In Trivial Pursuit of Pub Trivia
By Greg Holman
A Nebuchadnezzar of wine holds the equivalent of how many bottles? From what fruit is the French cordial syrup of grenadine made? What is a crapulous person full of?
If you think that these seem like “trivial” questions, you’d be right. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines trivia as “unimportant matters: trivial facts or details”. It also offers “a quizzing game involving obscure facts” as an alternate definition, and this is the one that we’re looking for. America’s clubs and pubs have embraced trivia with open arms and any respectable pub will at least have a book of sports facts or a copy of Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader lying around. I mean, after all, isn’t it better to think while you drink, rather than to just sit, staring and drooling?
Trivia’s popularity as a game began in the early 1960s, at Columbia University, when students Ed Goodgold and Dan Carlinsky staged inter-collegiate quiz bowls that tested culturally significant, yet relatively unimportant facts. They dubbed these matches "trivia contests" and a mental sport was born. Merv Griffin caught wind of the popularity of the Ivy League craze and in 1964 created the TV game show Jeopardy, furthering America’s appetite for trivia.
Britain soon embraced the trivia fervor as well, and during the early 1970s, the “Pub Quiz” swept the UK, and to date, there are more than 22,000 regular pub quizzes held every week in England!
In 1979 Scott Abbott, a sports editor for the Canadian Press, and Chris Haney, a photo editor for Montreal's The Gazette, created a board game called Trivial Pursuit and brought trivia into millions of homes worldwide. The game proved to be so popular that in 1984 alone, more than 20 million copies of the game were sold.
As the trivia boom swept the nation, a company named Alroy Industries began working on an interactive, broadcast trivia game, for use in bars and restaurants. Dubbed “NTN Buzztime” in 1983, this new game system allowed bars and chains such as Damon’s, TGIFriday’s, Applebee’s, and Buffalo Wild Wings the option of several different trivia and game platforms. Players compete against one another and other “NTN” clubs in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean, using wireless “game boxes” to answer random or topic-related questions. The winning clubs and player’s scores are then tabulated and compared against all other clubs and players across North America. The game is as popular as ever and is now available in more than 4,000 bars and restaurants. It gives patrons a chance to expand their minds while destroying them at the same time!
Another popular form of bar trivia is the Pub Quiz, also called “Live Trivia,” where teams of up to six to ten players challenge the other teams in the bar, to answer questions submitted by a “Quizmaster.” Answers are discussed among the group, written on paper, and submitted for tallying. The winning team typically receives a cash prize or bar credit.
Fortunately for trivial-minded Dallasites, there is an ample choice of both NTN and Live Trivia venues to vex and perplex in the Metroplex. Below I’ve listed a sampling of both.
Top Dallas-Area NTN Clubs:
Austin Avenue Grill - 935 W. Parker Suite #410, Plano, TX 75023 (972) 422-8003
Buffalo Joe's - 3636 Frankford Rd. Suite #390, Dallas, TX 75287 (214) 483-5225
Knox Street Pub - 4447 McKinney Ave., Dallas, TX 75205 (214) 528-5100
Lone Star Cafe - 11277 E. NW Highway Suite #124, Dallas, TX 75238 (214) 341-3538
Nick’s Sports Grill - 5110 Paige Rd. Suite #110, The Colony, TX 75056 (972) 625-0936
Parks Place Bar - 2121 NW Highway Suite #110, Garland, TX 75041 (214) 227-5552
Stadium Cafe - 4872 Belt Line Rd., Addison, TX 75254 (972) 701-0030
Vernon’s Grill - 5290 Beltline Rd. Suite #142, Dallas, TX 75240 (972) 661-3707
Wild Turkey - 2470 Walnut Hill Ln., Dallas, TX 75229 (214) 351-5383
Wizards Sports Café - 747 S. Central Expressway, Richardson, TX 75080 (972) 235-0371
Live Trivia Clubs:
Amsterdam Bar - 831 Exposition Ave., Dallas, TX 75226 (214) 827-3433
Dyre Street Bar - 5539 Dyer St., Dallas, TX 75206 (214) 987-4800
Flying Saucer - 14999 Montfort Dr., Addison, TX 75254 (972) 991-7093
Ginger Man - 2718 Boll St., Dallas, TX 75204 (214) 754-8771
Holy Grail Pub - 8240 Preston Rd. Suite #150, Plano, TX 75024 (972) 377-6633
Plucker’s Wings - 5500 Greenville Ave. Suite #406, Dallas, TX 75206 (214) 363-9464
Trinity Hall - 5321 E. Mockingbird Ln., Dallas, TX 75206 (214) 887-3600
Trinity Hall - 305 N. Central Expressway, Allen, TX 75013 (469) 854-6810
Uptown Bar and Grill - 2523 McKinney Ave. Suite A, Dallas, TX 75201 (214) 969-9433
NTN pretty much runs 24/7, but if you want to experience out some Live Trivia, be sure to call in advance to check days and times, as live games are typically hosted only one or two days a week. Let’s drink a toast to those Ivy Leaguers who brought trivia into the public eye, and give a nod to all who sail the seas of knowledge in search of insignificant tidbits of wisdom. Are there any questions? I’ll take Trivia for $1,000 Alex!
* Answers to the three questions at the top of the article: 1) 20 bottles, 2) Pomegranate, 3) Alcohol.