Musician Dave Matthews and luthier Brian Calhoun have teamed up to promote Calhoun's board game Chickapig

By Char Adams
March 14, 2019 08:05 PM

Know what your board game is missing? Poop. Lots of poop. But don’t worry, Dave Matthews and famed guitar maker Brian Calhoun have you covered!

The Grammy award-winning musician and Rockbridge Guitars co-founder teamed up on a farm-to-table board game for various ages that features chicken-pig hybrids, appropriately called “Chickapig.” The unique, “chess-like” strategy game has gained grassroots popularity, snagging the No. 1 spot on Amazon in its debut.

“One Thanksgiving I was playing a game with some family and friends years ago and I was just a little grumpy because a lot of the games were really boring,” Calhoun, the creator, tells PEOPLE. “But one particular game was just unbearable to play. And I was complaining about it … I started going wild about how I was gonna make a board game. None of my friends believed me.”

So, Calhoun went home, cut out pieces of cardboard and arranged them on a chess board, he says. Thus, Chickapig was born. Excited, he began showing the game to all his family and friends, including his long-time pal Matthews.

“The word Chickapig is not hard to remember. It made me laugh the first time he said it. I was like, ‘What?’ It immediately made me smile. Within a week of you making a game, you showed it to me? That’s insane,” Matthews, 52, jokes to Calhoun. He recalls to PEOPLE: “We would talk about the game and I thought the game was good. At some point I became one of the voices that was saying, ‘Brian, you need to get the money to make a lot of these things!’ ”

Despite its cute creatures and manure-filled makeup, the game is one of strategy, and takes wit to get your creatures to their destination safely — dodging hay bales, your opponent and a pooping cow. Initially, the custom-made game was available mostly by mail but was recently made available at Target.

“We’ve been very pleasantly surprised on how things have unfolded,” Matthews says.

Ronnie Dennis

The game was quickly a hit among kids, prompting Calhoun to take it into classrooms, according to NPR. He partnered with Charlottesville Area Independent Schools, in which students formed Chickapig leagues to connect children from the various schools. The Virginia Institute of Autism has even picked up the game as a learning tool, according to WVIR.

So, last year, Calhoun wrote a children’s book based on the game titled Little Joe Chickapig, a story encouraging children to follow their dreams.

“We started introducing Chickapig to more children and we got schools to adapt Chickapig into their school programs, so children and families became our overall market,” Calhoun says. Matthews chimes in: “Kids pick up Chickapig way faster than grown-ups do!”

Matthews says he enjoys playing Chickapig with his family, who often join him on tour. He even had Calhoun make a magnetic Chickapig board for his tour bus. Matthews adds that he and Calhoun play together quite a bit, but the jury’s still out on who’s the better player.

“I see the look on his face every time I throw my last Chickapig through the goal, there’s a stunned expression on his face,” Matthews jokes. “I beat Brian almost every time we play, even though he invented the game.”

Calhoun chimes in: “I had to let all my friends beat me!”