No, Pick Up Sticks wasn't just some ploy devised by parents to get kids into a routine of clearing up after themselves! It was actually just another simple yet effective game that kids took to for some reason or other.
The idea was as simple as the name - it involved throwing the bundle of coloured wooden sticks on the floor, resulting in a jumbled heap. The idea was for players to take it in turns to try to remove a stick from the pile, but without touching or affecting any of the other sticks in the pile. If you did, it was onto the next player as you missed a go - always the ultimate shame when you're a competitive school kid. Some versions of the game also featured a black stick that whoever picked it up could later use to separate two sticks in one go.
Whereas Pick Up Sticks used to be made of more natural materials, the majority are now plastic. But if you don't have a set, why not try the game with cocktail sticks, straws or cotton buds. No one should have to miss out on the fun of Pick Up Sticks!