Say When

Say When was a good but unmemorable game show that seems to have been invented because The Price is Right was doing well and someone said, “Hey, people like to guess what things cost.” On Say When, two contestants would compete. Host Art James would announce a Target Price for each game and then trot out different prizes for the players to “buy.” The object was to estimate the manufacturer’s suggested retail prices for each item and select as many as possible so that your total came closer to the target price that your opponent’s picks, without going over. Along the way, you might encounter a “blank check” for some simple supermarket item like Rice-a-Roni or Buitoni spaghetti. If you got one, you could fill it out for any amount of the product up to one hundred. If you knew how much the item cost, you could “buy” just enough to get very close to the Target Price.

Among collectors of old TV shows, Say When is best remembered for the time Art James was doing a live commercial for Peter Pan peanut butter. When he put the knife in the jar to scoop out some of the product, the bottom fell out of the jar and the knife plunged through it to the floor. The audience got quite hysterical and James, trying hard not to laugh, pressed ahead with the ad pitch, adding in the suggestion that someone had been digging so fervently for this great peanut butter that they’d weakened the jar.

Say When went on the air January 3, 1961. A little more than four years later, NBC decided to say “When” and it had its final broadcast on March 26, 1965. James went on to host many other game shows, including The Who, What or Where Game and The Magnificent Marble Machine.