(i never played this game, so all i can really remember of it is a big blue bucket shaped like a pair of pants, and cartman from south park yelling "and take your goddamn ants in the pants with you!" when he doesn't get the toys he wants at his birthday party. so i did a little research.)

ants in the pants is a (i hesitate to say "board") game for children three to six years, with two to four players. it's put out by an old favorite, milton bradley. this game has been around at least since i was a little kid, so i'll say it's origins were in the early-to-mid 80's, though i can't be sure.

there is indeed a pair-of-pants-shaped bucket; suspenders form the handle. but since i've grown up they've fleshed out the concept a bit and attached a black and white dog's head and upper torso and arms. i don't know whether this is to make the game easier or more difficult.

basically all the players do is "pop" these huge-ass plastic, multicolored bugs into the pair of pants. by pressing down on the back of the bug and then quickly releasing, a child can cause the bug to spring in a certain direction. in a way, it's a surreal version of basketball. the dog serves as the "backboard" off which the ants bounce into the pants "basket."

there are no "turns"; it's a free-for-all (just like real life!). whoever gets all of their bugs "into Fido's bloomers" wins. because of the simplicity and fast-paced nature of the game, it's billed as being a hit with toddlers, as well as an activity which helps them improve their motor skills and build "strategies" (what kind of strategy you need to flip ants in a bucket, i don't know). however, some parents have complained that the ants are nearly impossible to "pop," even for adults.

i personally have always thought the game was rather meanspirited. did fido ever ask to have ants in his pants? i doubt it.

http://www.sofitware.com/zehe/m/ust/?i=B00000IWDQ knows far too much about this scary game.
"What's the matter -- d'you have ants in your pants?"
To have "ants in one's pants" is a metaphor or idiom for a range of nervous or agitated emotions, leaving one unable to sit or stand still. It is especially applied to children, particularly those whose energy, once described as "fidgety", might now be termed "hyperactivity". The children so labeled might describe themselves as nervous, anxious, bored, or just eager to move on to a new activity.

It is quite possible, in certain outdoor settings, to actually get ants in one's pants. The sensation is not comfortable in the least, and indeed precipitates a certain degree of twitching. The vivid metaphor finds its way also into traditional children's rhyme, viz.:

You've got ants in the pants
And they make you do the boogie dance
All the way to France
In your underpants!

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