of the flight.”
In 2009, Ochs submitted the game to the Out of the Box Publishing’s product development team under the name Quick Pitch but it was initially rejected. Ochs put the game concept on hold while he and his wife travelled to China to teach English at Qinghua University. “In the fall of 2010, after teaching English for a year, I felt I needed a new challenge to keep me fresh,” he says. “So I decided I would actually try and manufacturer the game there.”
While in China, Ochs contacted Patricia Hayes Kaufman who was back in the U.S. and asked if she was interested in working on the game he was developing. Kaufman jumped at this fun and exciting new challenge. The “eureka” moment for both inventors came when Kaufman suggested ‘SNAKE OIL” as the product name! Kaufman also realized that the customer cards presented a perfect opportunity to further set the tone for the game and for each round of play. She gave the mascot snake multiple personalities while it posed as the wide variety of wacky customers. Kaufman says, “Each card is a labor of love and I enjoy the notion that the customer illustration might cause a chuckle or two before the round even starts.”
By 2011, Ochs had printed 1,000 copies of SNAKE OIL and was officially a travelling Snake Oil Salesman. The games flew off the shelves and Ochs ordered a second print run. Around this time, Ochs decided that being a travelling Snake Oil salesman was not the life for him, so he and Kaufman re-submitted the game to Out of the Box Publishing. This time it was a perfect fit! Out of the Box licensed the game in the summer of 2012 and released a newly redesigned package just in time for Christmas.