It all began in 1935, when Donald Mazer, a sports enthusiast and game lover, and Charles Berlsheimer, a businessman and investor, teamed up to form their own game company. They called the company "CADACO," an acronym for "Charles and Don and Company." Their first office was modest: a rented garage in San Leandro, California.
FOTO WORLD was Cadaco's first game. Though it sold less than 2,000 pieces, the little company forged on with Elmer Layden's SCIENTIFIC FOOTBALL, released in 1936. Layden was the athletic director for Notre Dame at the time. After that came TOUCHDOWN (reflecting Mazer's fondness for football), followed up with later versions called VARSITY and ALL AMERICAN FOOTBALL.
In 1937, Mazer married Eleanor Ellis, bought out Berlsheimer, and the name of the company was changed to CADACO-ELLIS. That same year the company moved to Chicago, where offices were established in the spacious Merchandise Mart on the Chicago River.
Shortly after the move, Stanley Hopkins sold CADACO the rights to TRIPOLEY, then a fledgling game that had been distributed on a limited basis since 1932. In 1940, on the eve of World War II, YANKEE DOODLE became a popular CADACO game, and was copyrighted by Ellis and another CADACO employee, Crandall. Crandall was related to C. Leslie Crandall, a Bohemian artist who did much of the artwork for CADACO-ELLIS games and was a partner until the company was later sold. In 1941, the company introduced ETHAN ALLEN'S ALL-STAR BASEBALL, a classic which was in the line for over 40 years. (Ethan Allen was a Major League outfielder from 1926-1938).
In 1945, Mazer met Doug Bolton and hired him as an assistant. Mazer died in 1951, at which time Eleanor took control of the company and named Bolton general manager. In 1953, Bolton got the license for a cardboard version of SCRABBLE, and CADACO-ELLIS sold the game under the name SKIP-ACROSS. The popular game sold one million copies the first year it was introduced.
Six years later, Bolton accepted a job at Rapid Mounting and Finishing Company, one of CADACO-ELLIS's suppliers of game boards and cardboard materials. Jules Abramson, founder and premier president of Rapid, bought CADACO-ELLIS in 1964, and Bolton was again named general manager as the company name reverted back to CADACO.