CHARLOTTE, NC: While most of the world returns to the first day of work of the New Year, trivia fans look forward to January 4th as “National Trivia Day.”
Though trivia has been around for quite a while, the origins of the popular phenomenon we know today only date to the 1960s. Ed Goodgold and Dan Carlinsky of Columbia University developed an inter-collegiate test of culturally significant, yet virtually meaningless facts that became known as “Quiz Bowls.”
Later they published a book simply titled Trivia which ultimately established a ranking on the New York Times bestseller list.
In ancient days, the word “trivia” was something very new, but with the passage of time the meaning evolved to refer to obscure bits of knowledge and recollections of nostalgic pop culture.
By 1984, the board game Trivial Pursuit made its way into the public conscience with over 20 million games sold.
At the University of Wisconsin-Steven’s Point, the campus radio station now holds the world’s largest current trivia contest which typically boasts of 400 teams ranging in number from 1 to 150. April 2019 marks the 50th annual competition which is open to anyone and spans 54 hours over a weekend that features eight questions each hour.
For obscure information buffs, here are four ways to observe National Trivia Day —
- Begin conversations with the question “Did you know…”
- Play some trivia board games. Trivial Pursuit sales have now topped 100 million!
- Watch Jeopardy
- Test your knowledge on Sporacle, a website that has literally thousands of quizzes and topics to keep you busy for years
If none of that whets your appetite, here is an eclectic list of oddball facts to share on National Trivia Day:
- A baby puffin is called a “puffling” while baby porcupines are called “porcupettes.”
- In Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries, it is tradition to eat 12 grapes during the countdown to midnight as a symbol of hope for the new year.
- Speaking of wine, about 700 grapes go into each bottle.
- Indiana state legislators attempted to pass a bill in 1897 to officially round off the value of “pi” to 3.2.
- In 1965 the word “mouse” was coined for the device used to control a computer, the speed of which is measured in “Mickeys.”
- During World War II, bacon was used for making explosives.
- The famous heads on Easter Island have bodies.
- Archaeologists have discovered bones on Seymour Island showing that 35 to 40 million years ago, penguins were six feet tall and weighed a whopping 250 pounds.
- Frank Lloyd Wright’s son created interlocking log beams for kids. The idea was inspired by the Imperial Hotel in Japan and, in doing so, he invented Lincoln Logs.
- Between the 5th and 16th centuries in England and Scotland, the exchange of witty, insulting verses was known as “flyting.” Today we call it “rap.”
- The Crown Jewels contain the two largest cut diamonds on the face of the earth. Both came from the Cullinan Diamond found in South Africa in 1905.
- The second largest is mounted in the Imperial State Crown while the biggest, the Great Star of Africa, is located in the Sovereign’s Sceptre. The original diamond was 3,106 carats.
- The Bloody Mary, invented by Andrew F. Smith, debuted at the Ritz Hotel in Paris in 1921.
- Bethlehem, Pennsylvania would never do anything as gauche as dropping a glittering ball to ring in the New Year. Instead, they drop a 200-pound Peeps Chick. It’s a marshmallow world after all.
- Before Play-Doh became a popular children’s toy, it was marketed as a wallpaper cleaner.
- Four years before the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote in the United States, Jeannette Rankin became the first female member of Congress in 1916.
- In 1913, at the Gettysburg Reunion for the Civil War, two soldiers purchased a hatchet, walked to the site where their regiments had fought and buried it.
- Talk about disturbing. Viking men wore make-up.
- Once upon a time, the word “jay” defined a foolish person. Therefore, pedestrians who disobeyed street signs became known as “jaywalkers.”
- Listen up you environmentalists — Sweden is so efficient they only send one percent of their garbage to a landfill.
- On another Scandinavian note, Finland was once regarded as the most technically connected country in the world. So, it only seems logical that they would host the annual Mobile Phone Throwing Championships. One winner recently said that he prepared by “Mainly drinking.”
- During the first few years of production, the Model T Ford was available in gray, green, blue and red as well as black. However, after 1914 customers were told they could order “any color so long as it was black” because the paint dried faster than the other colors.
- In 1997, a Charles Bronson fan left him $300,000 in her handwritten will. The woman, who never met Bronson, said she was just a “loyal fan.”
- Neils Bohr won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1922. As a reward, he was given a perpetual supply of beer that was piped into his house.
- There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar.
And finally, the only guaranteed cure for a hangover is time and plenty of fluids. Non-alcoholic, of course.
Lead Image: Opening Doors in Dubuque Iowa is sponsoring a Super Bowl Themed “Trivia Bowl” on February 1, 2019. This group supports women in need. Check out their event, and if you can’t go find out what the average yearly donation most American households make and add them to your list.
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
Editors Note: Support Bob’s GoFundMe to give him a hand up