Tic Tac Dough 1978
Tic Tac Dough alt
Tic Tac Dough 1985
CBS Daytime, July 3, 1978 - September 1, 1978; Syndicated, September 18, 1978 - May 23, 1986
Run time
30 Minutes
Wink Martindale (CBS 1978 & Syndicated 1978-1985), Jim Caldwell (Syndicated 1985-1986)
Jay Stewart (1978-1981), Charlie O'Donnell (1981-1986), Art James (1980), Mike Darrow
Studio 31, CBS Television City; KCOP TV Studios, Los Angeles, California; The Production Group, Hollywood,California

This is chronicling the CBS daytime and syndicated 1978 revival of Tic Tac Dough.

Game FormatEdit

Two contestants, one a returning champion playing "X", the other the challenger playing "O", faced a tic-tac-toe style game board. On the board are nine categories in nine boxes. The contestants in turn picked a category, then the host asked a question under that category. A correct answer won the box by placing his/her symbol in it, an incorrect answer meant the box remained unclaimed. After each turn (originally after each round), categories shuffled to different positions. The object of the game was to place three Xs or Os in a row, either across (horizontally), up and down (vertically), or diagonally. Along the way, correct answers also added money the pot. In the short-lived daytime run, the outside boxes were worth $100, while the center box was worth $200. In the nighttime run, the outside boxes were worth $200, while the center box was worth $300. The questions there were tougher; in fact they were all two-parters, and the player in control was given extra time to think it over. The first player to get tic-tac-dough won the game, became Tic Tac Dough champion, took all the money in the pot, and went on to play the Tic-Tac-Dough bonus game. If the game ended in a tie (eight boxes for both players with no chance for a win, or the board was completely filled-up), a brand-new game was played with new categories starting in the 70s, and the pot continued growing from the last total amount from the previous game. Challengers ("O" players) won money for each tie should he/she lose.

Champions in the CBS run stayed on the show till they were either defeated or exceeded the then CBS winnings limit of $25,000 or more. There was no limit whatsoever in the syndicated run; they just play till they lose.

Champions who won every five matches won a new car:

  1. Chevrolet Chevette ($3,800 in 1978, $5,600 from 1981-1982, $5,800 from 1982-1983, and $6,100 from 1983-1984)
  2. Buick Skylark ($5,200 in the first season and $5,400 in 1980)
  3. Buick Century ($5,300 from 1979-1980 and $6,500 from 1980-1981)
  4. AMC Eagle wagon ($12,500 during Martindale's final season)
  5. Mazda GLC ($10,500 during the final Jim Caldwell season).

Beat the Dragon (Bonus Game)Edit

In the bonus game, winning contestants faced the board to which its nine boxes were numbered 1-9. Behind all but one of the numbers were either money amounts or various X's & O's, and some "WIN" symbols. Behind that one remaining number was a "dragon" icon. The winning contestant's job was to meet a certain goal before running into the mean green dragon. Every safe square usually earned money, which the player could stop and keep if he/she desired, or risk it to keep playing. Winning the bonus round earned a cash prize of at least $1,000 and a prize package worth between $2,000-$5,000. Finding the dragon ended the game and "burned" the money.

The CBS BonusEdit

In this bonus game, the board now consisted of eight tic-tac-toe symbols (four Xs & four Os) and only one dragon. The Xs & Os were jumbled up making sure that there was only one way to win. The winning contestant started calling off numbers, and for each symbol found (either X or O), $150 was added to the pot. Finding the dragon at any point caused the player to lose the money; that's why he/she always got the option to stop and take the money or continue playing. If the one Tic-Tac-Dough with either symbol was found, the winning contestant not only kept the cash (for a maximum of $1,200), but also won a prize package. Later in the run, if the player found that one Tic-Tac-Dough, the winning contestant's cash total was upped to $1,000 if he/she had less than that, unless of course the player uncovered a total of seven boxes (for $1,050) or all eight (for $1,200).

The Syndication BonusEdit

The board now had six money amounts ranging from $100-$500 (originally $50-$500), squares marked TIC & TAC, and of course, the dragon. The object of this game was to uncover money amounts and try to reach $1,000 or more (exactly $1,000 without going over for a brief time in 1983), or find the TIC & the TAC (which bumped the total to $1,000). Doing either one of those things won not only the cash, but also a special prize package. Finding the dragon (of course) lost all the money, but the championship player always had the option to stop and take the money or continue.

"Dragon Finder" Audience GameEdit

For a time in 1983, an audience game called "The Dragon Finder" was instituted; it was played whenever the bonus round was won or a contestant stopped early. Instead of uncovering the board immediately to find the dragon, a randomly selected member of the studio audience was called upon to expose where the dragon was hidden behind the remaining numbers. The contestant in control chose a number from one of the remaining ones on the board to uncover the dragon. If that player failed, another audience member was chosen to do the same. Originally, finding the dragon was worth a flat $250. Later in the game's run, $50 was added for each unsuccessful pick. Also later on, each audience member who played received a Dragon Finder cap, which was introduced on a Friday "Hat Day" the week before that began (see "Hat Day" below).

For a brief period, two members of the studio audience played the "Dragon Finder" game. They were invited to expose where the dragon was hidden behind the remaining numbers. The contestants took turns choosing the remaining numbers on the board to uncover the dragon.

1983 Tournament of ChampionsEdit

In 1983, the show invited eight of its (at the time) all-time highest winners, all of whom earned a collective total of $1,248,500, back to play for their favorite charities. In each game, there is no pot, no red categories, and the loser plays the bonus for $5,000; hitting the dragon earned $1,000. The final match was best of three; the winner earns $50,000. In case of a tie during the main game a multiple answer question was posed, as identical to Seesaw, the first person who did not come up with another correct answer, repeats an answer or runs out of time loses.


The show was distributed by Colbert Television Sales.

Wink Martindale was originally tapped to host its sister show, The Joker’s Wild, but he wound up hosting Gambit instead. He did, however, host The Joker's Wild when it was a CD-i game for Philips Interactive.

Thom McKee, a lieutenant pilot in the United States Navy, was the biggest winner in the history of Tic Tac Dough, having won $312,700. His wife Jenny, whom he just married by the time he came to the show, assisted him mostly in playing the Beat the Dragon bonus game.

On Friday shows, Wink would always wear a viewer submitted hat. This day would be referred to as "Hat Day".

GSN ranked Tic Tac Dough #32 as one of The 50 Greatest Game Shows of All-Time in 2006. The special was hosted by Bil Dwyer.

International VersionsEdit

Main Article: Tic Tac Dough/International


Main Article: Tic Tac Dough/Merchandise




Episode StatusEdit


KRON Tic Tac Dough promo, 1979

KRON Tic Tac Dough promo, 1979

Tic Tac Dough close, 1986

Tic Tac Dough close, 1986

See AlsoEdit

Tic Tac Dough
Tic Tac Dough (1990)
Tic Tac Dough (2000 proposed pilot)


The Unofficial Tic Tac Dough Supersite
Rules for Tic Tac Dough at the Game Show Temple
Josh Rebich's Tic Tac Dough Rules Page
Flash game for CBS version of Beat the Dragon
Flash game for Syndicated version of Beat the Dragon
Older Flash game for Syndicated version of Beat the Dragon