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Angry Birds is the next Super Mario Bros.

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Just last week, I interviewed a high-school girl in a small Wisconsin town for a newspaper story. She was wearing an Angry Birds winter hat. My brother sneaks off to the bathroom at work to play Angry Birds on his iPhone. Whitney Cummings pretended to play the game during an episode of her new TV show (Whitney).

Angry Birds hat

Angry Birds is a significant financial hit, but it's also a cultural milestone on the level of Super Mario Bros.

 

A year ago, the most prevalent video-game clothing either had a plumber, princess, or green dinosaur adorning it. Super Mario pens, plushies, wallets, and a myriad of accessories rounded out the merchandise onslaught for Nintendo's flagship property.

Angry Birds swag

Nowadays, I can spot a whole section of clothing and accessories dedicated to Angry Birds in JCPenney. At Hot Topic, Mario and Luigi vie for shelf space against furious birds and rotund pigs.

The homicidal birds and devious pigs are everywhere. They've become icons…particularly to non-gamers.

Casual video-game fans (from my brother, who buys one or two games a year, to my mother, who's only gaming comes from planting seeds on Facebook) seem to know and recognize the characters from Angry Birds.

This familiarity by casual and hardcore fans — coupled with the game's ubiquity in major retail establishments throughout the United States — means one thing: Angry Birds is as popular as Super Mario Bros. was in its prime.

I don't even like the game that much; I swear I do nothing but cuss at my bird's inability to kill those damn egg-snatching pigs. But I couldn't help but notice how everyone around me has heard of it.

Angry Birds has had the sort of pop cultural impact that most games can only dream of. The next step for the birds is to maintain their status and popularity for 25 years. But if a mustachioed plumber can do it….