Well the more I said it; the more it bothered me as to where the idiom came from. Surprisingly, a Google search did not bring Wikipedia up as the first results. Instead, it was a site called Historically Speaking.
It was not the only site I used as my source, but it was the first, and it said what all others said.
The silly game is based on that old expression!
The expression showed up in print as far back as 1895. It was a Chicago Daily Tribune piece about the Republican convention in New York. I guess it proves media bias as far back as 1895…just saying.
The first use of the expression and the game prove one thing. A barrel of monkeys would ultimately be boring…and gross.